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Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne…

Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Anne Somerset

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1637112,648 (3.74)4
An assessment of the short twelve-year reign of Britain's last Stuart monarch recounts how she united England and Scotland as a sovereign state, offering additional insight into the military victories that laid the foundations for Britain's future naval and colonial supremacy.
Title:Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion
Authors:Anne Somerset
Info:London : HarperPress, 2012.
Collections:Your library
Tags:history, biography, 18th century, read 2017

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Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset (2012)


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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Without doubt a very thorough and scholarly work, but I found it hard going, especially towards the end. I felt the author relied too much on extensive quotations from letters and documents rather than attempting to create a flowing narrative, which is what the best biographers do. The characters didn't really come alive for me and there is very little sense of what life was like in Stuart England or the great flourishing in the arts that was taking place at the time. Even the melodramatic relationship between Anne and Sarah becomes tiresome after pages and pages of repetitive letters. I did learn a lot about Queen Anne however. ( )
  LuxVestra | Jan 26, 2019 |
A magnificent achievement. There was so much more to this Queen than the usual historical dismissal. ( )
  bhowell | Jul 12, 2015 |
My main agenda in picking up this book was to fill a gap in my knowledge and while it was worthwhile in that regard I can't pretend that I greatly enjoyed it. Part of the problem is that Anne's great virtues (endurance and determination) aren't necessarily the sort that make for a dynamic story, while at the same time the increasingly toxic personal politics that afflicted Anne's court make for generally painful reading after a certain point (John & Sarah Churchill do not come off looking very admirable). Call this a study of the time in Britain when politics went from the personal (or at least the religious) to the ideological. ( )
  Shrike58 | Sep 3, 2014 |
One of the finest biographies that I've read in quite a long time. My one quarrel (and it's a small one, and I hope it might be corrected in the paperback edition) is that the book does not include a supplementary glossary of major characters, the lack of which might be a problem for readers less familiar with this time period than I am. Some of the characters should be well known to most readers (the Queen herself, of course, and also John and Sarah Churchill); but others – including such major figures as Sidney Godolphin, Robert Harley (later the Earl of Oxford), and Viscount Bolingbroke – won't necessarily be familiar names or personalities to much of Somerset's audience, and lesser figures will pose greater difficulty. (For example, Somerset sometimes refers to Gilbert Burnet simply as the "Bishop of Salisbury," which may be confusing to a reader who is not familiar with this extraordinarily important figure in low-church Anglicanism.)

Somerset does much to rehabilitate Anne's standing among British monarchs – not that Anne was ever thought of as a "bad" queen, of course, but only that she has been so overshadowed by her Captain-General, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough and greatest general in English history. Additionally, Somerset provides a superb presentation of the Whig-versus-Tory politics and personalities of Queen Anne's reign – which is vital to an understanding of Gulliver's Travels and of Jonathan Swift's satire more generally, and which makes the appearance in this same year of Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion and Leo Damrosch's new biography of Swift a very welcome coincidence. ( )
1 vote CurrerBell | Dec 14, 2013 |
I won this is the Goodreads First Reads program. I was very pleased to win a copy as it was on my to read list, and I really enjoy Anne Somerset's books. She seems to have written a different perspective of Queen Anne than the Duchess of Marlborough, who was a close friend of Anne's until she became queen and they grew apart because of the Duchess' behavior. She wrote terrible things in her memoirs about the queen that Somerset often contradicts in her book. Somerset does not try to make Anne perfect, but appears to be more balanced than the Duchess of Marlborough. I look forward to reading the Duchess' memoirs to form my own opinion of them.

I really like Somerset's style of writing. She portrays the numerous facts in an engaging manner. I was excited to learn more about this period, which leads to the change of dynasty from Stuart to Hanoverian. I knew very little about the change in dynasty, and was interested to see Anne's role in and perspective of the change. I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to people interested in women rulers, or that period in history. ( )
  BittyCornwell | Nov 17, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Somerset concentrates as much on Anne’s relationship with Sarah Churchill as she needs to in order to sell books to a reading public who hoard and sleep and feed and know not the patience to endure long stretches of Parliamentary infighting. But that infighting – the raw and squalling beginnings of the systematized partisan mania that would afflict every British government thereafter – is the truly fascinating part of Anne’s reign, especially since although she bemoaned the fanatics among both Whigs and Tories, she could scheme and thunder with the worst of them. Somerset may flirt with questions about the nature of Anne’s passionate attachment to Sarah, but she’s the first biographer since Trevelyan to do proper, intelligent justice to Anne the politician. Every page of Queen Anne is seamlessly good reading, but those pages are the best.
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For Dad, with love The book is also dedicated to the memory of my husband, Matthew Carr. He was always the first person to be shown the typescript of my books and although he died before he could read it all, he delighted me with his enthusiasm for the sections he did see. It is one of many ways in which he is greatly missed.
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The opening weeks of the year 1665 were particularly cold, and the sub-zero temperatures had discouraged the King of England, Charles II, from writing to his sister Henrietta in France.
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