Victoria: The Woman Who Made the Modern World by Julia Baird (HarperCollins Publishers)
Victoria is a lively and meticulously researched book that draws readers into the remarkable world of Queen Victoria. Julia Baird leads us to appreciate the many facets of Queen Victoria’s roles — as a young girl struggling for independence, as a young queen determined to take make her mark as monarch, as a devoted wife who worked in partnership with her husband, Albert, and as a dedicated mother to her nine children. Where standard histories of the monarch have minimised the importance of womanhood, wifehood and motherhood to her remarkable reign, Baird places gender at the core of the book.
Readers are treated to engaging analysis of the myriad ways Victoria fought against those who would underestimate her simply because she was a woman. Her tenacity and spirit emerge from each page of the book, as Baird draws expertly from Victoria’s personal diaries, commentary from government officials, and notes by her doctors and advisors, to create an intimate history of one of the world’s most influential women. We read about Victoria’s acute awareness of how repeated pregnancies and childbirth affected her work as monarch, alongside her deep concern to influence foreign and domestic political events. Victoria is a fine book that draws on fresh material to present a new vision of this towering figure.