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Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death That Changed the Monarchy Hardcover – 3 Nov 2011


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Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death That Changed the Monarchy + We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals + Queen Victoria's Children
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (3 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091931541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091931544
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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)

"Rappaport draws on a wide range of sources, including unpublished royal letters, contemporary diaries and newspapers to create an insightful, absorbing and highly readable account of these events, but Magnificent Obsession is also 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)

"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)

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

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By bookworm on 22 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Simpson-long TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Royal Windsor on 8 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
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. One example - repeatedly, descriptions are are given of the Royal Standard 'flying at half mast'. This never happens and anyone with the most cursory knowledge of Royal custom should know this. (Remember it was widely discussed when Princess Diana died). It is such a shame that the author lets herself down by silly mistakes such as this. It is so easy to check these things. The book was great but such errors are irritating.
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