"Early in the morning of June 20, 1837, the seventy-two-year-old king of Great Britain was pronounced dead....only a few hours after William's last breath, his doctor, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury and a few of other government officials, climbed into a carriage and hurried to Kensington Palace, twenty miles away. The delegation arrived just after six in the morning, demanded entry, and told the sleepy servant who opened the door to awaken Princess Victoria immediately."This is the opening of the biography of "Queen Victoria and the British Empire" written by Nancy Whitelaw. With a very clear and vivid description, the writer has taken readers back to the time over a hundred years ago. Nancy Whitelaw describes the life of Queen Victoria from the age eighteen till her death at age eighty-two. Reading this book, readers will be attracted to its fine writing and a touching love story.
Nancy Whitelaw is known for her biographies particularly targeted on young adult readers. Before she became a biography writer, she was a teacher in United States. Her past experience of teaching makes her writing easy to read and interesting to young readers. Teenagers will probably not get bored reading this history book.
However, good writhing is not the only reason that this book is wonderful. The other reason is its love story between Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. This love enabled Victoria switching her role from a solemn powerful queen to an obedient wife and to a somewhat negligent mother of nine children.
As the great queen of British empire, Victoria experienced changes in English politics and the expansion of her country. She also gave her assent to improve ordinary people's life in Britain. During her regime, British empire was the most powerful country in the world.
Behind those successes, her marriage played an significant role in her regime. In European countries during that time, there was a tradition of intermarriage; the marriage between royal families was not always for love but for political necessity. However, when Victoria proposed to her Germen cousin Albert, she was not only doing good for politics but also in love with her future husband.
The Queen was known for her domineering behaviors; steadily and firmly influenced by her husband, Queen Victoria's changed her attitude. There is an interesting detail in Chapter Five showing how she condescended to compromise with her husband. Once, they had a quarrel, Albert locked himself in his study room. Victoria came and pounded on the door, Albert asked, "Who is there?" She answered: "The Queen." There was no response. Time after time, finally, the Queen lowered her head and answered : "Your wife." Then, the door opened and this royal couple reconciled. I like the way Queen Vitoria treated her husband. By saying "your wife", she still remained the identity of the Queen, but it showed her understanding and respect to her husband.
On the opposite of her adaptable way to her husband, Victoria showed her contradictory attitude towards raising children . On the one hand, she spoke frankly when first baby was born:" I have no tender for them...an ugly baby is a very nasty object...." She even became frustrated after she gave the birth to third child. On the other hand, Victoria set out an ambitious curriculum for her children in order to train them taking royal responsibilities. Gradually, this royal family grew to nine. Being a queen, a wife, and a mother, very few women in history could handle these three in one but Queen Victoria did it more or less successfully.
Along with Queen Victoria, there is a man who is worthy of respect: Prince Albert---Victoria's husband. Prince Albert fully supported Victoria's royal duties and gently coped with her tantrum helping her to be more fair. He had a positive influence over her governing. Together, they improved the lives of ordinary Britains. Prince Albert contributed his talent to Britain even though he did not have an official title from the British parliament before his death. This great marriage was based on understanding, support and love. Just like the song says in the movie "The Young Victoria" :"You took my life and made it beautifulSo you dared to let me shineEven walk a step behindWillingly you give yourself to meKnowing who I was born to beOnly you know howTo hear me through the silenceYou reach a part of me that no one else can seeForever true there's only me and only youOnly me and you"I became involved in the history of Queen Victoria only because I once watched the movie The Young Victoria. it is a very touching movie which encouraged me to dig deeper into Victoria's unusual life. Then I have an epiphany-the power of love. It is this great love that leads Victoria overcoming the difficulties and becomes increasingly strong. it is a pleasure to read a fine writing which inspires readers. It is also entertaining to learn history through a love story, so I give it eight out of ten. I highly recommend this wonderful book.
Bibliography: Whitelaw, Nancy Queen Victoria and the British Empire Greensboro, North Carolina: Morgan Reynolds Publishing, Inc. 2005