Queen Victoria’s Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise
Author: Lucinda Hawksley;
Narrator: Jennifer M. Dixon;
Publisher: Tantor Audio (2018);
Rating: (4 / 5).
Queen Victoria had nine children (who all looked exactly alike, btw) between 1841 and 1857, although she was frightened of childbirth and didn’t like children. And she wasn’t a very good mother… Go figure.
This is an interesting and well-written biography of Princess Louise, the sixth child and fourth daughter born to Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert. Louise was an artist, although her family didn’t always take her seriously in that respect. She fought for independence from her tyrannical mother and for more equality for women, while still performing many of the state duties of a royal princess. She was definitely the least “royal” of her family, in the way she interacted with people of all classes and was easy to talk to. The book doesn’t skip over the rough parts of her personality, either; Louise had a fiery temper and little patience at times.
She also had quite an appetite for love, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, based on her upbringing. Her marriage was not a love match, and in fact, her husband was probably gay. They spent a lot of time apart, and Louise was rumored to have had several serious affairs, and even a child born out of wedlock.
The reason for the “mysterious” part of the title is that many of the first-hand accounts of the family’s life were purged by Beatrice, the youngest princess, after the queen’s death. Letters and documents related to Louise were very difficult to find, and some conjecture is necessary. But Hawksley makes sure to note when that was the case, and the amount and quality of the research behind the known facts are quite amazing.
The book is organized well and is mostly chronological. Even listening to the audiobook, I didn’t have a difficult time with the many names and titles of the royals, aristocrats, artists, and servants mentioned throughout. Jennifer M. Dixon does an outstanding job with the narration of the audiobook.
The book will interest anyone who wants to learn more about the royal family in general, and especially about Victoria’s children. Louise was definitely a woman ahead of her time.