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Becoming Queen Paperback – 5 Mar 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; Paperback. 0.2 edition (5 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099451824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099451822
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 401,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The amazing untold story of Victoria before she was Queen ... Kate Williams reveals a passionate young woman beloved of her future subjects but at war with her family" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Passionate, exuberant and entertaining, a treasure trove of royalty, intrigue and politics ... vividly and sensitively brings to life the girl who would become Queen" (Simon Sebag Montefiore)

"This fresh and vivid portrayal of the young Queen Victoria is deserving of the highest praise. I cannot recommend it highly enough" (Alison Weir, author of The Lady Elizabeth)

"Becoming Queen showcases an outstanding talent from whom we can expect much more" (Matthew d'Ancona Spectator)

"History as exciting and tempestuous as you are ever likely to find" (Country Life)

Review

This fresh and vivid portrayal of the young Queen Victoria is deserving of the highest praise. I cannot recommend it highly enough --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Kate Williams has followed up her excellent biography of Lady Hamilton 'England's Mistress', with this fascinating book on how Queen Victoria ascended the throne. Beginning with the troubled path that would lead to the emergence of the Victorian age, Kate Williams depicts the dissolute and the degenerate heirs of George III, and the question surrounding the future heir the young and vulnerable princess Charlotte. The first half of the book introduces the reader to the background and its many characters who all wanted a stake at the throne. It is due to Kate Williams' attention to detail that she captures a whole host of memorable figures, not least Victoria's mother and the machiavellian John Conroy.

Ultimately in this very engaging historical biography, Kate Williams has achieved in bringing to life young Victoria, spirited, intelligent, and passionate, who through a change of fortune would become one of the most important monarchs in world history. A monarch who with the love of her future husband Albert, would usher in a new optimistic age. Brilliant and my pick for the best biography of 2008.
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Format: Hardcover
I very much enjoyed Kate Williams' previous (debut) book 'Lady Hamilton 'England's Mistress', and looked forward keenly to reading her latest account of the early years of Queen Victoria and the exceptional circumstances that culminated in her reign. I was not disappointed. Kate Williams has a deceptively easy style that makes her books highly readable. Contrary to another reviewer I did enjoy the long introductory paragraphs about Victoria's cousin Charlotte - the princess who should have been Queen: so little is written of her short, tragic life and it was illuminating to become acquainted with her before moving on to the subject 'an icon of the 19th century'. The book finished rather abruptly: I know it is an account of Victoria's early years and much has been written about the rest of her reign but perhaps my disappointment at the ending is indicative of how utterly absorbing and entertaining I found this marvellous book.
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Format: Hardcover
By the time I reached the epilogue I loved this book but it was rather heavy going to begin with as we learnt about the cruel upbringing and subsequent untimely death of the princess who should have been queen instead of Victoria. I thought the Charlotte years could have been condensed into rather fewer pages, and more emphasis given to Victoria's accession in order to affirm the book's title. Notwithstanding the above points, I heartily recommend this book as Kate Williams shows us a side of Victoria that came as rather a surprise to me: what a nympho!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Queen Victoria was never meant to be Queen of England. Her cousin, Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince Regent, was the heir to the throne. Charlotte's tragic death in childbirth meant that George III's many children had to scramble to marry & have legitimate children, one of whom would inherit the throne. Although George III & his Queen had fifteen children, when Charlotte died, there were no other legitimate heirs. The royal Dukes had illegally married unsuitable women or kept mistresses & had over 50 illegitimate children. There was an undignified rush to ditch their partners & find respectable princesses to marry. The Duke of Kent married Victoire of Saxe-Coburg & Victoria was born. This fascinating book tells the story of Charlotte & Victoria. Charlotte's childhood was unhappy as her parents hated each other & used her to score points off each other. Victoria's childhood was dominated by her mother as her father died when she was a baby. Victoire came under the influence of Sir John Conroy, who ran her household. They were determined that Victoria would not rule alone & made plans for a regency if her uncles should die before she was eighteen. Victoria was equally determined to rule without her mother or Sir John. Her childhood was one of virtual imprisonment as her mother schemed to promote her daughter to the public as the heir to the throne. An interesting picture of the formative years of a Queen.
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Format: Paperback
Kate William's biography "Becoming Queen" recounts a sizable amount of British history and the improbable devolution of title of monarch onto the fragile shoulders of a girl of eighteen of under five foot in height,the future Queen Victoria. The story is amazing and destroys some of the myths one heard at school - The Prince Regent is stripped of his legendary romantic elegance, his daughter Princess Caroline appears as the truly popular expectant heir, and the maverick young Victoria emerges as a fighter who fully assumes her role despite a hostile entourage and even family. Even Prince Albert appears as a courageous consort and some "Victorian Values" not so dull after all. Clearly and racily written, this book is recommended as a good read and an eye-opener, full of precise and fascinating information.
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Format: Hardcover
The good: the book is engaging and detailed, and paints vivid pictures of Charlotte, Victoria and the people in their lives. The protagonists' faults or weaknesses are not overlooked, but help create rounded portraits. The writing is easy to read, but doesn't come across as lightweight. I would call it a good introduction to their lives, showing clearly how many hurdles they faced.

My reservations stem from the section on Victoria, because I am more familiar with her life than Charlotte's. Principally, the portrait of Albert that emerges reads more like caricature - the stodgy and conniving Coburg princeling - than the highly intelligent, passionately loving and inexperienced twenty-year-old he was when they married. His humour (which wasn't on display for strangers; he was shy) never rates a mention, and the author seems to take issue with him wanting to do more than just be a decorative royal stud. The overall tone leaves one wondering if Albert loved Victoria at all or was just manipulating her - an entirely unreasonable stance, given all the evidence of their lives.

Another claim made in passing has, in my opinion, no place in a serious biography. Saying that "surely" Stockmar arranged for Albert to visit a courtesan before his marriage smears both men as hypocrites. Albert's whole family background, with his mother divorced by his hypocritical and promiscuous father, and his brother's acquisition of VD at an early age, clearly made sexual license abhorrent to him. There are simply no grounds for supposing he would have visited a prostitute in preparation for his marriage.

There are also factual errors. One simple one should have been caught by editing: calling Melbourne head of the Tory party.
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