A distinctly surprising addition to the Victorian canon: an engrossing account of the personal and professional relationship that sprang up between the aging Queen Victoria and her physician, Sir James Reid, during the last 20 years of her life. Reid, the wife of Sir James' grandson, has mined the doctor's letters, diaries, and professional papers, as well as delved into the Royal Archives, to produce an intriguingly personal account of life at court during the last two decades of the 19th century. The insights into the monarch's character and her dealings with the members of her family and of her court are fascinating, and often moving. Mrs. Reid is particularly adept at incorporating small but highly evocative details into her narrative. She points out, for example, that--although he was her personal physician for 20 years--Reid never saw Victoria undressed until after her death: physical examinations were apparently lese majesty. The family squabbles--not only between Victoria and her high-flying eldest son, the rakish Prince of Wales, but also between the Queen and her other seemingly less flamboyant offspring--provide a highly personal picture of palace life. Meanwhile, the writing here is lucid, swift, and leavened with a refreshing sense of humor. The author individualizes her immense cast of characters with telling details, and her portrayal of her grandfather-in-law--something of a stiffly formal autocrat himself--is affectionately critical when need be. All in all, then, a delightful glimpse behind the facades of Buckingham, Windsor, and Balmoral.