Saturday, January 14, 2017
Just in time for PBS Masterpiece’s Victoria premiere, CNN Royal Historian Kate Williams brings us BECOMING QUEEN VICTORIA: The Unexpected Rise of Britain’s Greatest Monarch, a smart, gripping account of the rise to the throne and early life of Queen Victoria, and the little-known story of the princess who might have been Queen.
Much has been made of Queen Victoria’s epic reign – her vision, her autonomy, her marriage. Not much has been written, however, about her childhood before she actually ascended the throne – the legacies she overcame and the hurdles thrown in her path. In BECOMING QUEEN VICTORIA, Kate Williams tells the astonishing story of Queen Victoria’s passionate youth, her bitter struggle with her mother, and how her life was shaped by the life of her forgotten cousin, Princess Charlotte, the Queen who never was.
Writing with novelistic flair and historical precision, Kate Williams reveals a vibrant woman in the prime of her life, while chronicling the byzantine machinations that continued even after the crown was placed on her head. Upon hearing that she had inherited the throne, eighteen-year-old Victoria banished her overambitious mother from the room, a simple yet resolute move that would set the tone for her reign. The queen clashed constantly not only with her mother and her mother’s adviser, the Irish adventurer John Conroy, but with her ministers and even her beloved Prince Albert—all of whom attempted to seize control from her.
Williams lays bare the passions that swirled around the throne—the court secrets, the sexual repression, and the endless intrigue. The result is a grand tale of a woman whose destiny began long before she was born and whose legacy lives on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Williams studied for her B.A. at Oxford University and went on to earn an M.A. from the University of London and a D.Phil. in history from Oxford. A lecturer and TV consultant in addition to being CNN’s royal historian, she has hosted several documentaries on British television and appears regularly on both American and British networks. Williams is the New York Times bestselling author of three biographies—Ambition and Desire: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte, England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, and Becoming Queen Victoria: The Unexpected Rise of Britain’s Greatest Monarch—as well as a novel, The Pleasures of Men. She lives in London.
Becoming Queen Victoria is a book that takes you back to the 1800s and gives you a glimpse into the lives as several royal women. Though the book's title leads you believe it's only about Queen Victoria, the first section of the book is actually about Princess Charlotte. So you get an interesting view of more than one English ruler.
I did enjoy reading this book, but it wasn't exactly what I expected. It reads almost like the script of a documentary or a text book. This sometimes works for a biography, but in this case, it seemed rather dry. I have read other non-fiction books that were page turners. This one just wasn't. So while I learned a lot about about these figureheads, the book wasn't as engaging as I had hoped. I found myself getting bored at times,and put it down to read other books in between. The book is definitely full of great historical information, but not much excitement.
My Rating: 3 Stars