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Queen Victoria: A Life [Paperback]

Lytton Strachey
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 19 2012
Lytton Strachey's acclaimed portrayal of Queen Victoria revolutionized the art of biography by using elements of romantic fiction and melodrama to create a warm, humorous, and very human portrait of this iconic figure. We see Victoria as a strong-willed child with a famous temper, as the 18-year-old girl queen, as a monarch, wife, mother, and widow. Equally fascinating are the depictions of her relationships: with her governess “precious Lehzen,” with Peel, Gladstone, and Disraeli, with her beloved Albert, and, in later life, her legendary devotion to her Highland servant John Brown, all of which show a different side of the staid, pious image that is so often attached to her.

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Review

"Hilarious social commentary...If all biographies were like Strachey's, they would probably kill off the novel altogether." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Written in 1921, Lytton Strachey’s Queen Victoria revolutionized the art of biography by using elements of romantic fiction and melodrama to create a warm, humorous, and very human portrait of an iconic figure. We see Victoria as a strong–willed child with a famous temper, as the eighteen–year–old girl–Queen, as a monarch, wife, mother, and widow. Equally fascinating are the depictions of her relationships: with her governess “precious Lehzen,” with Peel, Gladstone, and Disraeli, with her beloved Albert, and, in later life, her legendary devotion to her Highland servant John Brown, all of which illuminate an altogether different side to Victoria’s staid, pious image. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering biography June 20 2003
Format:Paperback
This life of Queen Victoria set a new standard for biographies when it was written and it still reads very well today. To the modern ear some of Strachey's language may at times be a bit dry. That aside this is an excellent study of the development of Victoria from infancy to old age. The entanglement's of family and the influence of key ministers is well covered and documented . Especially interesting is the treatment of Prince Albert and the Queen's relationship.
I found this to be quite an informative book and would highly recommend it to anyone with a curiosity regarding this period of British history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars still one of the best things around Dec 2 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
strachey became famous for his 'eminent victorians' which has the reputation for being a hatchet job-but he was looking at the previous generation from the disillusioned, post-WWI perspective, and he treats florence nightingale et al more like prodigies than monsters. when he undertook to write about the eponymous queen herself, people expected it would be another exercise in target practice-even his mother tried to discourage him, saying that 'if she was stupid, it was not her fault.' But in the event what he produced is one of the most sympathetic, if slightly condescending, biographies ever written-and absolutely one of the most accomplished. it is a chronicle of victoria's 60+-year-long political career and emotional life, a series of portraits of all the personalities in her life-including albert, his curious replacement john brown, disraeli-him, it is true, strachey clearly did not like-a completely non-pedantic reflection on the growth and eventual shrinkage of the british empire during her reign-and the whole thing is done so subtly, so gracefully-and, at the same time, so forcefully-that you may find yourself talking about nothing else but this book and queen victoria for days afterward. one of the most successful marriages of rigorous scholarship and beautiful style in english literature.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed book, but a little dry - informative Sept. 30 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed this detailed book about Queen Victoria's life. It had a lot of detail, but the writing style was a bit dry and old-fashioned (the book was written a while ago). It also didn't have as much detail of her life after Prince Albert died, which was unfortunate. It was sympathetic to her and generally very informative. I would recommend this book highly to people seeking to learn more about Queen Victoria, but not to someone seeking "light reading" as it is a bit hard to read due to the older writing style.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pivotal & Engaging May 19 2010
By L A B - Published on Amazon.com
Strachey's book was published orginally in 1921 and was a pivotal biography according to Linda Wagner-Martin in "Telling Women's Lives - The New Biography". This book broke away from tradition and provided a deeper look at the Queen and all those around her by abandoning the notion of promoting a person's successess and strengths and instead paints the portrait of a human with weaknesses, motivations, strengths, and stuggles. The reader sees the Queen in relationships that become history and see the impact of personality in making decisions.

The book is engaging especially once Victoria moves beyond childhood and becomes Queen. The portrait of Edward and Victoria's relationship is vivid. The story provides a rich understanding of places in the lives of the royal family that continue today, namely Balmoral, and give a glimpse at the royal family culture that can be seen in current events. It is more than a book about Queen Victoria.

Enjoy!
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging study of a fascinating monarch Sept. 10 2010
By Carla - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Giles Lytton Strachey was an early 20th century writer and biographer who developed a reputation for writing biographies that dealt with individuals as people, rather than the events they were associated with. His 1921 biography of the British monarch, Queen Victoria, is a highly readable insight into this long-reigning queen.

Many public domain books can be slow to read, with language that is sometimes archaic when compared to contemporary writing. This is not the case with Strachey's work. Not only does it thoroughly cover Victoria's life from childhood to death, but it is an engaging read that explores Victoria's relationships, both personal and professional. I particularly liked reading of the love between Victoria and her husband, Albert, much of which is detailed in Victoria's journals and letters. I also enjoyed Strachey's turn of phrase and his ability to create such effective word-pictures of this fascinating monarch and her life.

If you have any interest in history or curiosity about British monarchs I think you will enjoy this book. I certainly did - far more than I expected to.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars still one of the best things around Dec 2 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
strachey became famous for his 'eminent victorians' which has the reputation for being a hatchet job-but he was looking at the previous generation from the disillusioned, post-WWI perspective, and he treats florence nightingale et al more like prodigies than monsters. when he undertook to write about the eponymous queen herself, people expected it would be another exercise in target practice-even his mother tried to discourage him, saying that 'if she was stupid, it was not her fault.' But in the event what he produced is one of the most sympathetic, if slightly condescending, biographies ever written-and absolutely one of the most accomplished. it is a chronicle of victoria's 60+-year-long political career and emotional life, a series of portraits of all the personalities in her life-including albert, his curious replacement john brown, disraeli-him, it is true, strachey clearly did not like-a completely non-pedantic reflection on the growth and eventual shrinkage of the british empire during her reign-and the whole thing is done so subtly, so gracefully-and, at the same time, so forcefully-that you may find yourself talking about nothing else but this book and queen victoria for days afterward. one of the most successful marriages of rigorous scholarship and beautiful style in english literature.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting portrait of a queen Aug. 3 2000
By omarbukka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A readable and fairly brief account of Victoria. Frequent passages from Victoria's girlhood diary and letters make Victoria's early life particularly vivid reading. Also fascinating is Victoria's relationship with her government, and her tendency to cling to the current prime minister and despise the Opposition, whoever they might be.
The enigmatic Prince Albert, and his evolving relationship with Victoria, is presented well. Strachey makes some startling suggestions about what Britain might have turned into, had Albert lived longer (answer: Prussia).
This book is elegantly written, and free of the psychobabble one might expect from a more modern book.
The book is not boring. Although Victoria is always proper, there is plenty of adultery and dysfunctional family behavior among her many adult children.
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed book, but a little dry - informative Sept. 30 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed this detailed book about Queen Victoria's life. It had a lot of detail, but the writing style was a bit dry and old-fashioned (the book was written a while ago). It also didn't have as much detail of her life after Prince Albert died, which was unfortunate. It was sympathetic to her and generally very informative. I would recommend this book highly to people seeking to learn more about Queen Victoria, but not to someone seeking "light reading" as it is a bit hard to read due to the older writing style.
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