The Victoria Letters – H. Rappaport/D. Goodwin

I’m a bit conflicted about this, to be honest.

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As can be told by the jacket design, this is the official companion to the good-but-not-amazing ITV series Victoria. It came out just as the first season ended and, being me and an avid fan of Victoria’s early life and her romance with Albert I instantly pre-ordered it, seduced by the title. I knew there were many publications collecting the Queen’s letters but I hoped this book, aiming as it is at a wider, non-academic audience, would condense them and make a careful selection. It does that – but does it a bit too much.

This should be called Excerpts from Victoria’s Journals with Quotations Taken From Her Letters: A Concise Guide for the Historical Illiterate. The letters are few and very shortened. The journal excerpts are more abundant, but still not very surprising – with perhaps an exception to the two curious references to future Portuguese monarchs and the occasional anecdote or fact. I didn’t know, for instance, that Albert was delivered by the same midwife that delivered Victoria three months earlier. Which makes the fangirl in me believe that it was FATE, OKAY?!

Anyway, the book’s main text by author Helen Rappaport is extremely informative to those who aren’t familiar with Victoria’s life. It’s a very good introduction but those of us who know a bit more finish reading it wishing it went a little further. Also, the way it ends feels rushed. It has a proper introduction, but it ends abruptly with a brief reference to a possible second season, which has since then been confirmed. The Behind the Scenes section is interesting, but it also ends aprubtly. It reads like “sets-costumes-hair-bam-bam-bam-done”. I like my non-fiction books to be fully rounded.

It is, however, a beautifully constructed book with plenty of photographs from the series and scans of 19th century prints. Again, I recommend it if you’re a Victorian era enthusiast or if you’re curious about learning more about Victoria’s early life. I also recommend it as a collection piece, as a companion piece, something to look good on the shelf. But it fails to go a bit further and the title is misleading.

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