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Jean Plaidy, one of the preeminent authors of historical fiction for most of the twentieth century, is the pen name of the prolific English author Eleanor Hibbert, also known as Victoria Holt. Jean Plaidy's novels had sold more than 14 million copies worldwide by the time of her death in 1993.
In this third novel in her new series on the queens of England, Plaidy, indefatigable romancer of Europe's royal lines, arrives at the times of Queen Victoria. The first-person narration of Victoria's life and loves, taking her from plump, pouting girlhood to the unamused ``grandmother of Europe,'' unfolds replete with familiar incidents and anecdotes of her 64-year reign. The cast of male supporters is large: the dominating consort, Prince Albert; the reprobate heir, ``Bertie,'' who could never please his royal parents; the men on whom she dependedministers like Disraeli and Gladstone, servants like Scotsman John Brown. For young or unsophisticated readers, this is an uncomplicated introduction to Victoria's many roles. Others will find it overlong, tiresome in its primer-style narration, and lacking the sparkle of Plaidy's romances. February 17
Plaidy's latest saga of royalty gives her view of Victoria, who became queen of England in 1837 at the age of 18. In Plaidy's novel, she was a willful girl suddenly freed from the captivity of a too-ambitious mother; she describes herself as ``a woman who must be dominated by men.'' There were five in her life of importance to her: her mother's brother, two of her prime ministers, her Scottish servant, John Brown, and her beloved husband, Albert. Once she gave her friendship, she remained steadfastly loyal. But ``as my affections were fierce so were my dislikes.'' She was a woman ruled by her emotions and was fortunate in the statesmen surrounding her. Plaidy fans know they can rely on her for an absorbing tale. Andrea Lee Shuey, Dallas P.L.
"Plaidy excels at blending history with romance and drama." --New York Times