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Summary

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Dame Judi Dench from director Stephen Frears, releasing September 22, 2017.

Tall and handsome, Abdul was just 24 years old when he arrived in England from Agra to wait at tables for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Within a year Abdul had grown to become a powerful figure at court, the queen's teacher, or Munshi; her counsel on Urdu and Indian affairs; and a friend close to the queen's heart. "I am so very fond of him," Queen Victoria would write in 1888. "He is so good and gentle and understanding...a real comfort to me."

This marked the beginning of the most scandalous decade in Queen Victoria's long reign. Devastated first by the death of Prince Albert in 1861 and then her personal servant John Brown in 1883, Queen Victoria quickly found joy in an intense and controversial relationship with her Munshi, who traveled everywhere with her, cooked her curries, and cultivated her understanding of the Indian subcontinent - a region, as empress of India, she was long intrigued by but could never visit. The royal household roiled with resentment, but their devotion grew in defiance of all expectation and the societal pressures of their time and class and lasted until the queen's death on January 22, 1901.

Drawn from never-before-seen firsthand documents that had been closely guarded secrets for a century, Shrabani Basu's Victoria & Abdul is a remarkable history of the last years of the 19th century in English court, an unforgettable view onto the passions of an aging queen and a fascinating portrayal of how a young Indian Muslim came to play a central role at the heart of the British Empire.

©2017 Shrabani Basu (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"A tale of Empire and intrigue, brought vividly back to life." (Vikas Swarup, author of Slumdog Millionaire)
"If this had been the plot of a novel, it would have been dismissed as foolishly far-fetched. But Victoria & Abdul is fact rather than fiction, and therein lies its power." ( The Times of India)

What members say

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Is This a History Lesson?

I tried and tried to get into this audiobook. I found the narrator didn't put much feeling into the reading, not enough emotion. As she introduced the travelling of the characters to different countries and areas It kept going back to what places used to be called and the wars that had taken place, which I thought had no relevance to the story. It didn't grab my attention and I wanted to get into the dialogue between Queen Victoria and Abdul and what they did together. I do believe the true story is a very interesting one but I couldn't get over all the history being told. Not for me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Very interesting, beautifully narrated.

A wonderful, sad and moving story, well written and narrated. Very enjoyable. Would definitely recommend. I'm sure I'll read it again. It has given me a taste for historical stories of the royals.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderfull

I loved listening to this book. I couldn't help but think back to those times and wonder what they were like!!
It made me look back at our nation's history

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Fascinating

Having watched the film it was good to hear the true story behind it all.

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  • Cassie
  • 30-12-17

Honestly, can’t finish yet.

I bought the book after seeing the movie’s preview because we all know the books are always better. But I can’t bring myself to finish this one. It’s dry. There is no flow to the story or reading of it and with the diary inserts it becomes repetitive. Abdul sounds like an obnoxious prat over time. I really wanted to enjoy this story but alas...

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • California consumer
  • 16-12-17

Very slow read

What did you like best about Victoria & Abdul (Movie Tie-in)? What did you like least?

Like the story and reserarch behind it; hated the bogging down by details

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Sad state of politics

Which scene was your favorite?

all about the same

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

no ; reading the book was enough, but the movie would move infinitely faster

Any additional comments?

With 20/20 hindsight, I'd see the movie instead

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Kenny Cook
  • 04-12-17

what a great story!

I found this to be so interesting. I had never heard of the relationship between Queen Victoria and Abdul. it's a fitting story for what's going on in the world today, with Muslims being portrayed as evil. Some things never change.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful