A Magnificent Obsession

A Magnificent Obsession

Victoria, Albert, and the Death That Changed the British Monarchy

Book - 2012
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As she did in her critically acclaimed The Last Days of the Romanovs , Helen Rappaport brings a compelling documentary feel to the story of this royal marriage and of the queen's obsessive love for her husband - a story that began as fairy tale and ended in tragedy.

After the untimely death of Prince Albert, the queen and her nation were plunged into a state of grief so profound that this one event would dramatically alter the shape of the British monarchy. For Britain had not just lost a prince: during his twenty year marriage to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert had increasingly performed the function of King in all but name. The outpouring of grief after Albert's death was so extreme, that its like would not be seen again until the death of Princess Diana136 years later.

Drawing on many letters, diaries and memoirs from the Royal Archives and other neglected sources, as well as the newspapers of the day, Rappaport offers a new perspective on this compelling historical psychodrama -- the crucial final months of the prince's life and the first long, dark ten years of the Queen's retreat from public view. She draws a portrait of a queen obsessed with her living husband and - after his death - with his enduring place in history. Magnificent Obsession will also throw new light on the true nature of the prince's chronic physical condition, overturning for good the 150-year old myth that he died of typhoid fever.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2012.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
Copyright Date: ©2011
ISBN: 9780312621056
Branch Call Number: 941.0810922 RAP
Characteristics: xvi, 336 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm


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Nov 12, 2012

Having read and enjoyed Helen Rapport's book on the demise of Tsar Nicholas and his family The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg, I was anxious to get my hands on this. I was a little worried to find blurbs on the back from People Magazine, Charles Spencer (Diana, Princess of Wales' unpredictable brother), and Alison Weir, but I needn't have worried. This book is well-written and carefully researched.

The relationship between Queen Victoria and her beloved consort Prince Albert is hardly a new topic, but Rappaport dedicates the first half of her book on the weeks leading up to Albert's untimely death in 1861, while the second half covers the following decade, during which Victoria retreated almost entirely from public life, much to the concern and exasperation of her family, government, and subjects. This is an interesting and well-researched look into the consequences of Albert's death and its impact on the Royal Family, Great Britain as a whole, and the mourning industry in particular.

Rappaport treats the Queen's unremitting sorrow with just enough sympathy that we may not quite feel like strangling Victoria by the end, but we will have even more sympathy for Victoria's children (especially her daughters), her beleaguered courtiers and Albert himself. She includes an appendix on modern medicine's attempt to identify the illness that killed the Consort off.

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