A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert, and the Death that Changed the British Monarchy
The image of Queen Victoria as a dour, gloomy widow in black pervades popular culture, overshadowing the vivacious young queen recently brought back into the spotlight by the film The Young Victoria. The causes of Victoria’s transformation from sovereignty to solitude are explored in Helen Rappaport’s outstanding new book, which begins in the year prior to Prince Albert’s death and continues through the decades of Victoria’s self-imposed exile.
Writing in a narrative style rich with novel-like detail, Rappaport delves into the issues surrounding Victoria’s obsessions with grief and mourning (which did not begin with Albert’s death); also examined in detail are the changing political landscape in Britain, the codependent nature of the royal marriage, Albert’s crucial but under-appreciated role in the government, the effects of Victoria’s almost fanatical worship of her husband, and the reasons it took her so long to allow herself to move on. The result of all this is a fascinating and revealing look into a shift in British culture far more complex than a picture of a frowning queen in widow’s weeds. Definitely recommended.
272 (US), 352 (UK)