Book Review: Serving Victoria


  Title:  Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household

Author:  Kate Hubbard


Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing date:  2012

Themes: Victorian Era,  Queen Victoria,  servants

Verdict: Borrow it



My thoughts

This is going to be first review  of several books I want to read on the Victorian era. In Serving Victoria we get a more intimate look at the men and women who served under the reign of Queen Victoria.  From the early years of  Victoria’s reign  to her death 63 years later. One of things that I enjoyed  about this book was that it was made up of letter and diaries from various servants that served under the Queen.  I like that we get to see Victoria reign through the eyes of those who actually  lived in that time.

I like how insightful that this book is.  I can only speak for myself but sometimes I have dreams of being a lady-in-waiting and being at court.  This book brought homes some realities of court life and serving the Queen. Like if you were brought into service of the Queen you were often away from your family months on end.  Some of these women had husbands and children. And if you wanted to visit your family you had to get permission from the Queen  who sometimes would not give it. .  You also had to get permission to marry as well from the from the Queen.  This became difficult after the death of Prince Albert,   Victoria wanted her close servants by  her side. She had grown to dislike married couples or people wanting to get married. She seemed to feel that their duty was solely to her.  I also read that people under Victoria’s service were often overworked and this affected their health.

I also found myself getting attached to  some of the staff featured in this book.  I found Henry Ponsonby a really character.  He married one of the Queen’s ladies,  he also worked to becoming her private secretary.  Then there was James Reid who was Victoria private  Physician.   He was bachelor for a long time- serving the Queen.  But eventually married,  much to the disapproval of Victoria,  but ended having three children.  He was also with Victoria on her death bed.

I think that there was a lot of good things to this book,   but there was also some bad as well.  When I first picked up this book,   It was different then I thought it was just going based on the title.  I thought that the book might go more in-depth when it came to staff.  I also though there would be more history on the working class of Victorian England.  Instead it seemed like we got more Victoria- just told in perspective of those who served her.  Which Is fine,  but I think that title needs to reflect this.

I think that for those who are familiar with Victoria reign I don’t think that this book offers up anything new as far as her reign.  There was also a lot of filter as well, stuff that probably didn’t need or should have been there.

I thought the grammar in this was atrocious. It took me a minute to read this book.  I am not usually one to complain about grammar  or someone writing style,  but this was to much for me to ignore. I had a hard time reading this due to the punctuation.  I think all the quotes from the diaries and journals needed to separate or even italicized.  She had quotation marks around them,  but that was random, because some of the quotation marks were missing throughout the book.

She also made abbreviations throughout the book which is fine,  but it would have been nice if she mentioned and had some page where she deciphered  these abbreviation because some of them were hard to figure out.  And the way she used them was slightly annoying.   In one sentence she would say “Her Majesty” then in the next line she would just have a Q?  (I guess that is for Queen).

Again I don’t think this is a bad book,  I did like It in some ways. I would probably recommend this, but I would caution that utilize your library for this one.