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kateh

Lost in the Stacks

I read widely and compulsively and my fancies are ever changing. My love of reading, however, is no mere fancy. 

Currently reading

The Stress of Her Regard
Tim Powers
Progress: 480/960 minutes

Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera

Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera - This is a nice, short history of Queen Victoria on vacation, which earned its fourth star in the last chapter with a fascinating bit of British colonial history and the illumination of how important the Queen's leisure was to international relations.

This work suffers from the same problems that plague most histories of the French Riviera. Never a seat of political intrigue and relatively safe from military campaigns, there isn't much history to write about. It has a great climate, but was hard to get to until engineering advances (and the order of Napoleon) brought the Corniche Road and, later, the railroad. Nice was a popular winter resort for consumptives fleeing cold northern climes, until people got the bright idea to vacation there. In a moment of economic uncertainty, someone built the Promenade des Anglais (that is, the Englishmen's walking path) which brought jobs and more Englishmen. Royalty and hanger's on started coming down to walk, gamble, and see each other's flower gardens.

So Victoria did what everyone else did when they came to the Riviera: next to nothing. She spent nearly a year of her life, in six week segments, visiting Cannes, Hyeres and Nice. She visited the Riviera more than any other vacation spot outside of England. She visited Churches and was an engaged participant in the yearly Battle of the Flowers.

Nelson's short history is a lovely work of insight into the vacation habits of the elderly Victoria - rote knowledge of the Royal families of Europe helps keep the characters sorted, but there is a helpful 'Dramatis Personae' in the back if the reader needs some help.