A Magnificent Obsession

A Magnificent Obsession

Victoria, Albert, and the Death That Changed the British Monarchy

Book - 2012
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Uses Royal Archives sources to examine how the untimely death of Prince Albert plunged both his queen and the nation into a profound state of grief that reshaped the British monarchy.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2012.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780312621056
Branch Call Number: 941.081 R182
Characteristics: xvi, 336 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.


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Nov 12, 2012

Having read and enjoyed Helen Rapport's book on the demise of Tsar Nicholas and his family The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg, I was anxious to get my hands on this. I was a little worried to find blurbs on the back from People Magazine, Charles Spencer (Diana, Princess of Wales' unpredictable brother), and Alison Weir, but I needn't have worried. This book is well-written and carefully researched.

The relationship between Queen Victoria and her beloved consort Prince Albert is hardly a new topic, but Rappaport dedicates the first half of her book on the weeks leading up to Albert's untimely death in 1861, while the second half covers the following decade, during which Victoria retreated almost entirely from public life, much to the concern and exasperation of her family, government, and subjects. This is an interesting and well-researched look into the consequences of Albert's death and its impact on the Royal Family, Great Britain as a whole, and the mourning industry in particular.

Rappaport treats the Queen's unremitting sorrow with just enough sympathy that we may not quite feel like strangling Victoria by the end, but we will have even more sympathy for Victoria's children (especially her daughters), her beleaguered courtiers and Albert himself. She includes an appendix on modern medicine's attempt to identify the illness that killed the Consort off.


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