Victoria: Portrait of a Queen

256p. bibliog. chron. index. notes. photos. reprods. Clarion. Nov. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544716148.
Gr 6 Up—This intimate portrait of Queen Victoria simultaneously provides a panorama of the 19th century's great cultural, political, and technological upheaval. Victoria's life is novelistic in scope, and Reef deftly integrates primary sources. Speaking through her diaries and letters, the young Victoria engages readers in her passionate struggle for self-determination. As an older queen, her stormy opposition to the reforming Prime Minister Gladstone provides ample drama. Balancing Victoria's voice, her family, prime ministers, and the British public, Reef offers myriad, often dissenting, perspectives. While the queen embodied middle-class domesticity, Reef reminds readers that she also oversaw the British Empire. A prime example is Victoria's balancing of her eldest son's education and the outbreak of the Crimean War. The plentiful lush images track both Victoria's Britain and changing artistic technologies and styles, from satirical Regency cartoons to family photographs. The appendices include a précis of the limits of monarchical power, a family tree, and a list of British rulers. Fact-seekers can navigate the extensive back matter with much success.
VERDICT For history buffs and fans of historical fiction, this biography allows readers to immerse themselves in 19th-century voices and aesthetics.

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