VICTORIA: An Intimate Biography by Stanley Weintraub

VICTORIA: An Intimate Biography

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The first biography in over 20 years of England's longest reigning monarch, and the first by an American, with previously Unknown details. As the title suggests, Weintraub (Whistler, The London Yankees, A Stillness Heard Round the World) concentrates on a personal and psychological examination, rather than attempting to place Victoria in a historical perspective. He was aided in this by access to the Queen's album consolatium and newly discovered diaries and letters of friends, relatives and confidants. The result is an entertaining, gossipy look at an otherwise stuffy era. Victoria reigned for over 60 years, starting as an undereducated 18-year-old, used as a pawn in the intrigues of her enormous family, and ending as a mythic figure. In between, her life fell into definite eras: her ""sunshine"" reign with beloved husband Albert; her elaborate mourning after his death and subsequent withdrawal from political and public life; her gradual reemergence and attempt to regain power for the monarchy; and her dignified progression into old age and invalidism. Weintraub's portrayal of Victoria's immediate family is of considerable interest. Of her nine children, she could stand only two, and none of them could stand each other. In particular, she disliked the randy heir apparent, Bertie (King Edward VII). The other children all married European nobility, and their sheer numbers and fecundity at times reduced European history to a gigantic family squabble. Weintraub sprinkles his narrative with unimportant details, however--do we really care that Victoria's father once had an attack of gas after a journey?--and at the same rime, leaves out some key facts--he mentions at one point that Victoria had reigned longer by one day than any other English sovereign but doesn't say who her contender was. In sum, a unique psychological portrait of a monarch who had heretofore been seen as prudish and unapproachable.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1986
Publisher: Dutton