We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals

Written by:
Gillian Gill
Narrated by:
Rosalyn Landor

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
May 2009
18 hours 20 minutes

It was the most influential marriage of the nineteenth century–and one of history’ s most enduring love stories. Traditional biographies tell us that Queen Victoria inherited the throne as a naïve teenager, when the British Empire was at the height of its power, and seemed doomed to find failure as a monarch and misery as a woman until she married her German cousin Albert and accepted him as her lord and master. Now renowned chronicler Gillian Gill turns this familiar story on its head, revealing a strong, feisty queen and a brilliant, fragile prince working together to build a family based on support, trust, and fidelity, qualities neither had seen much of as children. The love affair that emerges is far more captivating, complex, and relevant than that depicted in any previous account.

The epic relationship began poorly. The cousins first met as teenagers for a few brief, awkward, chaperoned weeks in 1836. At seventeen, charming rather than beautiful, Victoria already “showed signs of wanting her own way.” Albert, the boy who had been groomed for her since birth, was chubby, self-absorbed, and showed no interest in girls, let alone this princess. So when they met again in 1839 as queen and presumed prince-consort-to-be, neither had particularly high hopes. But the queen was delighted to discover a grown man, refined, accomplished, and whiskered. “Albert is beautiful!” Victoria wrote, and she proposed just three days later.

As Gill reveals, Victoria and Albert entered their marriage longing for intimate companionship, yet each was determined to be the ruler. This dynamic would continue through the years–each spouse, headstrong and impassioned, eager to lead the marriage on his or her own terms. For two decades, Victoria and Albert engaged in a very public contest for dominance. Against all odds, the marriage succeeded, but it was always a work in progress. And in the end, it was Albert’s early death that set the Queen free to create the myth of her marriage as a peaceful idyll and her husband as Galahad, pure and perfect.

As Gill shows, the marriage of Victoria and Albert was great not because it was perfect but because it was passionate and complicated. Wonderfully nuanced, surprising, often acerbic–and informed by revealing excerpts from the pair’s journals and letters–We Two is a revolutionary portrait of a queen and her prince, a fascinating modern perspective on a couple who have become a legend.
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Ami Johnson

I'm generally not a fan of the Victorian era, and though I love a good biography, especially one dealing with English/British history, my main interest lies in Medieval England and the Plantagenet dynasty. I ventured beyond my usual period after seeing the film 'Young Victoria' and becoming quite smitten with the love story portrayed between Albert and Victoria and wondering just how much of that story was true. As it turns out, a fair bit! I quite loved this book! It begins with general backgrounds on both Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, but becomes totally engrossing once the story begins to unfold in the words of Albert and Victoria themselves, via letters and journal entries. Never have I felt so acutely that I actually know the subjects! Victoria especially came to life for me. She was very clearly a woman with a most passionate nature, which she channelled almost exclusively into Albert. So much so that she had little energy left for anyone, or anything, else. I find it a terrible shame that her personal letters and journal were so heavily censored by her daughter Beatrice following her death. But I digress... I found this book to contain just the right amount of history. It's a book about Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, and little time is spent on Victoria's life following Alberts death, or on the lives of their children. This is their story, and I think it's brilliantly told. The narrator does a fine job. I'm quite sensitive to bad narration, and it will render a book unlistenable if the narration stands out, if words are mispronounced, etc. I noticed the story, not the reader, which is the highest praise I can give an audiobook. If you're interested in biographies, British history, or just a good old fashioned love story, you'll enjoy this book. I can't say I've come away with a greater fondness for Victoria, in fact there are many aspects to her personality I find positively repugnant, but I've certainly gained an appreciation for her most passionate nature. Albert, on the other hand, I quite like. Knowing little about him prior to this book, I learned a great deal, and have developed genuine respect and affection for him. I highly recommend this book!

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