Tag Archives: Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life Book Review

Every genre has a standard narrative. When a reader opens up a biography, he or she expects the standard womb to tomb narrative. Lucy Worsley‘s new biography of Queen Victoria, Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life, both adheres to the standard narrative and steps out of the box.

Ms. Worsley tells the story of Queen Victoria via 24 days in her life that had a life altering effect. From a 2019 perspective, the Queen might have been viewed as an everyday woman: she was balancing a demanding career, raising children and maintaining her marriage.

What I liked about this book is that Ms. Worsley does not write the predictable womb to tomb biography. In choosing the specific moments in time, Ms. Worsley brings out her subject’s humanity and ordinary-ness, making her seem like just another woman instead of one of the greatest Queens in human history.

I recommend it.

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Victoria Review

In life, there is always something.

Season three of Victoria premiered last night on PBS.

It’s 1848 and monarchies all over Europe are being deposed and replaced by a republic at a ferocious rate. Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is on the throne for a decade. She and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) have been married for eight years. She is heavily pregnant with the seventh of their eventual nine children. Outside of the palace walls, the Chartists are protesting for their political rights. In France, the King has been deposed and finds safety within Victoria’s court.

Inside the court, there is even more drama. Victoria’s older half-sister, Princess Feodeora (Kate Fleetwood) has decided to pay her little sister a visit. She may or may not be all there. Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) is trying to do his job as Foreign Secretary, but comes off as a little impertinent. If nothing else, Victoria is a survivor, but will she survive this latest round of challenges?

When a returning series comes back, the premiere episode has to start with a bang. Victoria started with more than a bang last night. Between the political revolution outside and the personal drama inside, it looks like it will be a very interesting season.

I recommend it.

Victoria airs on PBS on Sunday night at 9pm. 

 

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Victoria Series 2 Episode 1 Review

Queen Victoria has the rare distinction of being one of the few female rulers in human history. Last year, the television series Victoria (based on the book of the same name by Daisy Goodwin, who is also the series’ show runner ) hit our small screens.

Last night, the second series of Victoria premiered on PBS. The second series starts a month after the first series ended. Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is a new mother and has been on resting since giving birth. Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) has stepped into his wife’s shoes while she recovers from bringing their daughter into the world. But Victoria is eager to get back to work and like many mothers, has to find the life/work balance that is sometimes akin to walking on a tightrope. While Victoria is trying to balance family life, her marriage and her job, Albert is trying to find his own identity outside of his marriage.

I really enjoyed last night’s episode. Not just because creator and writer Daisy Goodwin brings these real life people into our modern lives, but also because Victoria and Albert’s marriage seems so ordinary, despite their extraordinary status in society.  Like any married couple, they love each other, but they disagree quite fiercely. I also very much appreciated that Victoria’s dilemma is quite modern. She is working in a man’s world, but at the same time, she is a wife and a new mother. Any woman trying to maintain the same delicate balance will tell you that it is not easy.

I recommend it.

Victoria airs at 9PM on Sunday nights on PBS. 

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Victoria and Abdul Movie Review

We sometimes forget that legends are human too. We may not think of them that way, but sometimes we have to move past the legend to see the real human being underneath.

Queen Victoria is one of those legends.

The new movie, Victoria and Abdul, takes place at the end of her reign and life. She is celebrating her Golden Jubilee. Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) is a young man from India chosen to celebrate the Queen’s 50th year on the throne by presenting with a gift from her Indian subjects. It’s supposed to be a one shot trip.  But the Queen is taken by the intelligent and entertaining young man. Abdul not only teaches her about his world and his life, but he becomes a favorite. This, naturally does not go over well with Victoria’s son and heir, Bertie (Eddie Izzard) and her household. The question is, will this unusual friendship last and how far will those around Victoria go to remove Abdul from her life?

This movie is based on a book, entitled Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant, by Shrabani Basu. I have not read the book, my review is strictly based on the movie. The cast is nothing but stellar. My favorite performance came from Eddie Izzard. While he started his career as a performer in comedy, he clearly has the chops to play a serious or dramatic part. I would not be surprised if a few nominations came his way during award season. His Bertie is a man who has been chomping at the bit to sit on the throne and is not happy that this Indian man is placing one more obstacle in the way of getting to the throne.

That being said, the movie was disappointing. It was disappointing because there were moments in the narrative that felt like endings, but they weren’t. By the time the credits rolled, it was a relief that it was over.

Do I recommend it? I would love to say yes, but I have to say maybe.

Victoria and Abdul is presently in theaters. 

 

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Victoria Book Review

To be a King is extra-ordinary. To be a Queen is extra-extra-ordinary.

Queen Victoria ruled from 1837 until 1901. When we picture her, we see a stern, moral and regal monarch who knows who she is and her place in the world.

But before she was that Victoria, she was another Victoria. She was young, impressionable, a bit naive, a bit temperamental, but she also knew her destiny. Daisy Goodwin’s new novel, Victoria, takes the reader back to 1837. A short time after her 18th birthday, a messenger from Buckingham Palace has arrived. Her uncle, the King is dead and she is now Queen. The first thing she does is break the shackles that her widowed mother, The Duchess Of Kent and her mother’s adviser, Sir John Conroy have kept her in.

Victoria finds an ally in Lord Melbourne, but many fear that he has a Svengali like hold on the young Queen. Given her age, her previously sheltered life and her lack of experience, there are concerns that Victoria may be too blind with the first blush of infatuation to see Melbourne as others do. Enter her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Their relationship is destined to be one of the most romantic relationships of the ages. But before the happily ever after can commence, Victoria’s dislike of her cousin has to turn into love.

I have been eagerly waiting for this book for months. The wait was well worth it. Writing fiction is a difficult endeavor to begin with. But to write historical fiction about real people who are still in the public consciousness, whether living or dead is a herculean task. The thing that grounds the book and the characterization of Queen Victoria is that at that stage of her life, she was an 18 year girl. Yes, she was also a Queen, but she was also 18, growing up and unfortunately, as we all do at that age, making painful mistakes along the way.

I absolutely recommend it.

P.S. My review of the first episode of the television series Victoria is up. It will be airing on PBS early next year and it is good.

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Victoria Review

For many, when we think of Queen Victoria, we conjure up the image of Victoria in her later years. Still mourning the death of her husband, Victoria is wearing black and looking every inch like the regal Queen we imagine her to be.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of watching the first episode of the new series, Victoria.

Based on the book by Daisy Goodwin (which I am reading now, look for the review either tonight or tomorrow), Victoria wakes up in 1837, a short time after her 18th birthday. Her uncle, the king is dead and she is now Queen. Her first act as Queen is to step out of the tightly controlled life she has lived under her mother, the Duchess Of Kent (Catherine Fleming) and her mother’s adviser, Sir John Conroy (Paul Rhys). Leaning heavily on Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell) for advise and support, she develops what appears to be an infatuation.

I have been a fan of Daisy Goodwin’s books for a few years now. When I heard about not only the book, but the series, I became excited. Neither has let me down yet. What Daisy Goodwin has done both on-screen and on the page (she wrote the screenplay), is present an image of Victoria that few today would recognize. In the place of a morally strong older woman is a young girl who feels like any young girl, regardless of her station. She is young, impetuous, has a temper and likes to laugh. The thing that I liked the most that humanizes Victoria is that, to put it simply, she is human. She is young, she makes mistakes, but she also picks herself up and moves forward with her life.

I absolutely recommend it and I look forward to seeing the full series when it airs in the US in January.

Victoria premieres on January 15th, 2017, at 9pm on PBS.

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Jane Austen Is NOT A Victorian

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will be hitting theaters next weekend. A number of reviews, I predict will refer to Austen or Pride and Prejudice as Victorian.

I’d like to set the record straight.

Jane Austen lived in the Regency era, which took place from 1795 to 1837. Jane Austen died in 1817. The Victoria era lasted during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901.

Please, I beg of you. If you are writing a review, do your research. Do not refer to Jane Austen as a Victorian.

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Young Elizabeth Book Review

For those of us under a certain age, Queen Elizabeth II of England is simply the Queen Of England. She has ruled England since 1952. We don’t know her as anything else or anyone else.

Kate William’s new book, Young Elizabeth, The Making Of A Queen,  takes the reader back to Elizabeth’s childhood and tells the story of how she became Queen.

Born in 1926 to the Duke and Duchess of York, Elizabeth was not expected to become Queen. Her father (who would only ascend to the throne after his elder brother abdicated to marry his American mistress) would later become King George VI, was the second son. Having no brothers or close male relations who could step in front of her, Elizabeth, the first-born of two daughters, became heir to the throne when her father became King.  The book starts with an overview of Elizabeth’s family tree and includes her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.  It then takes the reader through Elizabeth’s life up to her 25th year, when she ascended to the throne.

As an Anglophile, a history nerd and a feminist, I found this book to be very interesting. History is full of Kings, but Queens, especially ones that have ruled for as long as Elizabeth has are far and few between. However, the writing tends to be dry in some areas. I get that this is a memoir and not a novel. However, that does not mean that the writing cannot have a life and a bounce to it. I enjoyed it, but someone who does not have the interests I have may not.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

 

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Throwback Thursday- Young Victoria (2009)

On the surface, the role of Queen seems easy. But the reality of being Queen is extremely complicated and not the fairy tale like fantasy that many think it is.

In Young Victoria (2009), Victoria (Emily Blunt) is the daughter of the Duke and Duchess Of Kent. Her late father was the youngest of four boys. Victoria is the only living legitimate child of any of the four brothers. This makes her next in line to be Queen Of England. Her mother, the Duchess Of Kent (Miranda Richardson) and her consort Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) try to use Victoria’s youth to their advantage. But they will be met with resistance.

At the same time, Victoria is being courted by her first cousin, Prince Albert (Rupert Friend).  In the beginning, Albert’s pursuit of Victoria is purely political, but then it turns into something more.  Victoria is young and intelligent, but can she be the Queen that the English people need?

I like this movie. What is shows is that youth is universal, regardless of whether one is the future monarch of England or she is the average Jane Doe. Victoria, as portrayed by Emily Blunt is young and eager, but also intelligent and aware of the extreme challenges that await her as Queen.

I recommend it.

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