When Victoria was born, in 1819, the world was a very different place. Revolution would threaten many of Europe’s monarchies in the coming decades. In Britain, a generation of royals had indulged their whims at the public’s expense, and republican sentiment was growing. The Industrial Revolution was transforming the landscape, and the British Empire was commanding ever larger tracts of the globe. In a world where women were often powerless, during a century roiling with change, Victoria went on to rule the most powerful country on earth with a decisive hand. Fifth in line to the throne at the time of her birth, Victoria was an ordinary woman thrust into an extraordinary role. As a girl, she defied her mother’s meddling and an adviser’s bullying, forging an iron will of her own. As a teenage queen, she eagerly grasped the crown and relished the freedom it brought her. At twenty, she fell passionately in love with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, eventually giving birth to nine children. She loved sex and delighted in power. She was outspoken with her ministers, overstepping conventional boundaries and asserting her opinions. After the death of her adored Albert, she began a controversial, intimate relationship with her servant John Brown. She survived eight assassination attempts over the course of her lifetime. And as science, technology, and democracy were dramatically reshaping the world, Victoria was a symbol of steadfastness and security–queen of a quarter of the world’s population at the height of the British Empire’s reach. Drawing on sources that include fresh revelations about Victoria’s relationship with John Brown, Julia Baird brings vividly to life the fascinating story of a woman who struggled with so many of the things we do today: balancing work and family, raising children, navigating marital strife, losing parents, combating anxiety and self-doubt, finding an identity, searching for meaning.
Before this I had never read anything on Queen Victoria. All I knew about her was that, until recently, she had been the longest raining monarch. What a woman she was. This book was an amazing way to get to know the Queen.
I feel in love with Victoria from the start. She was young, witty and seemed very independent and adventurous. She became Queen at the young age of 18 after having been 5th in line to the throne. Thankfully she had she pretty irresponsible uncles who produced no heirs. Victoria stared out strong as a queen. It was only after she married Albert that I saw a dramatic change, and not in ways I liked.
I don’t want to dive in too much since I don’t want to spoil the book nor do I want this to become a history essay paper (maybe that will come at a later time) but I do want to point out a few things that bothered me. And not with the author. Julia Baird is absolutely amazing! She did a great job with this book.
So as I said before Victoria was very independent. Then she married Albert. At first she remained the independent queen she started as. Albert was not the king no the king consort. Then she became obsessed with Albert. And maybe in ways that were a bit unhealthy. But to be fair, Victoria grew up with no father and a very controlling mother, who at one one point was consipiring with a nasty man, John Conroy, to try and steal the throne from Victoria before she even had it. Ugh anyway when Victoria became pregnant with her first kid she started letting Albert take over her duties. It was like he became King. Which I was completely ok with! He was amazing and would have been an amazing King had he been allowed to be. He helped change a lot during that time period and help modernize the monarchy.
Fast forward and Albert dies and does so at way too young of an age. This is when I started to dislike Victoria. She became weird. It’s like she just didn’t know how to rule. She liked to manipulate everyone to get her way, even if it wasn’t the right way. She became whiney and just child like.
She did have some positive things about her. She did fight for the poor and better living conditions for them but man it seemed like she was she so against women’s rights and them gaining independence and freedom from the cluches of men. Those parts annoyed me.
Speaking go men. My gosh they were horrible little tyrants back then. I mean I knew they were but my gosh they were completely ignorant 🙄 Specially when it came to women. I love how it was the women’s fault that venereal disease was spreading through the military but they also said the men “needed” prostitutes cause it was normal for them to need relief 😒 Really? I could write a WHOLE novel on the stupidity of men through the ages. 🤔 Hmmm could be a fun series of blogs.
It does seem like as Victoria got in her golden years she finally snapped out of whatever she was in and started being the Queen she needed to be. But at that point I felt it was a bit too late. But whatever I guess. Just really irked me a little reading about all the nice and wonderful things people had to say about her after she died. I was like umm ok cause I didn’t come to that same conclusion about her. The women who were fighting for equal rights for women were seeming to even bow down to her. She was so against women’s right but these people were talking about her like she was there protesting with them when she clearly wasn’t
Ok well I’m going to stop there or else I could keep going. I do want to read more about her. Specially her relationship with John Brown and Karim Abdul. I also found a few other subjects and people I want to check out. Overall I found this a fantastic read and very well done.
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