Catherine Reef brings history vividly to life in this sumptuously illustrated account of a confident, strong-minded, and influential woman.
Victoria woke one morning at the age of eighteen to discover that her uncle had died and she was now queen. She went on to rule for sixty-three years, with an influence so far-reaching that the decades of her reign now bear her name—the Victorian period. Victoria is filled with the exciting comings and goings of royal life: intrigue and innuendo, scheming advisors, and assassination attempts, not to mention plenty of passion and discord.
Includes bibliography, notes, British royal family tree, index.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: None
Booklist (September 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 2))
Grades 7-10. Royalty seems to have a perpetual hold on young readers’ imaginations, and this biography brings the young nineteenth-century queen to the forefront. First, it skims her childhood in a palace, coronation, and fairy tale wedding before going beyond those highlights to shed light on Victoria’s long-lived importance at a time when England and its empire were rapidly changing amid spectacular technological advances. If the conditions of Her Majesty’s rule recalls that of great-great-granddaughter Elizabeth II’s reign, it won’t be lost on those absorbing Reef’s beautifully produced book. Full of color portraits, period engravings, and fascinating photographs of the queen, her consort, and her progeny, this endeavor is made to pore over again and again. Victoria’s personality is at the forefront and humanizes the bio. She is by turns hot-tempered and fair, hardworking yet emotional. Back matter includes a family tree that leads to newest royals George and Charlotte, as well as extensive notes. Anglophiles and history lovers should definitely enjoy this.
Horn Book Magazine (January/February, 2018)
Fans’ obsession with Victorian England seems never-ending, yet how much do young Victorianaphiles know about the real woman who gave the period its name? Coming to the rescue is veteran biographer Reef (Ernest Hemingway, rev. 9/09; Florence Nightingale, rev. 5/16) who, beginning with Victoria’s family background and her complicated and cruel upbringing, paints a vivid portrait of the feisty monarch who assumed the British throne at age eighteen and then ruled for over sixty years. Reef dexterously shows not only Victoria’s development as a person but also her evolution as a ruler within the social and political upheavals of her time, elegantly layering in details to provide a broader view of the era (including the misery of the desperately poor throughout the British Isles, and the brutal bloodshed tied to Britain’s empire-building in places like the Crimean region, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Victoria’s “jewel in the crown,” India). On the personal side, readers will be intrigued by the well-drawn descriptions of Victoria’s relationships with a range of individuals including prime ministers, her own children, other family members, and the various men in her life. These last include her beloved husband Albert and the Scotsman John Brown, a retainer who became (scandalously) close to Victoria after the prince consort’s death. Full of primary source material and spectacular paintings in full color as well as back matter that includes a Windsor family tree, source notes, and a rich bibliography, this is a biography for Victoriana and history lovers alike. monica edinger
About the Author
Catherine Reef is the author of more than 35 nonfiction books for young people. Her books for Clarion include the highly acclaimed John Steinbeck and Sigmund Freud, which was the recipient of the 2002 Sydney Taylor Award, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries. She lives in College Park, Maryland.
Her website is www.catherinereef.com.
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