Queen Victoria: Born to Succeed - Elizabeth Longford It was interesting to read about Queen Victoria. Lady Longford had access to the queen's private journals, so the tone of the book is generally sympathetic to the queen, though not sycophantic or necessarily flattering. Longford clears up some rumors or misunderstandings that have been perpetrated by other biographers.

Unfortunately, Longford's focus on using the queen's journals as her primary source materials means that the scope of the book is narrowed to what the queen wrote about. I learned more in just a few pages of reading "Monarch: The Life and Reign of Queen Elizabeth II" about the significance of Victoria's golden jubilee than I did in reading all of "QV". It's especially frustrating because Longford doesn't include much (if any) context for what the queen is commenting upon. For example, on page 462 she writes, "Meanwhile the Queen was glad when the Criminal Amendment Act of 1885 became law." She doesn't tell us what the provisions of the Criminal Amendment Act were, why it pleased the queen, nor how it relates to the prisoner she was discussing earlier in the paragraph.

Elsewhere she writes that the queen allowed Oscar Wilde into the chapel at Windsor. According to one of the source documents Longford used, Mr. Wilde "was most affected". However, we don't learn how he was affected, or what he wrote in The Telegraph as a result of the visit. Given Mr. Wilde's way with words, I would imagine it would be quite interesting to read his opinion.

Lady Longford uses the name or title of a royal personage that was in use at the time about which she is writing. So Queen Victoria's eldest daughter is Vicky, then The Princess Royal, then Empress Frederick of Prussia. Given the vast number of people in QV's family, it's nigh on impossible to keep them straight when their names keep changing. And she does not make it explicit that the names have changed. She writes about Disraeli, then mentions that he accepted a peerage, then starts writing about Lord Beaconsfield without making it explicit that Beaconsfield and Disraeli are the same person.

It seems clear that Lady Longford wrote this book for people who are already quite familiar with British history and royal lineages. I am not, so I found the book rather irritating and hard to follow. I also had the feeling I was supposed to be keeping notes throughout - on page 501 Longford writes, "When the princesses came up to kiss the Queen's hand and receive their mother's embrace, it was the Prince's favourite child whom she clasped longest." At that point, the Prince has been dead for over 200 pages, and I could no longer remember which of the princesses had been his favorite.

Bottom line: interesting, but not extremely well-written.