Deborah Cadbury’s Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages That Shaped Europe (2017)

victoria matchmaking

If you enjoy PBS as much as I do, chances are you’re also spending your Sunday nights watching Victoria. Even if you’re not following the show, if you like historical nonfiction with a hefty dose of fascinating interpersonal relationships, have I got a book for you! Not your typical Valentine’s Day read but full of romance nonetheless.

Deborah Cadbury transitioned to writing historical nonfiction after a long career as a BBC producer. Quite a few of her books have focused on royalty, though this one has a much broader focus and grander ambition.

At its heart is Queen Victoria in her later years and the various schemes she and her extended family concocted to marry off her grandchildren. Her overarching goal was one of balancing power and ensuring peace in Europe, and she firmly believed that marital alliances between her grandchildren scattered across the continent and their respective royal houses was the key to achieving this ambition. However, her interests were not entirely mercenary, as she also plotted to pair up those whom she felt were the most well-suited for each other. But as the old saying about the “best-laid plans of mice and men” acknowledges, nothing actually went according to plan. . . .

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Book Buzz: Therapeutic Gardening, Historical Mysteries, and Criminal Adoptions

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For August, we’re looking at a heartwarming tale rooted in a gardening class (pun intended!), a tantalizing new mystery series set in 1910s Calcutta, and the true crime story behind a novel I reviewed earlier this year.

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The Crown, Season 1

The Crown

If you have a Netflix account, it is probably old news that the streaming service’s original series The Crown, about the early reign of the United Kingdom’s Elizabeth II, is superb. But if you don’t have a Netflix account, you had no way to watch it until quite recently, when it was released on DVD.

English royalty has always been a popular subject for entertainment and has been the focus of several recently acclaimed shows, including Wolf Hall and Victoria. Though I have enjoyed the other shows mentioned, I’m not sure any other television show I have watched has delved into the complexities of imperial protocol and how one’s royal persona must overshadow any personal one quite like The Crown does.

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