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Bertie: A Life of Edward VII | [Jane Ridley]

Bertie: A Life of Edward VII

Entertaining and different, this is an enjoyable study of a flawed yet characterful Prince of Wales seen through the eyes of the women in his life. Edward Vll, who gave his name to the Edwardian Age and died in 1911, was King of England for the final 10 years of his life. He was 59 when at last he came to the throne. Known as Bertie, the eldest son of Victoria and Albert, he was bullied by both his parents.
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Publisher's Summary

Entertaining and different, this is an enjoyable study of a flawed yet characterful Prince of Wales seen through the eyes of the women in his life. Edward Vll, who gave his name to the Edwardian Age and died in 1911, was King of England for the final 10 years of his life. He was 59 when at last he came to the throne. Known as Bertie, the eldest son of Victoria and Albert, he was bullied by both his parents. Although Bertie was heir to the throne, Victoria refused to give him any proper responsibilities, as a result of which he spent his time eating, betting, and womanising.

Bertie's numerous mistresses included the society hostess Daisy Brook ('Babbling Brook'), Lillie Langtry and Alice Keppel. When Bertie finally became king, he did a good job, especially in foreign policy. This colourful book gives Bertie due credit, while painting a vivid portrait of the age in all its excess and eccentricity, hypocrisy and heartbreak.

©2012 Jane Ridley (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Robyn 06-01-13
    Robyn 06-01-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "cannot fault this audiobook"

    I hesitate to use the word 'perfect', but I really can't fault this audiobook. This biography is as good as any I have read: informative and entertaining from start to finish, painstakingly researched, and beautifully written. At the end, I almost felt I had known Bertie and experienced some of the claustrophobia of the court, counter-balanced by the freedom which came with money and position at the top of the social ladder. It is expertly read by Carole Boyd who has just the right voice for this genre. Her voices for the various characters, her facility with accents, and correct pronunciation of foreign words and names are very impressive. Bertie, Ridley and Boyd - perfect combination.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cathy 03-31-13
    cathy 03-31-13

    Middle School teacher with a 100 miles round-trip daily commute; which I could never maintain all these long years without audible books.

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    "Jolly Good Historical Read!"
    Where does Bertie: A Life of Edward VII rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I love the historical bits from the UK; their history totally out-swags the USA. I enjoy being able to relate to the modern fact that Bertie was Elizabeth II's Great Granddaddy. Though it is non-fiction the listening was among the best ever from Audible.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked that one views Victoria's reign from an altogether different perspective when focused on her son's point of view.


    Which character – as performed by Carole Boyd – was your favorite?

    I enjoyed the character of Bertie's wife Alexandra the best, but all the voices were wonderful - I guess I did not realized one person did all the parts. Nice!


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone 12-13-12
    Simone 12-13-12 Member Since 2014

    Join me on GoodReads too!

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    "Impressive!"

    Great book! It really leaves no unanswered questions about his life; it was so EXTREMELY thorough and well researched! Very impressive work.

    I would love to read a biography of George V written by the same author, it would feel like a natural continuation.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. D. Portnoy Sarasota, FL USA 04-22-14
    J. D. Portnoy Sarasota, FL USA 04-22-14 Member Since 2013

    Bookman Old Style

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    "I cried when I finished"

    This is one of those books I couldn't bear to put down. The writing is brilliant, the performance perfection itself, and the story mesmerizing. Gossip, history, fun, and enlightenment are all here, and Carole Boyd is absolutely dazzling in her rendition, mastering flawless pronunciation in several languages and acting worthy of an award. I recommend this book to all who enjoy history, biography, and the theatre of the ear.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flatbroke 05-10-13
    Flatbroke 05-10-13 Member Since 2015
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    "A charming pleasure-seeker who did the job his way"

    The reign of King Edward VII ("Bertie" to his family) was expected to be a disappointment by most. But he would have not have been shocked by this verdict, it was one he had been hearing for most of his life. A gambler and a philanderer, his bad behavior was not only whispered among the upper class, but also ended up as fodder for the unwashed masses when he ended up in court a few times. His most horrible crime was that he was not the carbon copy of his late father Prince Consort Albert, an offense that Queen Victoria could not forgive.

    This is an excellent, thorough book on the life of future King Edward VII. It is also very even-handed on the good and bad aspects of the man himself.

    In some ways, it's extraordinary that he did as well as he did. Prince Albert had high expectations for his children, especially Bertie, the heir. He devised a rigorous education for them. His oldest child, the Princess Royal Victoria, excelled while Bertie did not. Of course, this must have been the fault of poor strange Bertie, not the teachers and certainly not Prince Albert's program. In response to this failure, his education became more difficult, not less. and leaving him little free time, not that he would have been allowed to socialize with boys his own age if he did have free time.

    As a young man away from home, his male friends introduced him to a "loose woman" who became his mistress. An aghast Prince Albert hurried to confront his son about his behavior. Prince Albert's health declined soon afterwards, leading to his death.

    The fractious attitude of widowed Queen Victoria towards Bertie became a constant problem. Heartbroken by the loss of her beloved husband, Queen Victoria always blamed Bertie's dissolute behavior for Albert's death. Her punishment of him was of the most unproductive kind. For years, she forbade him any involvement in governmental affairs even after he expressed an interest, essentially making sure her heir was unprepared for his eventual responsibilities. It also gave him lots of free time to engage in the type of profligate lifestyle that his father had been determined to curtail. Bertie knew his mother was disappointed in his present behavior, but also knew that no penance he could do would have earned her forgiveness and healed the relationship. Queen Victoria even had Bertie and his new wife, beautiful, sweet Alexandra of Denmark spied on by the staff, to try to make sure both followed her directions. Not a perfect husband to Alexandra, he nonetheless backed her over the Queen during the war between her home country of Denmark and Germany (favored by the Queen) and the diplomatic problems that it caused.

    Though not officially allowed in governmental affairs, Bertie stepped into the royal role that his reclusive mother refused to fill after Albert's death: the social role. Always impeccably dressed Bertie and Alexandra performed almost all of the public functions as representatives of the royal family. They were a glamorous pair, probably a big contrast to the stiff and stolid Victoria and Albert. Infidelity in an upper class man was still acceptable as long as there was discretion and a devoted wife at the side. Bertie's letters to mistresses are surprisingly mundane - no husband would read these lines and grab a pisol. His unwelcome court appearances were the result of getting dragged into the limelight by the indiscreet misdeeds of others in his circle. He was open-minded for his time: he welcomed successful Jewish financiers into his social circle and he did not discriminate among race (though he opposed women's rights).

    His accession to the throne happened late in life. By then, he was aware of his own strengths and weaknesses. His interest in foreign relations, convivial manner and good relationships with the royalty of other contries (many of them relatives) were put to the good use on behalf of England. Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm's forceful, intrusive manner was annoying to the quiet Russian Tzar Nicholas II. King Edward VII told the Tzar that he had no wish to offer unsolicited advice like Wilhem. He had been a help to the young Tzar years earlier at the death of Tzar Alexander II (Alexandra's sister was the Tzarina). He and Alexandra comforted the grieving family, and performed all of the traditional Russian mourning rituals as members of the late Tzar's family (even kissing the lips of the rapidly decaying body), gaining the respect of the Russian public. King Edward VII's personality, his ability to put people at ease, and his shrewdness of the public impact of social behavior were his biggest assets and he made use of them in his reign.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen 01-14-13
    Kathleen 01-14-13
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    "Complete and detailed story of a remarkable king"
    Where does Bertie: A Life of Edward VII rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Bertie: A Life of Edward VII?

    His relationship with his parents.


    What about Carole Boyd’s performance did you like?

    She accurately portrayed the various voices.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Waiting to be king


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas San Diego, CA, United States 06-25-13
    Thomas San Diego, CA, United States 06-25-13
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    "Great Biography"
    Would you listen to Bertie: A Life of Edward VII again? Why?

    Well written and well read window on Victorian and Edwardian history well worth the time and expense!


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lulu 04-05-15
    Lulu 04-05-15

    I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Important End to a Dissipated Life"

    What struck me the most about this book was the inequality of time spent on Bertie's turn as a dissipated Prince of Wales and the time spent detailing what was by most accounts a successful and important reign as King. I realize this is largely because he spent the majority of his life as the Prince of Wales and only the last decade as King. And I understood the author's intent - to show how the huge blunders and small catastrophes of his early wasted years, shaped him into the king he became. But it still seems to me that the reader walks away with a far better understanding of what made him a terrible husband, questionable friend and embarrassing representative of the royal family, than what made him a successful monarch.

    All of that said, this was an informative, well researched biography of a man at the center of a stage, but more importantly of the time period in which he served and many of the secondary characters who surrounded him that we know little about. The characterizations of the prime ministers and senior governmental officials that served Victoria and then Edward was fascinating. She also gave a very balanced account of his wife Alexandra and his many mistresses, I thought. And even when Bertie was shown at his worst, the author used other key people in his life to show that no matter how poorly Bertie was behaving, his mother, his nephew, every member of the Churchill family and a few of his mistresses were worse.

    Near the end of the book the author that King Edward's parenting skills definitely gave credence to the generally held belief that the British royal family makes terrible parents. And I know we are often doomed to repeat the mistakes of our parents, but I thought that the saddest aspect of the book was how uninvolved he was in the lives of his children. After the example of his parents, one would think he might have tried to compensate. But the only child the book spends any time on was his heir who Edward obviously disliked and who he believed was as wasted a human being as his parents thought Edward was. His obvious grief at his sons death made his treatment of him when he was alive all the more pitiable.

    If you are interested in the prelude to and the reasoning behind World War I, this biography of the central figure of the Edwardian age, the uncle of Europe, this book is definitely worth reading. If you are more interested in the gossip and torrid behind the scene details of court life, this book is worth reading. In the end, the most interesting aspect of the book is that it manages to be two books in one. A tell-tell biography full of salacious gossip, rumors and fact, and a fascinating look at Europe before the war that shaped the 20th Century.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nora Pocatello, ID, United States 07-29-14
    Nora Pocatello, ID, United States 07-29-14

    12 n \\\\ Born and grew up in Scotland. No species of book I do not love. Favorite genre History, thrillers, biography, memoirs etc

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    "Good listening, gossipy, relaxing"
    What did you love best about Bertie: A Life of Edward VII?

    Sound research, hgighly entertaining


    What other book might you compare Bertie: A Life of Edward VII to and why?

    Autobiography of Henry V111 by Margaret George


    Have you listened to any of Carole Boyd’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I would if I had 50 hours! But I could listen to it more than once


    Any additional comments?

    A good satisfactory "read"

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Winchester, MA, United States 09-14-12
    Christine Winchester, MA, United States 09-14-12 Member Since 2009

    lusal

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    "Superb!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Bertie: A Life of Edward VII to be better than the print version?

    Haven't read the print version.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This is a completely new take on Edward VII. The book got wonderful reviews in Britain. I can see why.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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