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Download We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals Audiobook, by Gillian Gill Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,671 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gillian Gill Narrator: Rosalyn Landor Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2009 ISBN: 9780739384671
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It was the most influential marriage of the nineteenth century–and one of history’s most enduring love stories. Traditional biographies tell us that Queen Victoria inherited the throne as a naïve teenager, when the British Empire was at the height of its power, and seemed doomed to find failure as a monarch and misery as a woman until she married her German cousin Albert and accepted him as her lord and master. Now renowned chronicler Gillian Gill turns this familiar story on its head, revealing a strong, feisty queen and a brilliant, fragile prince working together to build a family based on support, trust, and fidelity, qualities neither had seen much of as children. The love affair that emerges is far more captivating, complex, and relevant than that depicted in any previous account. 

The epic relationship began poorly. The cousins first met as teenagers for a few brief, awkward, chaperoned weeks in 1836. At seventeen, charming rather than beautiful, Victoria already “showed signs of wanting her own way.” Albert, the boy who had been groomed for her since birth, was chubby, self-absorbed, and showed no interest in girls, let alone this princess. So when they met again in 1839 as queen and presumed prince-consort-to-be, neither had particularly high hopes. But the queen was delighted to discover a grown man, refined, accomplished, and whiskered. “Albert is beautiful!” Victoria wrote, and she proposed just three days later.

As Gill reveals, Victoria and Albert entered their marriage longing for intimate companionship, yet each was determined to be the ruler. This dynamic would continue through the years–each spouse, headstrong and impassioned, eager to lead the marriage on his or her own terms. For two decades, Victoria and Albert engaged in a very public contest for dominance. Against all odds, the marriage succeeded, but it was always a work in progress. And in the end, it was Albert’s early death that set the Queen free to create the myth of her marriage as a peaceful idyll and her husband as Galahad, pure and perfect. 

As Gill shows, the marriage of Victoria and Albert was great not because it was perfect but because it was passionate and complicated. Wonderfully nuanced, surprising, often acerbic–and informed by revealing excerpts from the pair’s journals and letters–We Two is a revolutionary portrait of a queen and her prince, a fascinating modern perspective on a couple who have become a legend.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Gillian Gill has written a superbly accessible account of the marriage of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg. She makes us understand that it was a union constantly pulled between two contradictory imperatives: the need for the Queen to be supreme head of state and Albert her subject, and the requirement that the nineteenth-century wife should be her husband's subordinate in every way. Gill grippingly recounts the tensions and negotiations between Victoria and Albert, both in politics and in intimate and domestic life, as they tried to reconcile this contradiction. She is particularly good on the couple's later life and their relationships with their many children. Her book is the story not just of a marriage and a family but also of the way in which Victoria appeared to grant Albert precedence but ultimately came to control the relationship. After Albert's early death Victoria set about creating an enduring legend of her marriage and inevitably emerged as both heroine and victor. Gill skillfully shows exactly how she did it. Stella Tillyard, author of A Royal Affair and The Aristocrats
  • "Every marriage is a balancing act. In this absorbing book, Gillian Gill shows how the royal couple counterpoised their partnership—and their passion—for twenty-one years while bearing the weight of the world on their shoulders. Daniel Mark Epstein, author of The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage
  • Gillian Gill’s double biography, We Two, is intimate and delicious. Gill has a gift for finding the telling details which bring the royal couple to life, and she has created a fascinating study of a woman negotiating her supreme power in a male-dominated society and a traditional marriage. The push and pull between Albert, who is a complicated mixture of rigidity and softness, and Victoria, reluctant mother of nine and natural sovereign, makes a great story. Susan Quinn, author of Marie Curie: A Life
  • This is a more compassionate look into the lives of Victoria and Albert, in which they become people to whom we can relate––the stuffed shirts get sent to the laundry and a much softer fabric is returned! Anne Perry, author of the series of Victorian mysteries
  • Gill’s spirited reconstruction of Queen Victoria’s three-act drama of a life—as teen-age ruler, partner to her ambitious consort Prince Albert, and queen in her own right after his death—enjoins us to rethink the meaning of the word “Victorian,” too long a synonym for moral stuffiness. Perhaps now, with Gill’s timely book, we can revalue this much-maligned term to let it reflect Victoria’s courage in managing her long reign at a time when there were few opportunities for women of any rank, let alone for royals. A thought-provoking look at an era starting to grapple with issues that shed light on recent history. Carolyn Burke, author of Lee Miller, A Life
  • What a whale of a wonderful read this is! Queen Victoria and Prince Albert jump forward from these pages in all their full, complex humanity—she, the besotted, emotional wife; and he, the reserved, cool, moralizing spouse. We Two shares a passionate, often frustrating relationship, one fraught with unconscious rivalries. Gillian Gill tells us the full story of a royal marriage that was to have profound effects upon European history—and she does so in a compelling, thoroughly engrossing way. Maggie Scarf, author of September Songs
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ruth | 2/8/2014

    " I loved reading this book. I've always wandered just what Victoria was like. Was she really the doormat that she seems to have wanted to paint herself? This book answers that question and many more. Great read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 2/6/2014

    " A very readable bio of Victoria & Albert with emphasis on their relationship, and relationships in general. Really makes history come alive. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Meme | 2/1/2014

    " This is one of the best and most engaging biographies I've read (am still reading). I read a long biography of Queen Victoria years ago which was interesting, but not nearly as lively as this. It only goes through to the death of Prince Albert. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angie | 1/31/2014

    " This seemed to be well researched, but the writing wasn't very good. I wish I had a nickle for every time the author used the words "misogyny" and "xenophobe". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maureen | 1/26/2014

    " This book was absolutely fascinating! I chose it b/c so many fiction books I'd read were set in Victorian England and made so many passing references to the Queen, I became curious. Gill's writing style was very enjoyable and the entire story was interesting. I would recommend it to anyone - even people who don't enjoy biographies overly much. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrea | 1/24/2014

    " DELIGHTFUL. A great read that goes beyond the obvious romantic history to discuss their partnership, accomplishments, and shortcomings. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Catherine | 1/11/2014

    " Gill goes back and forth in history a bit but she does at least acknowledge various viewpoints of different events, including Prince Albert's sexuality and Victoria's relationship with John Brown (about a page). Not horribly gripping, but what do you expect from Victoria and Albert? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin Newton | 12/10/2013

    " This was a great read historically speaking. It also presented a different view of the relationship between the Queen and the Prince Consort. It hints that they were often at great odds on major issues with raising their children, running the palace and the country. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kirsti | 12/3/2013

    " I enjoyed this dual biography. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tessa | 10/29/2013

    " Recounts the early life and marriage of Queen Victoria to her beloved Albert. Ends very abruptly, unfortunately, with the "Mrs. Brown" chapter of Victoria's life, which has the effect of undermining the book's focus on her marriage to Albert. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn | 10/10/2013

    " A little repetitive, but otherwise, very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Constance | 6/26/2013

    " This is a great take on a complicated relationship. It reads much easier than a usual history text. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darcie | 2/26/2013

    " Very readable and informative. Loved the subject matter and would like to learn more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 11/2/2012

    " I thought this book was really well written. I used the find definition option quite a lot while reading it. Really was an excellent intimate portrayal to their lives. Hated for it to end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gail | 9/15/2012

    " The movie "Young Victoria" got me interested in her and her marriage to her first cousin. It's fascinating stuff but I did bog down about two-thirds of the way through. That's just me. I don't do as well with non-fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbonfiglio | 3/27/2012

    " A well written historical account of the life and reign of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, based in part on their correspondence and journals. Insightful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Librarians | 3/24/2012

    " Very good accounts of the lives of Victoria and Albert. Lots of background information. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susanne | 2/17/2012

    " Amazing that the story of the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert could be riveting page-turning. An extraordinary story of an era. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jess | 1/28/2012

    " Man, how different would history have been if Prince Albert hadn't been such an unrelenting prude? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen | 12/9/2011

    " For a relatively short book, it covers a lot of ground, both personal and political. Not the normal hagiography of either of the main subjects. The depiction of Vicky as victim of her father's goals is heart-breaking. A less than sympathetic treatment of the Queen as widow. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbonfiglio | 5/3/2011

    " A well written historical account of the life and reign of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, based in part on their correspondence and journals. Insightful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica | 4/11/2011

    " Although you might expect a history of the quintessential Victorian marriage to be a little dry, it's actually quite juicy: from the sad and abusive upbringings of these two rulers, to their unexpectedly contentious marriage, this book is admirably restrained while divulging all the juicy details. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 4/1/2011

    " Very interesting view of their marriage. I enjoyed it very much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eealtmeyer | 3/4/2011

    " This was a great read historically speaking. It also presented a different view of the relationship between the Queen and the Prince Consort. It hints that they were often at great odds on major issues with raising their children, running the palace and the country. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 2/28/2011

    " OK, so far, I would give it 3 stars. It is a historical book, no fancy add ins, not much embellished, very dry - but with that said, I find it interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shani | 1/9/2011

    " Listened to this book while I was working on holiday cards this year. I found a lot to dislike in both Albert and Victoria. I hadn't expected that. It was definitely an interesting approach to a couple who are usually considered saintly. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adele | 1/7/2011

    " Wonderful portrait of the marriage of Victoria and Albert! So engagingly written; intreprets the material in a fresh, interesting way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stuart | 1/5/2011

    " Not a big non-fiction reader but I found this book very easy to read and full of interesting information. The writing is a bit sensational in places and the notes are not references in the usual manner. I would have liked to see more references as well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 12/26/2010

    " What can I say? I like reading about Queen Victoria and I learned some new information from this book. However, the book does assume the reader has some basic knowledge of the subject and it is not a starter book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 12/7/2010

    " I really enjoyed this biography! What a pair, and it was especially interesting because the two lived through such complicated times. The Industrial Revolution, Imperialism, various wars...it was engrossing and a little romantic at the same time! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellen | 11/30/2010

    " A dual biography of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and their marriage. Balanced and richly detailed, and a good read. "

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About the Author
Author Gillian GillGillian Gill, who holds a PhD in modern French literature from Cambridge University, has taught at Northeastern, Wellesley, Yale, and Harvard. She is the author of Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale, Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries, and Mary Baker Eddy. She lives in suburban Boston.
About the Narrator

Rosalyn Landor has won eight AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a finalist for the Audie Award. She has worked as an actor since the age of seven, both in Europe and the United States. Her extensive list of credits includes leading roles in film, theater, and audio productions, as well as in various miniseries on all the major television networks and in such productions as Masterpiece Theatre’s Sherlock Holmes and Rumpole of the Bailey.