An utterly enjoyable account of Victoria’s familial relationships.



The Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces in England shares her unique access to the quotidian history of English royals to treat us to another delightful story from the inside.

Worsley (Jane Austen at Home, 2017, etc.) is helped in this instance by Victoria’s penchant for saving outfits she wore at important milestones, right down to the shoes, and the author provides significant insight into her attitude to the throne. At first, she was a headstrong young woman trying to break away from the influence of her mother and John Conroy. Her father’s friend and servant, Conroy devised a system that he and Victoria’s mother used to control all aspects of her life. It was a system designed to ensure their power when she ascended the throne, whether as regents or advisers. Luckily, Victoria was sufficiently headstrong to reject them both. As queen, she relied on Lord Melbourne, a father figure, for advice, and she exhibited her strong emotional intelligence. After her marriage to Albert, she fell under his orderly, dispassionate intellect; luckily, she retained the empathy that made her beloved. Still, he often infantilized her, downplaying her abilities. As a mother, Victoria came up short, as Worsley amply shows. She didn’t enjoy her children except that they made Albert happy. She was tyrannical and never nursed them, since that would have made her feel “like a cow or a dog.” Albert’s influence was reflected in her thinking that women were inferior to men and therefore had no right to vote. She held him up as the unattainable perfection that none of her children would ever attain. Her grief at Albert’s death and interminable mourning are legendary, but it also made her realize that no one could have mastery over her. John Brown caused no end of consternation, but it was he who brought her back to the people. She made few public appearances, but photographs and two books she wrote about Albert took the place of her presence.

An utterly enjoyable account of Victoria’s familial relationships.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20142-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?