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We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivalsby Gillian Gill
Synopses & Reviews
It was the most influential marriage of the nineteenth century-and one of historys most enduring love stories. Traditional biographies tell us that Queen Victoria inherited the throne as a naïve teenager, when the British Empire was at the height of its power, and seemed doomed to find failure as a monarch and misery as a woman until she married her German cousin Albert and accepted him as her lord and master. Now renowned chronicler Gillian Gill turns this familiar story on its head, revealing a strong, feisty queen and a brilliant, fragile prince working together to build a family based on support, trust, and fidelity, qualities neither had seen much of as children. The love affair that emerges is far more captivating, complex, and relevant than that depicted in any previous account.
The epic relationship began poorly. The cousins first met as teenagers for a few brief, awkward, chaperoned weeks in 1836. At seventeen, charming rather than beautiful, Victoria already “showed signs of wanting her own way.” Albert, the boy who had been groomed for her since birth, was chubby, self-absorbed, and showed no interest in girls, let alone this princess. So when they met again in 1839 as queen and presumed prince-consort-to-be, neither had particularly high hopes. But the queen was delighted to discover a grown man, refined, accomplished, and whiskered. “Albert is beautiful!” Victoria wrote, and she proposed just three days later.
As Gill reveals, Victoria and Albert entered their marriage longing for intimate companionship, yet each was determined to be the ruler. This dynamic would continue through the years-each spouse, headstrong and impassioned, eager to lead the marriage on his or her own terms. For two decades, Victoria and Albert engaged in a very public contest for dominance. Against all odds, the marriage succeeded, but it was always a work in progress. And in the end, it was Alberts early death that set the Queen free to create the myth of her marriage as a peaceful idyll and her husband as Galahad, pure and perfect.
As Gill shows, the marriage of Victoria and Albert was great not because it was perfect but because it was passionate and complicated. Wonderfully nuanced, surprising, often acerbic-and informed by revealing excerpts from the pairs journals and letters-We Two is a revolutionary portrait of a queen and her prince, a fascinating modern perspective on a couple who have become a legend.
"According to Gill (Nightingales), the age that has been labeled Victorian was, in its origins, Albertian. Prince Albert was the chaste scion of a family of ambitious, debt-ridden, sexually corrupt misogynists, and his holy war of moral strictness made him appear straitlaced, judgmental and sanctimonious. In marrying Victoria, says Gill, Albert planned to take the reins of British power, though parliamentary rules didn't allow him to be king. Gill paints a portrait of this marriage as a 'work in progress,' in which the balance of power shifted continually between queen and consort, but Victoria's repeated pregnancies caused a dramatic shift in Albert's favor: he joined her meetings with ministers, and met or corresponded with the most powerful men in England and abroad. His great accomplishment was keeping Great Britain out of the American Civil War; he also served a stint as chancellor of Cambridge, bringing the university into the modern world. Despite their constant battle for dominance, Victoria was always madly in love while Albert was pleased to be adored. A lively, perceptive, impressively researched biography of what Gill terms 'a forerunner of today's power couple.' 16 pages of color illus.; b&w illus. throughout." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Gill presents a 21st-century perspective on a giant of English history, Queen Victoria, and her marriage to German Prince Albert--timed to benefit from the release of the upcoming film "The Young Victoria," starring Emily Blunt.
About the Author
Gillian Gill, who holds a PhD in modern French literature from Cambridge University, has taught at Northeastern, Wellesley, Yale, and Harvard. She is the author of Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale, Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries, and Mary Baker Eddy. She lives in suburban Boston.
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