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The Private Life of Victoria: Queen, Empress, Mother of the Nation by Alexander Macdonald: A Book Review

The Private Life of Victoria: Queen, Empress, Mother of the Nation
Author: Alexander Macdonald
Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Arcturus 
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Pages: 194
Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Now the second-longest-reigning monarch after Elizabeth II, Queen Victoria ruled at the height of Britain's power on the world stage and was a symbol of stability at home and abroad. Against this background of pomp and power, she was a passionate woman who led an often turbulent private life. Victoria was just eight months old when her father died and his paternal role was taken by her uncle Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Sir John Conroy, an ally of her mother. The two of them sought to control Victoria and isolate her from others. This is the story of the Queen of England who had to fight to forge her own way in the world, and who found true romance with Prince Albert only to have happiness snatched from her when he died of typhoid at the age of 42.

      My Review: Queen Victoria is one of England’s most famous monarchs. She helped bring England into the modern age. While there has been much written about her, this biography sheds light into her private life. The Private Life of Victoria focuses on how the queen balances her role as a wife and a mother while struggling to rule an empire.

     This biography spends a part of the book discussing her childhood. While her mother and Sir John Conroy sought to control Victoria, Victoria found solace in her tutor whom she looked up to as a mother. The Private Life of Victoria also discusses her loving marriage to Albert and his role as Prince Consort. In many ways, Prince Albert acted as the true ruler of Britain. This was apparent when Queen Victoria was in childbirth, he would do the actual ruling. The author also discusses her friendships with John Brown and Abdul Karim. While Mr. Macdonald does not go into much detail about them, it is clear that John Brown had a place in the queen’s heart because she was buried with his ring. Mr. Macdonald explains that the reason he does not go into much detail into Victoria’s relationship with John Brown was that her daughter, Beatrice, edited her diaries. He also speculates that Beatrice may have deleted some of her mother’s passages about her intimacy with Mr. Brown.

   Overall, this was a short and comprehensive biography of Queen Victoria. The Private Life of Victoria does not discuss the politics of the Victorian era or her role as queen. Instead, it focuses solely on her private life. Therefore, as someone who has read many biographies on Queen Victoria, I found this to be a very pleasant and refreshing read. I was not bogged down with heavy details on politics that is often prevalent in biographies, and instead focused on the queen’s personal relationships, loves, and infatuations. While there is no new information on Victoria, The Private Life of Victoria is an excellent biography for those who want to read more about her personal life.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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