My Victorian Summer: We Two by Gillian Gill and Armadale by Wilkie Collins + Reading Journal

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  • My Victorian Summer: We Two by Gillian Gill and Armadale by Wilkie Collins + Reading Journal

Note: I occasionally accept review copies from the publisher. Posts written from review copies are labeled. All opinions are my own. Posts may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for any purchased items.

I never intended that my first post for My Victorian Summer would come a full month after the inauguration of my project, but I’ve found that with summer weather, long books, and family in town, my blogging is becoming less of a priority than before. To my surprise, I’m okay with this. I may continue to leave things rather “hands off” for the next little while. Maybe I’ll get back into a blogging groove at some point, but for now, I’m living my life.

The two Victorian-esque books I have finished this month are completely different.

We Two: Victoria and Albert, Rulers, Partners, and Rivals by Gillian Gill is a non-fiction biography of the monarch and her husband. It was not, of course, written during the Victorian era, but I read it to get a sense of what made the Victorian Era a distinct era. I found the biography quite fascinating, even if the relationship between Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert was not quite as satisfyingly romantic as Hollywood made out in The Young Victoria. See review.

Armadale by Wilkie Collins, on the other hand, was a fantastic sensation novel from the 1860s, complete with dual and mistaken identities, poison, attempted murder, and above all superstition. While the almost-700-page novel seemed a little slow to begin, the convoluted plots and depth of characters made it a satisfying and delicious book to devour. See review.

I also share my current Reading Journal below.

Reading Journal (30 June)

I’m trying to let go of schedules a little bit more and just read what I want. I have so many Victorian reads on my radar I could just read Victorian for the rest of the year!

Recently Finished: The Audacity of Hope (audiobook, abridged) by Barack Obama

Recently Abandoned (for now): The Inferno by Dante, Hollander translation (I may have a post about this abandonment)

In Progress: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (for My Victorian Summer); Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (audiobook, for My Victorian Summer); Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang (for Orbis Terrarum/Asia); Nineteenth-Century Russian Reader (for Imperial Russia Classics Circuit); I Am A Cat by Natsume Soseki (my personal JLit Challenge); Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose (for my other book club)

On Deck: The Art of Victorian Fiction (essays for My Victorian Summer); Great Expectations (for My Victorian Summer); The Stranger and The Plague by Camus (the former for my Classics Reading Group); The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee (for the Spotlight Series); whatever other books as please my fancy.

Reviewed on June 30, 2010

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • It sounds like Gill’s biography would actually be more to my liking than the Young Victoria film, of which I am deeply wary – I just can’t get behind romanticizing the love story of a pair of rulers who oppressed so many people. I mean, India? The Opium Wars? Anyway, I read Gill’s biography of the Nightingale family, which was interesting and well-done, and it sounds like this one was, too.

    I should really read more Collins. Loved The Woman in White and The Moonstone; sounds like Armadale would be an excellent follow-up!
    .-= Emily´s last post on blog ..Moo Pak =-.

    • Emily, I am a romantic, so I admit I liked the movie’s story! I don’t know much about the politics and this book doesn’t go in to it. But it seems Albert had far more political influence than Elizabeth did and both of them were supposed to go through Parliament so would be interesting to see what influence they really had on, say, India or the Opium Wars. Certainly plenty, but not exclusive oppression rights….

      I really enjoyed Armadale and I’m excited to read more Collins!

  • I haven’t even started The Inferno yet for that read-along and I don’t think I am going to get to it. I have no reading motivation. I’m curious to see what you think of Camus. I read The Stranger last November and felt kind of “eh” about it.
    .-= Allie´s last post on blog ..Mono and Rejections =-.

    • Allie, I read The Stranger last year and was completely indifferent to it. This year I’m rereading it for a book club. Hoping discussion will help it sit better!

    • Aarti, See, I LOVED Miss Gwilt. Not as a person (I would not like to meet her) but I found her delightfully fascinating: her motives, her atttitudes, her way of expressing herself. I think that made the book so wonderful for me!

  • I’m so pleased that you enjoyed Armadale. I felt sure that you would. And I totally agree that Miss Gwilt makes the book. Yes, she’s wicked, but she’s so unapologetic about it–no excuses or self-justifications, just out and out selfishness. It’s oddly refreshing!

    • Teresa, thanks for your Classic Circ review last year — I think that’s what got me very excited about it…besides the fact that I am still just discovering Wilkie Collins. Such a great writer!

  • Can you believe I have NEVER read any Wilkie Collins?! Not even the famous Woman in White! The Gillian Gill book sounds intriguing, I may try to pick that up at some point. Thanks for the thorough review!

  • This was a great and informative read! I too am surprised by what Gill’s revealed, when I learned that Victoria and Albert’s was a great love (this was in the run-up to the film’s release) I was happy to have heard it, and it correlated with what I already knew. It seems I should read Gill’s book… And I didn’t know Barack Obama was the narrator of his books!

    • Charlie, which correlated with what you knew? That Victoria and Albert had a great love? Or that theirs was more a marriage of political convenience? I enjoyed seeing more of the truth, but I admit that I still like Hollywood’s portrayal quite a lot!

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