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
Captivating & Engrossing
Victoria is a compelling well-written, historical fiction novel, depicting the early reign of Queen Victoria.
Alexandrina Victoria became the Queen of England at the age of eighteen. Victoria had been sheltered to an extreme extent by her mother and Sir John, so that when she became the Queen, she wasn’t as prepared as she should have been. Her mother, and Sir John, both assumed that Victoria would come to them for assistance. They were wrong. Victoria refused all of their counsel. She leaned instead heavily, on her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, for advice.
Victoria and Lord Melbourne developed deep feelings for one another. It was, however, a relationship that could never truly be. Regardless of what the Prime Minister wanted, he put Queen Victoria’s well-being above everything and did what was necessary, even though, he knew it would hurt him. Queen Victoria’s family conspired behind her back. They wanted to strip her of her power. Lord Melbourne stepped in, though, and saved the Queen from ruin.
Since this is to be a TV series, I’m sure that there will be a book two. I’m looking forward to reading about the Queen’s life with Prince Albert. I felt as if the book came to its conclusion too abruptly, but in truth, it’s probably because I didn’t want it to end.
I highly recommend this well-written, character-driven book about Queen Victoria. It’s engrossing, captivating, and unputdownable. I loved it.
I received this ARC from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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.