New Views on the Monarchy | History Reviews, December 2018

A thorough read for all interested in the Tudor era, the Reformation, and the British monarchy; royal enthusiasts will find much to enjoy in Hardman’s portrait of the woman behind the crown; royal enthusiasts will find much to enjoy in Hardman’s portrait of the woman behind the crown

Borman, Tracy. Henry VIII: And the Men Who Made Him. Atlantic Monthly. Jan. 2019. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780802128430. $30. BIOG
Using manuscripts and other primary materials, historian Borman (Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant) offers a new twist on the life of Henry VIII, choosing here to focus on how his reign and reputation were affected by the men who surrounded and advised him throughout his adulthood and long tenure as king, including councilors Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, scholars and intellectuals Erasmus and Sir Thomas More, and aristocrats such as the Dukes of Buckingham and Norfolk. Also mentioned are lesser-known figures, including servants, barbers, doctors, and Henry’s court jester Will Sommers. In chronicling Henry’s career against the backdrop of the rise and fall of these relationships, Borman emphasizes certain key themes: Henry’s character, motivations, and insecurities; the evolution of his image; and the legacy he left to his survivors. What emerges is a portrait of a contradictory man: loyal and tender yet also paranoid and cruel. The story of his celebrated love affairs is not ignored, nor is his schism with Roman Catholicism.
VERDICT A thorough read for all interested in the Tudor era, the Reformation, and the British monarchy.—Marie M. Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ

Hardman, Robert. Queen of the World: Elizabeth II: Sovereign and Stateswoman. Pegasus. Jan. 2019. 368p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781643130026. $35. BIOG
A monarch who has reigned for over half a century is bound to have made an indelible mark on global affairs, and that is the contention at the heart of Hardman’s (Her Majesty: The Court of Queen Elizabeth II) intimate, detailed look at Elizabeth II’s role in British foreign relations. Recounting the most memorable of the queen’s visits to nations outside the UK, as well as state visits she’s hosted for numerous world leaders, ­Hardman shows how the queen has served as Britain’s most effective “export;” a figure able to transcend politics and preserve harmony in international relationships, even when governments fail to see eye to eye, gracefully handling the transition from Britain’s historical empire to its modern Commonwealth of Nations, for which she serves as both official head and enthusiastic champion. Drawing on the anecdotes of former private secretaries, diplomats, and heads of state, Hardman provides behind-the-scenes glimpses into Elizabeth’s comprehensive grasp of international relations, attention to detail, and steely determination to maintain a respectful, cooperative spirit among her “family” of nations.
VERDICT Royal enthusiasts will find much to enjoy in Hardman’s portrait of the woman behind the crown.—Sara Shreve, Newton, KS

redstar Worsley, Lucy. Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2019. 432p. illus. notes. index.
ISBN 9781250201423. $32.50; ebk. ISBN 9781250201430. BIOG
Historian Worsley (Jane Austen at Home: A Biography) presents a unique account of Queen Victoria, focusing on 24 of the most important days of her life using research based on correspondence as well as previously published books and articles. Among the days covered are Victoria’s birth at Kensington Palace in 1819, her ascension to the throne in 1837, her coronation in 1838, her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840, the Prince’s death in 1861, and Victoria’s death in 1901. In addition to providing insight on these specific events, Worsley gives historical background on Victoria’s family, including the betrothal of her son Edward VII to Alexandra of Denmark and the complex relationship between Victoria and her own mother, Princess Victoria. Worsley also looks closely at court etiquette, customs, and family dynamics, and reconsiders Victoria’s long-standing relationship with servant John Brown.
VERDICT Fans of biography and history, especially related to British history should find this fascinating reading. Those interested in Queen Victoria will find this to be a wonderful addition to the literature.—Lucy Heckman, St. John’s Univ. Lib., Queens, NY

LJ Reviews

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