A Novel of a Young Queen by the Creator/Writer of the Masterpiece Presentation on PBS
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"Victoria is an absolutely captivating novel of youth, love, and the often painful transition from immaturity to adulthood. Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit."
– AMANDA FOREMAN
Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin—creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter—brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.
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.
Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.
“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”
Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, 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.
On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Goodwin does it again!
Alexandrina Victorine,only 18 years old,becomes Queen Victoria, a title that seems almost bigger than she is. This book focuses on her early adjustments, her friendship with Lord Melbourne, thee then Whig Prime Minister, her dealings with the money and power grubbing relatives and wanna bes, and how hard she fought to be respected when as an isolated child, she was anything but.
With an often misquoted line from Shakespeare’s Henry V that “heavy is the head that wears the crown”, we she in this tome, the young child become the young adult. With the help of Melbourne, Victoria learns just how to lead. In fact, I doubt she would have flourished into the wise monarch we all hear about.
In the 62 million words- reported by Goodwin- Victoria’s journals contain, we see the whole woman struggling with growing up, learning to speak for herself and not only make decisions a young lady needed to, but decisions for the betterment of an Empire that “the sun never set on.”
According to the afterward of the book, Dausy Goodwin, the author, says that Victoria “was the most un-Victorian of heroines”. She must propose according to State law, although it is felt that, on some level, she had deferred to her elders in even thinking about marrying Albert. And Albert, too, acted differently than a man of his time, having only eyes for his beloved rather than the roving eye that was usual for a married man of the time.
In “Victoria”, Daisy Goodwin, author and screenwriter of the BBC miniseries of the same name, writes about Victoria before Albert. The second book in the series “Victoria and Albert: A Royal Love Affair” picks up after the proposal and promises to continue this wonderful love story not only between these two people, but between a monarch and her country. Highly recommended. 5/5
a “chicken-egg” conversation: whether the idea for a screen production was first and book second
I love my Brit History, and Victoria, as one of the most unlikely candidates for Queen oversaw the multitude of changes in the 19th century. While this book focuses on her early life and determination to be independent and fully embrace her new role, for me, much of the intriguing parts of her life were the post-Albert years, the trials and tribulations of her children, and her near-reclusive removal from the public eye.
But now there is a chance to see Victoria as she was, pre-widow’s weeds on a round and seemingly joyless countenance, and what potential there is for a compelling read. It did, however, read very much like a screenwriter’s book to me… and therein lies the rub.
Early on, Victoria appears as a sheltered and spoilt child, frustrated with her mother’s attempts to protect (or manipulate as common history would have one believe) her: cycling through emotional ups and downs much like a teenager. The requisite emotional impact behind her actions was lacking, if not entirely demanding readers assume it there. With the choice of her ‘royal name’ and her determination to strike out and take on the role of Queen, we see mistakes made in haste, great learning and growth. All rather superficially until the very compelling Lord Melbourne, William Lamb.
The introduction of Lamb, a man with a rather troubled personal life but wholly versed in the politics of the day was eager to influence and inform the young Queen, and from early mentor to later trusted friend and advisor, he did provide a sense of continuity and intrigue to the story… Fictionalized to bring in a romantic element, the appeal of Lamb for Victoria was apparent. Older, father-like, educated, deferential and self-aware: he’s not entirely Byronic in his manner, but there is a layer of melancholy that does appear in context.
While Goodwin doesn’t always score high points from me for pacing, the descriptions and insets that allow readers to visualize the moments are wonderful. It is easy to see that this could be a “chicken-egg” conversation: whether the idea for a screen production was first and book second, or book was written with the intention of a screen production – the story is perfectly suited to the screen. As a book, the subject and the author’s treatment of fact v fiction is the true intrigue in the story, with a few moments of little known history revealed and the years pre-Albert are highlighted, unlike many other books about this woman.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.