Not only is this book superbly researched; it is fascinating reading. I have read a great deal about Queen Victoria, some of it impossibly heavy going, and some of it frankly salacious. Julia Baird brings this amazing woman to life, and allows us to see her with all her strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand she worked tirelessly for her country, showing great understanding of political issues, and frequently attempting to override long suffering prime ministers, and on the other hand she was a devoted (some would say 'over-devoted') mother, and of course, most famously, the adoring wife of Prince Albert. It is an enormous pity that Victoria's children so ruthlessly burnt or edited Victoria's voluminous diaries and correspondence, but sufficient material exists that enabled Julia Baird to portray a mighty personality who nevertheless had many personal weaknesses, not least of which was an overwhelming capacity for self pity, which pretty much crippled her personality in the decades after her beloved Albert's death. This work is illuminating, but objective. All praise to Julia Baird for adding a new perspective to our view of the great Victoria and her legacy for current times.
Found this fresh, new biography on Queen Victoria an absolutely riveting and absorbing read. Julia Baird does a great job of showing Victoria as a woman in relation to the social norms of the time she lived in and how she coped. Meticulously researched and beautifully written. Highly recommended.
Julia Baird displays the discipline of an academic with the creative flair of a true storyteller. My sole criticism goes to the placement of the Authors Note at the end of the book. This extra insight goes to the veracity and extraordinary research which the author employed and how easily it could all have been derailed. I think it should have been a foreword to inform readers right up front about the seriousness and gravity of this wonderful publication. Well done Julia, who is next I wonder ? The end. *****
As an insight into Queen Victoria it is wonderful and answers so many questions about the mother of nine children who gave her name to an era.
As a history record it describes without judgment the smells and the squalor that were consequences of growth of knowledge and technology unparalleled in history.
As an anthropological account of explaining history, it puts into perspective the gap between ambitions of people put in authority to govern and the structural elements that kept those ambitions in check and kept the rate of change sustainable, just.
It is a mirror to our own times and by implication contrasts our preciousness about miniscule pollution with the stoic way people tolerated and worked to combat the gross filth from which no person could escape in the nineteenth century.
This is a wonderful book that gives insight into systems and how individuals make systems work and how checks and balances work and how individuals solve the problems of systems.
A great read, thoroughly enjoyable. Julia has opened a window to view and understand Queen Victoria who was a 'working mother ' during a time of great technological change and expansion of the British Empire.