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One can only admire the scholarship and research that the author must have undertaken to write this biography. The author is also to be praised for his distance from his subject which allows him to present her in a fair way - non-judgemental. The downside is the fact that Victoria reigned for so many years and during her reign England changed at a phenomenal pace from a relatively rural country with a few highly developed towns into a network of ever-expanding urban developments, such that it is hard to write her biography without making choices as to what to develop and what to gloss over so that inevitably some readers might feel there are gaps. At the same time England was involved in overseas expansion and becoming one of the most powerful imperialist nations and throughout her reign Britain was more or less involved in military action on various scales - skirmishes to wars. The Irish question was another burning topic in the later years of her reign and also the growth of a labour movement. Meanwhile Victoria was also a private person with a large family and her relations by ties of marriage to other crowned heads of Europe was very extensive. The author has such a wealth of material it is perhaps overambitious to write a chronological biography of such a figure. Considering how daunting the task is A.N. Wilson has done a masterly job. I felt rather frustrated at times because some subjects had to be glossed over to keep the book to a manageable length. I think I would prefer books that take a more single subject focus such as Victoria's private life or Victoria and her Prime Ministers.
On the whole I would reccommend this book to anyone with some prior knowledge of the socio-political background to the era but it might be rather arduous for someone who is ignorant of the period.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I have nothing but the highest praise for this biography. Victoria and her reign are interesting, of course, but Wilson's scholarship and writing are exemplary and bring the Queen and her family and household right into your life. Whether you know the story of Victoria or are new to her or to English history, this book is essential. Just read it!