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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars delightful, delectable and easily digestible
Christoper Hibbert once again shows himself to be one of the best popular historian writing today. In this personal portrait - for that is what it is, there are no complex political analyses here - he truthfully and intimately depicts one of the most significant world leaders of the post industrial world. By showing Victoria through the eyes of her family, household and...
Published on 22 Jan 2002 by david.green@email.labour.org.uk

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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Victoria, warts and all
After reading some glittering medieval and Tudor biographies, I wanted to fill in the gaps closer to our own day. Christopher Hibbert's comprehensive, readable biography is a good starting-point. However, as detractors have pointed out, it is short on political analysis. The emphasis is on "royal".
Hibbert sets the stage for Victoria's accession with a marvellous...
Published on 17 Jun 2003 by Anonymous


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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars delightful, delectable and easily digestible, 22 Jan 2002
This review is from: Queen Victoria: A Personal History (Paperback)
Christoper Hibbert once again shows himself to be one of the best popular historian writing today. In this personal portrait - for that is what it is, there are no complex political analyses here - he truthfully and intimately depicts one of the most significant world leaders of the post industrial world. By showing Victoria through the eyes of her family, household and ministers, Hibbert manages to deal impartially with the many "grey areas" of Victoria's life - the "John Brown" rumours, for example, are dealt with in a very informative and unbiased manner. Hibbert's method of using short, succinct chapters of no more than about 15 pages makes this an good book to read in bits to get a general feel for the issues and themes of Victoria's life and reign. A right good read!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hibbert notches up another admirable achievement, 17 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Queen Victoria: A Personal History (Paperback)
Christopher Hibbert, now aged 77, has 34 books to his credit. This staggering total presumably includes one or two lemons, but this reviewer has yet to find any. Hibbert's latest volume belongs with his very best, and defies anyone to read a single chapter without immediately gobbling up the next half-dozen.
It might be thought that Queen Victoria's two finest pre-Hibbert biographers, Elizabeth Longford and Stanley Weintraub, had between them exhausted their theme. Hibbert, though, draws on Royal Archives material which no previous book-length study has used. While the result compels no spectacular revisions of accepted verdicts, it periodically shines instructive new beams of light.
How did Victoria survive? Partly through luck: she died just before Hearst- or Pulitzer-style gutter-journalism had emerged with the aim of routing all political authority save its own. Partly through the sheer strength of monarchism's position throughout Europe in the half-century before World War I: a period when only Switzerland, Portugal (after 1910), Spain (1873-75) and Third Republic France (itself crypto-monarchist) formally eschewed kingship. But partly through that most elusive of personal attributes: a charm that could, when she chose, thaw the frostiest critics. It thawed them posthumously as well: above all in the case of Lytton Strachey, who began his account of her life with every intention of dancing the Charleston on her grave, but whose reflexive sniggers she eventually silenced. It has clearly won over Hibbert too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Hibbert, 22 April 2001
By A Customer
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I can but fully agree with the last sentence of the above "Book Information". This book combines great volume with great readability, showing Victoria to be a romantic and at times broadminded woman (just look at her taste in art in the illustrations section). The Court morals of the time becoming "Victorian" during her reign - although they might have more aptly been called "Albertian" - were only mirroring a tendency visible in all the royal houses of Europe, and probably more a result of the 1848 scare that they got than of anything else, of princes wanting to copy and even set the tone of middle class family virtues and in that sense being the first citizen of their countries. All in all, very informative and very entertainingly written.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Victoria, warts and all, 17 Jun 2003
This review is from: Queen Victoria: A Personal History (Paperback)
After reading some glittering medieval and Tudor biographies, I wanted to fill in the gaps closer to our own day. Christopher Hibbert's comprehensive, readable biography is a good starting-point. However, as detractors have pointed out, it is short on political analysis. The emphasis is on "royal".
Hibbert sets the stage for Victoria's accession with a marvellous summary of how her various royal forebears failed to provide an heir, so that she succeeded by default. He delineates Queen Victoria's complex relationships with several Prime Ministers: her neediness with Lord Melbourne and Disraeli, antipathy towards Palmerston and Gladstone, respect for Salisbury. Unfortunately he does not clearly enough differentiate between Whigs and Tories. But he does acquaint the reader with the major political personalities and put you in a position to explore further. A useful reference alongside this book is "The Prime Ministers from Walpole to Macmillan" (possibly only available in the UK, and in danger of going out of print).
Skilfully interweaving Victoria's personal history with national and international landmark events, Hibbert provides handy, if underwritten, overviews of the Indian Mutiny, the Crimean War, the Great Exhibition, and Chartism. He also sketches contemporary European royals like Napoleon III, exploring tensions between France, Italy and Austria.
Co-dependency, egotism and self-pity characterised Victoria's personal contacts. Her henpecking of her intelligent, unpopular consort Albert, and later selfish blocking of her children's marriages in order to keep them around, echo her own repressive childhood. But Victoria's households at Balmoral and Osborne were beacons of domesticity, and she was well-travelled and sophisticated.
She hated pregnancy, resented her children, and was scathingly dismissive of the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII). After Prince Albert's untimely death, she avoided official engagements for years, to the consternation of her government and people. She fostered obsessional bonds with her Scottish and Indian servants.
Her prolific writings reveal a needy, infantile and self-obsessed woman. Her USE of CAPITALS in an age before the telephone, is a way of SHOUTING (not unlike the internet), and italics give her prose stridency.
So what were Queen Victoria's merits, if any? By dint of longevity she was the epoxy glue of the Age which took her name, and her progeny peopled the Royal houses of Europe. Surviving several assasination attempts, Victoria held her family and household in thrall, and the country in awe. Somehow she inspired the loyalty, if also exasperation, of her Governments.
Henry VIII or Elizabeth I she ain't, but the story is worth reading. Christopher Hibbert gives an urbane, accessible account, with mercifully short chapters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern, readable portrait of Victoria, 29 Mar 2010
By 
CJ (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Queen Victoria: A Personal History (Paperback)
Christopher Hibbert is extremely good at taking a complex subject and making it readable without any dumbing down. I read this book a while ago, but came back to it again recently, because one of the advantages of Hibbert's books is that they work on the level of both a good read and a good reference work. He brings Victoria to life and at the same time provides us with a good portrait of Albert, and an incidental understanding of some major events in the Victorian period as well. The reader could become irritated by a woman who was frequently both self centred and selfish, but Hibbert balances his warts an all description with enough sympathy for his subject, that the reader retains interest in her until the end. This book really brings Victoria and her circle to life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable and undemanding read..., 18 Jan 2014
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Victoria: A Personal History (Paperback)
Queen Victoria was, as A.N. Wilson described her, a 'loveable monster', wilful, stubborn, capricious, demanding, but also capable of great charm and insight, compassionate, utterly without prejudice as to class, caste, race or religion but insistent to the nth degree on the minutiae of court protocol and precedent. She was a tremendously contradictory figure, and yet even today her influence lingers on. Modern Britain is still very much Victoria's Britain.

In this engaging biography, Hibbert really manages to capture her personality so that she becomes more than just the symbol of an Empire and an age, but a real vital and vivid individual. This is not a history of Victoria's time or reign; as the title states it is very much a personal history of Victoria herself. Few of the great events of the age are dealt with in any in-depth fashion, and monumental personalities such as Wellington, Gladstone and Disraeli appear solely in relation to their dealings and relationship with the Queen. Light as it may be, it is nonetheless an enjoyable and undemanding read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet Queen Victoria!, 10 May 2010
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This review is from: Queen Victoria: A Personal History (Paperback)
This book is certainly well worth reading. Hibbert brings Victoria back to life! You feel that you are actually walking along the corridors of the palace with her entourage. I found it very useful that there is a family history diagram at the front so that one can work out who Victoria is in relation to George lll, George 1V and who her father and mother were etc. because very often we think of her as an old woman without actually knowing where she came from. P.s I'm not going to tell you; if you don't know then you will have to get this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fasinating insight into queen victoria's married life, 6 Jan 2001
By A Customer
I couldn't put this book down but didn't want to finish it as I would be left wanting more. It showed a side of victoria I had never heard of. She was always portrayed as a grumpy old lady dressed in black. Here we see her as a vibrant,loving and devoted wife and mother absolutely devasted by the death of the only man she ever truly loved. It also showed an interesting insight to the goings on in Parliament and of her Prime Ministers at that time, again I was not aware that she had so many PM's in her time as Queen. Historically it was fasinating and has left me with a desire to learn more of our history. A wonderful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight, 7 Mar 2010
By 
Frances Stott (Devizes, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Victoria: A Personal History (Paperback)
This is a delightful book on very level. It tells the story of the life of Queen Victoria in an easy, accessible style, illustrated with many exerpts from her letters and diaries, and those of some of her contemporaries. Thus, the story of this gifted, sometimes happy, often deeply sad woman is brought to life in the words of those who knew her, and gives a very full and absorbing picture of a troubled but dutiful monarch. While it is obviously of historical interest, this book sometimes comes across like a well-written novel, and I challenge anyone not to find it a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, clear insight to Victoria and her life., 21 Aug 2009
By 
M. Edvardsen (Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Victoria: A Personal History (Paperback)
This book provided an understanding of Victoria as a queen, a wife, a mother and a woman. Resources are vast, especially based on uncountable letters written and recieved by Victoria, therefore creating a very personal glimps into her thoughts and reasons. This book keeps your attention and makes learning enjoyable. If it is Victoria the person that one is interested, with an insight to royalty life during her reign, then this book is highly recommended.
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Queen Victoria: A Personal History
Queen Victoria: A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert (Paperback - 3 Sep 2001)
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