Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Comprehensive View of Queen Victoria's Life

Queen Victoria was a complex woman. One of the strengths of Wilson's biography is that through the use of her letters and journals he is able to show us the internal life of the Queen.

Victoria was married, presumably happily, to Prince Albert. They produced nine children, and his death left her prostrate. Albert was a strict Victorian husband treating Victoria often as a child and using severe methods to raise the children. Although Victoria loved Albert, her love for her children was less pronounced. Her relationship with her heir, Bertie, was particularly fraught with unpleasantness.

After Albert, she engaged in two relationships that could be described as scandalous. She spent many years with John Brown, Highland John, and may have been married to him, but if so the record or such an alliance has been destroyed. Her later relationship with Munshi, her Indian Secretary, paints the picture of a lonely old woman taken in by a successful conman. However, seeing Victoria in these three relationships makes her more of a real person.

The author is adept at bringing the political situation into the biography. He shows how Victoria both shaped events and was shaped by them. For me, this was the best part of the book.

I did learn some interesting things about Victoria's childhood. She believed that she had a lonely childhood, but using her journals, the author shows that she grew up with the stepbrother and stepsister, the children of her mother's first marriage.

This is a long book and the writing is often scholarly to the point of dryness. However, if you're interested in Queen Victoria or the Victorian Age, it's well worth reading.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.