Friday, January 27, 2012

Valentine's Day Book Rec

First post of the New Year. Sorry to have been so quiet.

I thought I'd share what I'm reading right now - an excellent choice for Valentine's Day, by the way: We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill.

A wonderful book that covers one of history's greatest love stories - that of Queen Victoria and her Prince, Albert. Anyone that likes history or romance will find this book rather interesting. It is one of the easiest to read - not dry at all, but more like a novel at times. The author gets you involved in the histories of the two and how they changed and grew through their relationship. I found myself swept away in reading it.

Victoria and Albert eventually had 9 children - five girls and four boys. The youngest, baby Beatrice was only 3 when her father died. Tragically, Victoria had only 21 wonderful years with her 'Dear Albert' and had to live 40 more as a widow - always pining for her dearly beloved. She kept his room exactly as he left it - with fresh hot water for shaving and a new outfit laid out every day as if he'd come back at any moment. A bit morbid, perhaps, but fitting for her passionate love for him.

All of the Victorian values of morality, elitism, religion, industrialism and improvement - all of these come, not from the Queen, but from her husband. He insisted on cleaning up the royal image - imposing much stricter guidelines and rules for running the court, their households and the country in general. In truth we should call them Albertian values - morality, modesty, efficiency, improvement, etc. How different would the world have been had Victoria never fallen in love and married Albert? Historians speculate that if Albert had lived just one more year he may have been able to prevent World War I, which occured many decades after his death. (I won't give away how - you have to read the book! ;)

Even if you've studied this era before (as I have), you'll still find a few interesting new facts and views on it. I'm only halfway through, but enjoying it quite a bit.

And whenever I read about Victoria I find myself wanting to watch certain movies, too. Such as Young Victoria and Mrs. Brown. Two very different times in the queen's life and both fairly accurate (with some artistic licence taken in both in concern for exactly who saved her from assassins, but you have to allow for some dramatic scenes to be altered to fit the stories, I suppose). Both movies are well acted and the costumes and settings are remarkable. Great movies to watch around Valentine's Day as they are very romantic, too.

Happy Friday!
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