Farewell in Splendor: 9the Passing of Queen Victoria and Her Age

Jerrold M. Packard, Author Dutton Books $22.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-93730-2

After reigning as Britain's queen for 63 years, Victoria died at her palace on the Isle of Wight on January 22, 1901. In this highly readable account, Packard (Sons of Heaven) painstakingly details Victoria's last days, her funeral and the public mourning that followed. Although he expresses admiration for the queen's indomitable will, he views her as a self-indulgent and unforgiving woman. Victoria lived in seclusion for 40 years following the death of her husband, Albert. She deprived her eldest son, Bertie, heir to the throne, of any role in government, Packard argues, because Bertie could not live up to Albert's image. The deathbed scene, with Bertie and his sisters jockeying with Kaiser William of Germany (Victoria's favorite grandson) to be nearer their mother, comes vividly to life. Packard also provides biographical sketches of the Queen's relatives and attendants as well as a synopsis of political events of the time, including the Boer War. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC selection. (Jan.)