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Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death That Changed the Monarchy

Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death That Changed the Monarchy [Kindle Edition]

Helen Rappaport
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"A fascinating exposition of the art of mourning which Victoria made peculiarly her own . . . Magnificent Obsession is that rare creature; a scholarly book that wears its learning lightly and is written with clarity and insight. It is a fascinating subject and an even better read: a model of its kind." (Sunday Express)

"In this intriguing study, Helen Rappaport sets out to tell the story of the royal anguish that followed Albert's death in December 1861 . . . she excels in her portrayal of a cult of mourning over which the queen presided with all the imperious intensity of a high priestess. Fair-minded, thoughtful and rich in social detail." (Sunday Times)

"Rappaport uses new sources to give a vivid account of Albert's death . . . a valuable and insightful book which will change our view of Queen Victoria." (Spectator)

"Brilliant . . . Helen Rappaport is especially good on the incompetence of the gang of medics who presided over Albert's illness." (Daily Mail)

"To mark the 150th anniversary of Albert's death, Helen Rappaport looks at the circumstances leading up to it, the ritual of his funeral and obsequies, and offers new theories on what killed him." (Majesty magazine)

Book Description

A poignant and fascinating account of a queen and country in mourning

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2076 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (3 Nov 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LPE582
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #84,076 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Obsession 19 Nov 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This is not a usual biography, but an examination of the death of Albert, the Prince Consort, and Queen Victoria's reaction to it. As Helen Rappaport points out, biographies often neglect to examine the death of Albert, choosing to look at Victoria's life before or after her becoming a widow. Yet, her extreme reaction to the loss of her husband changed, and undermined, the monarchy. This book seeks to understand why Victoria reacted as she did and the effect of her intense mourning on her family and the nation.

The book begins with a joyful Christmas, 1860, with the family having an almost childish delight in present giving and Christmas trees and merry making; little knowing that the following December would lead to the loss of Prince Albert. Victoria was a woman who needed love and attention - her early life dominated by her mother, she later relied on other male figures, such as the Prime Minister, before finding ecstatic love in her marriage to Albert and later leaning on her Scottish servant John Brown. Although with no official role or title for a long time, Albert was patient and, by his death, was acting as a 'dual monarch' with Victoria, who relied upon him absolutely as her surrogate father, husband, best friend, assistant and teacher.

Victoria believed that worries about their eldest son, Albert, Prince of Wales ("poor Bertie") caused Albert to become ill. However, the book discusses various causes; from overwork to isolation. The author presents a very sympathetic picture of this man, much resented and seen as formal, prudish and reserved, yet essential to the smooth running of the monarchy. His illness and death is described in detail and his death plunged the nation into mourning.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Obsession - Magnificent Book 17 Nov 2011
By Elaine Simpson-long TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I love Prince Albert.

For so many years portrayed and seen as a dour, miserable, straight-laced Germanic bore, it is a delight to me that over the past twenty or so years, various biographies have put the record straight. He had had an idyllic childhood in Rosenau with his brother Ernst spending their time `walking, hunting, shooting and fencing, as well as indulging their fascination with science and nature in a passion for collecting specimens'. Albert was an accomplished pianist and organist as well as a fine singer and talented composer. All this at 21 and at that age he found himself married to one of the most important monarchs on the European stage. One wonders what would have happened if this marriage, long arranged, had been an unhappy one, if Victoria had not loved him. We all we all know she adored him.

In fact she probably adored him too much. Her passion for her husband was all consuming though in the first years of her marriage this did not stop her from trying to dominate him and jealously guard her royal prerogative and status. It was a tricky time but Albert negotiated his way through the minefield that was Victoria's temperament with consummate skill, understanding and love until the stage was reached when he was her `beloved Albert' and she allowed herself to become subsumed in him, looking for his approval in everything, consulting him in all state matters and allowing him to expand her knowledge of books, music and art. She was aware that her own education was sadly lacking and was happy to bow to him in everything. By the time of his death in 1861 he was acknowledged to be King in all but name.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive read 22 Nov 2011
Being a nocturnal reader, I was consigned to the spare bedroom by my husband, as I was unable to put Magnificent Obsession down! My God was it worth it!
Helen Rappaport weaves her story and gently pulls you into history unlike many books of this genre, which at times can be dull as ditchwater and a cure for insomnia.
The book was well researched, thoughtfully written and thoroughly enjoyable. It brings Victoria to life, during a very bleak period, into focus and shows how manipulative and childlike her behaviour could be. Rappaport also gives a new and fresh slant on what could have actually caused poor,interferring and overworked Alberts demise.
She also describes vividly the family dynamics and titbits of history which I wasn't aware of, such as Britain almost being dragged into war with America, or that Victoria never really enjoyed her childrens company, preferring Albert,such was her obsessive love.
It is a book which I would whole heartedly recommend.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crowning glory 20 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read some of Helen Rappaport's other books, I had high expectations of 'Magnificent Obsession'. I'm pleased to say that they were exceeded. Much has been written about Queen Victoria's long reign, but in this book Rappaport turns her keen historical eye on the year leading up to Prince Albert's death, and the two decades of dedicated mourning that followed. Victoria's own overwhelming grief is juxtaposed with that of a nation who considered the Prince Consort to be their uncrowned king.

Rappaport's account is scholarly, yet compelling and highly readable. The story is placed in unobtrusive, meticulous historical context, and the archival research is impeccable. I am an academic researcher in this field and rarely have I encountered a book that has satisfied in so many different respects.

'Magnificent Obssession' will appeal to both specialist and general readers, and is an example of historical writing at its best.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Magnificent indeed!
Published 1 month ago by Revd Q. Wilson
Added a little more to my knowledge of this fascinating woman and her obsession with her dead husband. Read more
Published 3 months ago by anthonyc
5.0 out of 5 stars The real Victoria and albert
An excellent study of the marriage that set the standard for the Victorian age. Victoria was the ultimate example of a woman who loved too much. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Daisy Goodwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!
This book is amazingly well researched and gives a very interesting insight into the character of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I found I could hardly put it down. Read more
Published 20 months ago by gillian McWhirter
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Obsession
I loved this. It was well-researched and written with authority, but with a lightness that it made it very readable. Thank you very much.
Published 20 months ago by G. M. J. Morrissey
5.0 out of 5 stars Silly mistakes!
I agree with what others have written, this is a very good read. Why, oh why, though do such good authors (and their editors) make such basic mistakes. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Royal Windsor
I always knew that Queen Victoria was affected by the death of her beloved Albert, but I did not know how deep that mourning went, and for how long. Now I do. Read more
Published 20 months ago by bibliophile
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent obsession
Although classed as a popular history Helen Rappaports book deserves to rank with more erudite biographies of Victoria. Read more
Published 23 months ago by colin
5.0 out of 5 stars The Queen's obsession ...
I always enjoy reading books about various aspects of Queen Victoria's life, and the lives of her family members, or Victorian times. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Keen Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting exploration of Victoria's obsessive self-indulgent...
The archetypal image of Queen Victoria has always been of a short dumpy woman clad in black widows' weeds, sober and disapproving and endlessly mourning her beloved husband Prince... Read more
Published on 20 Sep 2012 by C. Ball
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