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We Two: Victoria and Albert


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About the Author

Gillian Gill, who holds a PhD in modern French literature from Cambridge University, has taught at Northeastern, Wellesley, Yale, and Harvard. She is the author of Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale, Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries, and Mary Baker Eddy. She lives in suburban Boston.


Far from mythologizing her legendary subjects, Gill (Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Florence Nightingale) views the marriage of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg as a modern historian. Outwardly, Victoria and Albert diligently presented the world with a portrait of blissful domesticity (and inflexible morality) that has become synonymous with the age, but their lives were far from perfect. Albert, a minor German prince, was not well received and rarely appreciated in his adopted country. Victoria, proud queen regnant in a fiercely misogynistic era, found herself caught between the realities of her paramount rank and her perceived (and much dreaded) duty to bear children and defer to her husband as lord and master. In attempting to chronicle the relationship of these two, Gill is hardly passing over untrodden ground: readers familiar with Victoria's and Albert's lives will probably not find much revelatory material in her treatment. They will find, however, a frank and intimate discussion of the royal marriage that is addictively readable; no doubt the famously proper queen would not be amused. Recommended for all readers. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/09.]-Tessa L.H. Minchew, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

According to Gill (Nightingales), the age that has been labeled Victorian was, in its origins, Albertian. Prince Albert was the chaste scion of a family of ambitious, debt-ridden, sexually corrupt misogynists, and his holy war of moral strictness made him appear straitlaced, judgmental and sanctimonious. In marrying Victoria, says Gill, Albert planned to take the reins of British power, though parliamentary rules didn't allow him to be king. Gill paints a portrait of this marriage as a "work in progress," in which the balance of power shifted continually between queen and consort, but Victoria's repeated pregnancies caused a dramatic shift in Albert's favor: he joined her meetings with ministers, and met or corresponded with the most powerful men in England and abroad. His great accomplishment was keeping Great Britain out of the American Civil War; he also served a stint as chancellor of Cambridge, bringing the university into the modern world. Despite their constant battle for dominance, Victoria was always madly in love while Albert was pleased to be adored. A lively, perceptive, impressively researched biography of what Gill terms "a forerunner of today's power couple." 16 pages of color illus.; b&w illus. throughout. (May 19) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Gillian Gill has written a superbly accessible account of the marriage of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg. She makes us understand that it was a union constantly pulled between two contradictory imperatives: the need for the Queen to be supreme head of state and Albert her subject, and the requirement that the nineteenth-century wife should be her husband's subordinate in every way. Gill grippingly recounts the tensions and negotiations between Victoria and Albert, both in politics and in intimate and domestic life, as they tried to reconcile this contradiction. She is particularly good on the couple's later life and their relationships with their many children. Her book is the story not just of a marriage and a family but also of the way in which Victoria appeared to grant Albert precedence but ultimately came to control the relationship. After Albert's early death Victoria set about creating an enduring legend of her marriage and inevitably emerged as both heroine and victor. Gill skillfully shows exactly how she did it."--Stella Tillyard, author of A Royal Affair and The Aristocrats "Every marriage is a balancing act. In this absorbing book, Gillian Gill shows how the royal couple counterpoised their partnership--and their passion--for twenty-one years while bearing the weight of the world on their shoulders."--Daniel Mark Epstein, author of The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage

"Gillian Gill's double biography, We Two, is intimate and delicious. Gill has a gift for finding the telling details which bring the royal couple to life, and she has created a fascinating study of a woman negotiating her supreme power in a male-dominated society and a traditional marriage. The push and pull between Albert, who is a complicated mixture of rigidity and softness, and Victoria, reluctant mother of nine and natural sovereign, makes a great story."--Susan Quinn, author of Marie Curie: A Life "This is a more compassionate look into the lives of Victoria and Albert, in which they become people to whom we can relate--the stuffed shirts get sent to the laundry and a much softer fabric is returned!"--Anne Perry, author of the series of Victorian mysteries "Gill's spirited reconstruction of Queen Victoria's three-act drama of a life--as teen-age ruler, partner to her ambitious consort Prince Albert, and queen in her own right after his death--enjoins us to rethink the meaning of the word "Victorian," too long a synonym for moral stuffiness. Perhaps now, with Gill's timely book, we can revalue this much-maligned term to let it reflect Victoria's courage in managing her long reign at a time when there were few opportunities for women of any rank, let alone for royals. A thought-provoking look at an era starting to grapple with issues that shed light on recent history."--Carolyn Burke, author of Lee Miller, A Life "What a whale of a wonderful read this is! Queen Victoria and Prince Albert jump forward from these pages in all their full, complex humanity--she, the besotted, emotional wife; and he, the reserved, cool, moralizing spouse. We Two shares a passionate, often frustrating relationship, one fraught with unconscious rivalries. Gillian Gill tells us the full story of a royal marriage that was to have profound effects upon European history--and she does so in a compelling, thoroughly engrossing way."--Maggie Scarf, author of September Songs

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