The first part of this book covers the 42 years from her birth to the death of her husband Albert, Prince Consort, including her parents (her father Edward, Duke of Kent, who died when she was only eight months old), her coronation, the grossly-mismanaged Flora Hastings scandal, the wedding, the Great Exhibition, and her troubled relationship with the Prince of Wales, 'the disappointing heir'.
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After she is widowed, the treatment becomes less strictly chronological and more thematic, with chapters on her favourite prime minister Disraeli, her Highland servant John Brown, 'the royalty question' (discontent with the monarchy during the mid and late 1860s), her sons, daughters and grandchildren, and the triumphant jubilee celebrations of 1887 and 1897.
By skilful selection of quotations from her letters and diaries, and a wealth of detail, Hibbert captures her often contradictory personality - petulant, ill-tempered and selfish one moment, calm, wise and generous the next.
The review of this Book prepared by John Van der Kiste