Author(s): Deborah Cadbury
A captivating exploration of the role in which Queen Victoria exerted most international power and influence: her role as matchmaking grandmother
I have always been somewhat interested in 19th-early 20th century history so when I spied this nice hardback for the princely sum of $29.99 I grabbed it. Early in Queen Victoria's reign, when she had Prince Albert at her side, they devised a plan that would see the United Kingdom and Germany allied as constitutional monarchies, central in a peaceful Europe. The glue that would bring about this would be their own children and grandchildren, who would marry into the established royal families and bring about a family connection. As we all now know, this was a policy, if visionary, proved to be spectacularly unsuccessful. The first problem was the premature death of Albert in 1861 but, if anything, this made Victoria and her eldest daughter Vicki even more determined to realise Albert's dream. Vicki started things rolling when she married Fredrick, the crown prince of Germany. Vicki & Fredrick shared the dream but it all fell apart when Fredrick died within months of becoming Kaiser and the crown went to their son Wilhelm. Though Wilhelm was devoted to his family he had had a difficult upbringing and came more under the influence of his grandfather and the chancellor Bismark. The rest is history. There were plenty of other marriages that were planned for political ends by the Queen and there were some that were initiated by the political ambitions of others. Particularity of note were the marriages of sisters, Alex & Ella of Hesse, Queen Victoria's granddaughters who married into the Russian Royal family. We all now know how badly that turned out. This book tracks the story of these marriages, and others, with plenty of quotes from letters that were sent from one party to the other. I really enjoyed it and it gave me a new insight into the convoluted politics of the time. Peter
Wonderfully compelling and packed with new material - a gripping story beautifully told -- Jane Ridley Cadbury is an adroit storyteller. Her lively, colourfully written book, Queen Victoria's Matchmaking, recounts the courtships and marriages of a handful of the Queen's grandchildren ... a panoramic family saga, its players by turns pragmatic and romantic, wilful, dutiful, misguided and, occasionally, tragic ... Cadbury writes with verve -- Matthew Dennison * Daily Telegraph * [An] absorbing book ... The fall of the Romanovs occupies the superb last pages of Cadbury's book ... Dynastic mergers, we may deduce from Deborah Cadbury's account, offer no defence against the whims of history. This catastrophe-laced slice of royal history offers a ripping read -- Miranda Seymour * Observer * Engrossing ... Cadbury engagingly presents [Queen Victoria] as a mesmerising Mrs Bennet, summoning her children and then her grandchildren to Balmoral ... The stories of [Queen Victoria's] descendants are mesmerising and often stranger than fiction ... From the pen of a writer of skill and style, this surprising narrative leaves you wanting more -- Paula Byrne * The Times * A skilfully woven account -- Stephan Halliday * Times Higher Education Supplement * Cadbury's account of Victoria's attempts to bend her unruly grandchildren to her matrimonial will is the stuff of melodrama ... covered with verve and insight by Deborah Cadbury in her new history -- Daisy Goodwin * Sunday Times * An entertaining, well-written and well-conceived book ... perceptive and revealing in the light it throws on the mind and attitudes of Victoria. Cadbury has consulted sources in numerous archives, including the Royal Archives at Windsor, and has chosen her quotations with skill * Literary Review * In this enjoyable story for fans of royal machinations, Cadbury ably shows not just the successes, but also the damage inflicted by Victoria's single-mindedness. An instructive European history * Kirkus * Impeccably researched, and written with all the brio and understanding of a major historical novel, Princes at War takes us intimately and even shockingly into the human dynamics of a barely functional family at the time of our greatest peril -- Praise for 'Princes at War', David Kynaston, author of 'Austerity Britain' One of the most riveting tales of the nonfiction season, rendered with novelistic drama but deliberate detachment. The inner tensions of the palace during wartime and the inner tensions of a remarkable family make for one of the best, and ultimately most uplifting, stories of the war years -- Praise for 'Princes at War' * Boston Globe * A moving and deeply researched account ... Her story is gripping, illuminating and generous in its recognition of the central, dramatic role of the monarchy in Britain's finest years -- Praise for 'Princes at War', William Shawcross Deborah Cadbury combines the family drama against the backdrop of the war with terrific narrative verve -- Praise for 'Princes at War', Daisy Goodwin * The Times * Fascinating, fresh insights into a story of four brothers -- Praise for 'Princes at War', Stephen Halliday * Times Higher Education Supplement *
Deborah Cadbury is the author of eight acclaimed books including Chocolate Wars, The Dinosaur Hunters, The Lost King of France, The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, for which her accompanying BBC series received a BAFTA nomination, and Princes at War. Before turning to writing full time she worked for thirty years as a BBC TV producer and executive producer and has won numerous international awards including an Emmy. She lives in London.