Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Review: Victoria

Author: Daisy Goodwin
Publisher: 22 November 2016 by St Martin’s Press
Pages: 450 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, British literature, romance
My Rating: 5 cups


Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world. Surely she must rely on her mother and her venal advisor, Sir John Conroy, or her uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who are all too eager to relieve her of the burdens of power.

The young queen is no puppet, however. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.

Everyone keeps saying she is destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.

Drawing on Victoria s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen richly to life in this magnificent novel.

My Thoughts

“One day she would be Queen. Then everything would be different. If only her Uncle King would live until she was eighteen.”

I have eagerly anticipated reading this book and I am happy to say it delivered - I LOVED it! I am a big historical fiction fan and found this a highly enjoyable read. Now be warned, this is not the entire Queen Victoria saga and Albert only appears towards the latter part of the book. But, fingers crossed, it sets up for future penned stories. This book I found to be highly engaging as it tells the coming of age story of the young Victoria and her first two years as Queen. She is youthful, she is compulsive, she is immature and at times she is annoying. But gosh, she’s great!

This is a personal fictional recount, based on Daisy Goodwin’s extensive research, makes these early years well and truly come to life. This is not a boring historical tale but a lively, youthful recount of the moulding of a compulsive teenager into one of the most famous Queens of all time. Real historical characters are brought to life in a most compelling way and I admit I loved learning more about Lord Melbourne especially. The changing point of view for the main characters really assist the reader in developing a true understanding of their thoughts and motivations.

Initially Victoria had to battle against what had been traditionally a very male dominated political and royal arena. It was interesting to witness Victoria’s character develop and her determination form when confronted with many either vying for power or in pursuit of her hand in marriage. This is a book about relationships and whether it be with Victoria and her Prime Minister Lord Melbourne or Victoria with her mother or ladies in waiting or Uncle or prospective suitors - they are all presented in way that will please the reader.

“The only way he could serve his Queen was to find her a husband who would make her happy.”

Victoria and led a sheltered life until her ascension to the throne and, as a consequence with Lord Melbourne’s assistance, had to establish her own regal ways. This bonding, without giving anything away, was wonderful. My heart went out to the dashing Lord Melbourne.

“The silence that followed was thick with the weight of all the unspoken feeling. Melbourne saw that Victoria’s lip was trembling, and had to clasp his hands together so that he would not reach out and take her in his arms.”

I ardently hope that Goodwin will continue beyond these first couple of years and gift us with her literary interpretation of the real and lasting love story Victoria eventually develops with Prince Albert. For now - as one simply must read the book before the movie/TV adaptation - I cannot wait to view the BBC series with relish.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

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