Monday, June 11, 2018
By Julia Baird
Random House, 2017, 752 pages, Biography
This biography of Queen Victoria is fresh, well researched, and mesmerizing. Though it is quite a brick of a book, it is a charmingly fast read. Using her background in history and journalism, author Julia Baird challenges many of the stereotypes of Queen Victoria and paints a picture of a complex and passionate woman.
For example, Baird challenges the idea that Victoria didn’t care for her children. Using personal diaries, letters, and recollections of those closest to Victoria, she shows that the Queen doted on her children, especially the pretty ones. Baird also shows the problematic and intense relationships Victoria had with John Brown and Abdul Kareem.
I loved this comprehensive look at Victoria’s life, not just her relationship with Prince Albert. In many ways her dependence upon Albert crippled her powerful spirit. It took her ten years to come back to herself after he died. What I learned most was that Queen Victoria flourished when she felt loved and safe. Whether it was the support of her Prime Ministers, her servants, or her children, she was a warm and vibrant person when she felt supported by those closest to her.