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I like servants, Queen Victoria, and mundane details of daily life, so I had high hopes for this book. Sadly, it lived up to none of them. Exhaustively researched and competently written, the book failed–for me–to inject any actual life into its account of “Life in the Royal Household.”

To be fair, I went into the book with incomplete information: I expected the book to be more about day-to-day life in the Queen’s house, in the manner of Judith Flanders’s wonderful Inside the Victorian Home, when in fact it traced the service of six members of Victoria’s household a.k.a. court: high-ranking servants, not scullery maids. (Scullery maids, of course, being infinitely more interesting.)

I stopped reading the book because I just couldn’t summon enough interest in its characters or events. Blame Victoria, who strived to create a court free from the scandal and intrigue of previous rulers and appears to have been largely successful. The Bedchamber Crisis would have been much more compelling had it involved sexual rather than political scandal, but that’s hardly Hubbard’s fault.

Amount read: Four chapters, or around 50 pages out of 360

Kate Hubbard, Serving Victoria

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