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  • Katina, Area Librarian

Victoria: The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen by Helen Rappaport

Most of us picture Queen Victoria as an aging monarch, dressed in black, donning her tiny mourning crown. But she wasn’t always so.

Queen Victoria began her reign as a vibrant, strong-willed teenager.

It’s this Queen Victoria who is portrayed in the PBS Masterpiece production Victoria, or as described in another way, it’s “the girl behind the queen.”

Series viewers have lately gotten snippets – trailers and teasers – of Season 2 of Victoria. (Season 1 is available from the library.) But as of yet, no new episodes. Season 2 is scheduled to premiere on January 14.

To tide one over, there’s Victoria: The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen: Official Companion to the Masterpiece Presentation.

Here, historian and author Helen Rappaport illuminates the central figures in Victoria’s life, including her family, her court, and her household staff, those we meet in Victoria’s first season. In short chapters, Rappaport packs much information on Victoria, those around her, and England during Victorian’s initial time as queen, drawing extensively from primary sources, including the Queen’s own extensive journals – she was an avid diarist. Rappaport also expands on situations and locations introduced in the series, providing historical context and giving a sense of what life was like for some of the Queen’s richest and poorest subjects.

Interspersed throughout are photographs from the first season of the television series, as well as reproductions of some of Victoria’s letters and journal entries. Later sections of the book include behind-the-scene photos and information, such as casting, costuming, and creating the set (no, Victoria isn’t filmed at Buckingham Palace, but in Yorkshire).

In short, for fans of Victoria, and to some extent, for readers of history, this book is a good reference and a glimpse at the woman who gave her name to one of the most productive ages in history.

Victoria: The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen: Official Companion to the Masterpiece Presentation is available from your library.

- Katina, Area Librarian

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