The fascination that still surrounds the life of Queen Victoria is one that never seems to end and with this straightforward biography, A.N. Wilson manages to get to the bottom as to why she is still an endless source of interest.
From her temper tantrums as a child, through her early years on the throne and marriage to Prince Albert – no stone is left unturned in this extremely detailed and focused book.
Occasionally, it can be difficult to keep up with the countless names of her children and more particularly her grandchildren but the book still manages to flow well that means the reader can keep up with ease. Some readers may find it difficult to keep up with the political situations at times and it can become a little bit weighed down with all the politics, but as this was an important time in British politics it is perhaps not surprising.
But we do get a better sense of Queen Victoria’s character through her personal feelings on a range of topics and through opinions of others about her behaviour. From reading this book, my own impressions of Queen Victoria are that she was quite a contradictory person one the one hand changing her mind consistently on matters on importance but she also had a will of iron particularly when it came to her close relationship with servants such as John Brown.
What is so extraordinary about Queen Victoria’s life is the amount of change that she lived through in terms of the way in which the role of the monarchy began to change, the political system and the way in which Great Britain was viewed in other countries.
Her fascination with what was happening abroad and the relationships between other countries seems to have been very forward thinking of her – and perhaps not surprising due to the fact that her children were married into many different Royal families.
But it is sad that many of her diaries and letters were burnt by her children after her death as it would have been fascinating to hear more of her thoughts come through in this book, which seems to keep a slight distance as to what her relationships were like with certain people in her life. However, again it is perhaps not so surprising as her children clearly felt that there was written evidence that would cause embarrassment to the Royal family if it ever got out.
It is a well written book that gets to the heart (as much as it is possible to do) of Queen Victoria’s life and what she represented to her subjects. Well worth a read.