Friday, July 26, 2013

D. Maria II, Tudo Por Um Reino - Isabel Stilwell (Portuguese HF Challenge & HF Challenge)

D. Maria II - Tudo por um Reino
This is another read for the Portuguese Historical Fiction Challenge. Although I have several books by Stilwell (all biographies of well known female Portuguese historical characters) this was my first read by her.

Sadly there doesn't seem to be an English translation but for those of you who understand Portuguese there is a Kindle version.

This is a biography of Queen Maria II, a contemporary of Queen Victoria who became Queen of Portugal when she was just 7 years old but had to spend the first years fighting her uncle (and ex-fiance) for the throne. Maria had a pretty unconventional childhood, she was raised in Brazil, the daughter of King Pedro IV of Portugal and Emperor of Brazil and his wife Maria Leopoldina of Austria, and she spent a few years in Europe travelling from court to court tying  to gather support to fight her uncle. In 1834 she and her father, who had abdicated to join her, finally succeed in regaining the throne.

Maria seems to have been a strong woman devoted to her country and what she saw as her duty to it. She played an active part in the politics of the time and left behind a prolific correspondence with Queen Victoria that she had met when they were both children and she visited London.  That correspondence was what I found most interesting about this book. I wasn't aware of it and although the two queens were contemporaries we can see how different their temperaments and political attitudes were. They remained very close till the death of Maria in 1853, when she was just 34 years old, giving birth to her eleventh child.

Overall it seems to me that Stilwell does a competent job of relating the main events of the times, of showing the main characters in the political stage at the time and the main influences in the queen's life. However I found the general tone of the book a bit too modern and had some trouble finishing what I thought, due to the subject, was going to be a very quick read despite being a big book. I am undecided if it was the author's writing but since I have Catarina de Bragança and Filipa de Lencastre by her to read next I'm sure I will make up my mind on whether to continue reading her.


  1. I read a bit of Maria II biography which is part of the collection Reis de Portugal and fell in love with her due to the letters she exchanged with Queen Victoria. I loved how she mentioned her husband and children, how both wrote about their families. Even though I studied History, it was only with those letters that kings and queens became real people, with earthly cares, if that makes sense.

  2. I have that book collection too but I haven't read them yet. You are tempting me though... ;-)

    That makes complete sense. It was the best part of this book!


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