This is the second novel in Whittle's trilogy based on the life of Queen Victoria (The Young Victoria, p. 159) -- a gentle intimate portrait of the marriage of Victoria and Albert which closes with his death. Whittle follows the remarkably complementary pair -- Albert patient, paternal and steadfast; Victoria impulsive, given to anxieties, flashfire temper and repentances -- from public processions to bed talk, the latter one of Whittle's ""few small liberties"" which are never obtrusive. Whittle's Victoria, whom he considers in her early marriage years an ""ignoramus"" in affairs of state, is a ""wifely woman"" rather than a ""motherly woman."" In fact she did express in her letters some displeasure at the bearing and bother of her many children. Albert was everything to her, and in her obsessive love the royal households in England, Scotland rippled with tiffs, violent quarrels, weeping pleas for forgiveness and even -- whether you believe it or not or want to -- a resounding slap in the face. Throughout the years of reformers' revolts, the toppling of foreign thrones, unsettling changes of ministers, the deaths or illnesses of beloved advisers and friends and separation from her close companion Lehzen (at Albert's insistence), Victoria was often given to abrupt fears and periods of ""lowness,"" but the relationship with Albert deepened and grew and one of the last views of Albert in public (""That poor pitiable figure stumbling along in her wake"") is suffused with her love. A neatly tied love-knot with a few sentimental ribbons.