The biography is interesting, filled with salacious details and honestly, at times, appalling portraits of the nineteenth-century monarchy. It abounds with cruelty, bad feeling, and very little family warmth. Even Victoria herself is denuded of her rosy glow, and painted as somewhat shallow and power-hungry and Albert is a bit of a self-aggrandizing martyr. Although it matched with most of the details of the fairly recent film, The Young Victoria, the movie-version is certainly prettier than the biography version.
Recommended if you like historical detail, famous family drama, and seeing near-mythic figures made human.
"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy. I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And I have found that sitting in a place where you never sat before can be inspiring--I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen-house."The book is both funny and sad and beautiful. I have some issues with the resolution, but truly, I loved it.
Recommended if you like coming of age stories, writing about writing, vintage British-isms, oblique references to the Modernist movement of the early 20th century.
I will be writing a review soon of Margot Livesey's new novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, which is a retelling of Jane Eyre set in the 1950s and 60s in Scotland and Iceland. I considered adding it on here, but wanted room to do a more extensive review.
Right now, I am a bit between books. I have two that I picked up used: Wayne Caldwell's Cataloochee, which is a multi-generational saga set in the Cataloochee valley near Asheville, NC, a place I have visited many times; and Diana Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, but I haven't a strong idea of the story--just something about England and Gothic and old books. But, yesterday a friend forcefully recommended George R.R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series (a.k.a the Game of Thrones series), claiming that he likes them even better than Tolkien, which is utterly unthinkable to me. I haven't quite decided what kind of reading mood I am in, so I don't know what I will read first.
Let me know if you have read any of the books mentioned and what you think of them!