Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household

Kate Hubbard, Author
Kate Hubbard. Harper, $29.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-226991-1
Reviewed on: 02/18/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Hardcover - 417 pages - 978-0-7011-8368-4
Open Ebook - 417 pages - 978-1-4090-2785-0
Paperback - 417 pages - 978-0-06-226992-8
Hardcover - 417 pages - 978-0-09-953223-1
Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-06-226993-5
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Drawing on letters and diaries, Hubbard (Queen Victoria) follows six courtiers who served Queen Victoria during her 63-year reign as they chafe under the constraints of court life, dine and travel with the Queen, and even indulge in the occasional joke at her expense. Kindly Sarah Lyttelton, supervisor of the nursery, witnessed a monarch who compulsively controlled those around her and even saw children as an impediment to her life with Prince Albert. Beautiful, intelligent Charlotte Canning, lady of the bedchamber and an accomplished watercolorist whose work Victoria appropriated for her souvenir albums, found court life a welcome respite from her humiliating marriage. Spirited feminist Mary Ponsonby, maid-of-honor, found the Victorian court to be “ludicrously bourgeois and exceedingly dull,” while her modest husband Henry masterfully played the Queen’s complex and contradictory character to his advantage. Later in life, Victoria was outraged when her easygoing, gregarious doctor, James Reid, decided to marry; and sympathetic chaplain Randall Davidson also angered her when he counseled against publication of her inappropriate memoir of her deceased servant, John Brown. Although hardly controversial, this is an engrossing and fresh view of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and day-to-day life at the Victorian court. 16 pages of illus. and photos. Agent: Georgia Garrett, Rogers, Coleridge & White. (U.K.) (May)
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