Acclaimed historian A. N. Wilson gives a sweeping, definitive biography of one of the most recognizable, yet enigmatic monarchs of all time.
The longest reigning British monarch and female sovereign in history, Queen Victoria was a figure of profound paradox who has mystified historians for over a century. Now in this magisterial biography, A.N. Wilson rebukes the conventional wisdom about her life - that she was merely a "funny little woman in a bonnet" who did next to nothing - to show she was in fact intensely involved in state affairs despite a public façade of inaction. More than just the stock image of a stuffy, unsmiling widow in mourning, Wilson's complete immersion in Victoria's countless letters and journals reveals a carefully nuanced portrait of a monarch possessed by family immigrant insecurities, a reluctant public figure who learned to exploit public display, a mother who hated pregnancy, and above all, a political luminary who created and controlled the story of her life, true or otherwise.
Victoria brings to life its subject in all her many moods and phases: her so-called miserable childhood, her early years of political inexperience as a pawn to advisers and statesmen, her passionate marriage to Prince Albert and the incessant public criticism, her famed mourning period after Albert's early death, and finally, the captivating last decades of her rule as Empress of India. After nearly two decades as an eccentric, reclusive mourner, she emerged, self-confident and robust, as an out-and-out imperialist who harnessed royalty with British foreign policy and as the figurehead of military and economic world domination.
Wilson tells a story of victory against painful odds and gives the portrait of a woman battling with demons and overcoming them, largely alone. Despite everything, she came to embody the British people's experience of their own lives.
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This book has old and new info
First of all, I have to out myself as a real addict of English history, and I have read all previous books not only about Victoria and Albert, but pretty much everything about the era period. So having said that, I found this book had some really good additions to the genre, lots of personal info and references to actual writings by V etc. If you know nothing about Vic, but are curious, you might not go wrong by beginning with this book.
This narrator has a sonorous, ominous tone that is entirely repetitious, to the point where some of his intonations actually made me laugh. He sounds like he is announcing something, over and over again. Not much modulation of tone. He is also humorless and his cadence can really get to you, I tried my best to just ignore him and focus on the story, but there is no doubt his delivery can be distracting.