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Queen Victoria: A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert

>> Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 502
Non-Fiction Five #6, A-Z Reading #37 (Q Title)

This biography of Queen Victoria has been on my TBR list for a while now. I’m very glad I finally read it. The subtitle “A Personal History” is accurate. This book doesn’t dig deep into the political side of her lengthy reign and legacy. This is very much about the woman herself and her relationships with her family, staff and government officials.

A lot of what is covered in the book I already knew, such as her devotion to her husband and her heartbreak after his death. I also knew of her legacy of marrying her children into most of the reigning houses of Europe at the end of the 19th century. I didn’t know that she and Prince Albert had some pretty severe quarrels – often continued in letters to each other. One of his letters speaks of his wanting to just get away and be by himself, but she continues to follow him and pursue the argument. I was surprised that she didn’t particularly like being pregnant or young children. Her relationships with her children were difficult ones, particularly her eldest son and heir.

Her relationships with her Prime Ministers and government officials are interesting – she often disliked a new Prime Minister only to despair at his leaving office a few years later. She was a woman of contradictions – often selfish and difficult, she also loved and cared deeply about others. She loved to dance and laugh and there is one picture in the book of her smiling (which I had never seen before).

The first part of the book is, for the most part, a chronological telling of her life up to the death of Prince Albert. The second part is less chronological and the chapters are more topics considered in regard to the remainder of her reign (such as Sons, Daughters, Holidays Abroad, etc.) Hibbert touches on her relationship with John Brown, and concludes that it’s unlikely that it was a romantic one.

I enjoyed this biography, but would like to read more about her someday. There is so much to her life and reign that it’s difficult to cover in one book.


Bookfool 7/16/2008 6:53 PM  

I've already plunked this one onto my wish list. I'm glad to see you continued to enjoy the reading! And, I've got to see that photo of Victoria smiling!

SuziQoregon 7/16/2008 8:22 PM  

Bookfool: It has it's dry parts, but overall it was really interesting. I'd love to read more about her.

Tara 7/17/2008 6:06 AM  

This sounds interesting - Queen Victoria seems to have been a fascinating woman. I have read a book some time ago called Victoria's Daughters which I remember as being very good.

Nicola 7/17/2008 12:07 PM  

Sounds great suzi! I just love readinga about her and the era! I've got this on my wishlist.

SuziQoregon 7/18/2008 2:38 PM  

Tara: I've heard of that one. Might need to lood for it.

Nicola: I learned a lot about her and her family.

Carrie K 7/19/2008 7:37 PM  

I'll have to check this book out - I just finished Sovereign Ladies - the six reigning Queens of England and really, I had no idea about Victoria at all other than a questionable taste in decorations, prudishness and being unamused. None of which was at all accurate, of course.

Hibbert's book sounds like it covers her life much more thoroughly.

SuziQoregon 7/23/2008 8:32 AM  

Carrie: it would be tough to cover all of Victoria's life in one book - she lived and reigned such a long time and her family was large and intermarried with so much European royalty that it's a complex story. I thought Hibbert did a good job of focusing on her personal rather than her political story.

Barb 7/26/2008 7:59 AM  

OKay, totally not a book-thing...but I just finished watching the A & E version of this book, from 2001. Even though it didn't go into the politics of the time (wish intrigues me more than the personal life) I enjoyed the story, especially about Albert. So, now I should read the book!

SuziQoregon 7/26/2008 8:08 AM  

Just thinking: Was that A&E movie "Victoria and Albert"?? I watched that too and enjoyed it. This book doesn't go into the politics either, but is enjoyable for the personal side.

Framed 7/26/2008 8:17 PM  

Great review. I've always wanted to know more about her so I'm glad to have a glowing recommendation.

SuziQoregon 7/27/2008 5:28 PM  

Framed: for folks who have an interest in learning more about her, I think it's definitely worth a read.

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