Author: Daisy Goodwin
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: Victorian England (I laughed when I typed this.)
Source: Net Galley
Publication Date: Nov 22, 2016
“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”
Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”
In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.
One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….
Drawing on Victoria’s diaries 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 even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.
What I Say:
I thought this book was very well written. In all honesty, I know very little factual information about Queen Victoria; most of what I know about her I’ve read in fictional accounts and Wikipedia. I cannot write about the veracity of Goodwin’s story, but then again, this is fiction and I shouldn’t have to.
What I judged this book by is how it pulled me into the story. I followed along with Victoria growing into being a queen and enjoyed the adventure from page one. We first meet Victoria when she is younger and before she’s become queen of England. It’s a bit of the backstory that portrays the uneasy relationship that she had with her mother and this relationship plays an important role in how Victoria rules and how she makes decisions.
The main story, however, is the struggle that this 18 year old girl makes as she transitions to being queen. How does one prepare for such an important role, let alone a teenager? She leans heavily upon the advice and wisdom of Lord Melbourne to the point where her mother, other nobles, and her subjects begin to question the actual extent of their relationship. Was there something going on between the two of the beyond subject and queen?
The story proceeds through time and takes the reader to when the romance between Victoria and Albert commences. If anything at all bothered me about this book, it would be the romance bits. At first, Victoria and Albert don’t get along. He’s too serious and she’s too flighty. Then it seemed as if it was an all of a sudden epiphany that Victoria realizes she loves him and proposes marriage. Maybe it happened this way in real life, but it really felt rushed to me. Then again, Victoria was being pressured by all sides to find a husband and one that her people would accept and she, herself, was looking for an ally.
That aside, I really enjoyed this novel. I liked the character development, Goodwin’s writing style, and the pace of the story. When I reached the end, I literally yelled out loud, “That’s it???” Reading eBooks tend to surprise me like that, lol. I truly felt like there was more to the story and I was sad that it ended where it did. I can easily see Goodwin developing this into a duology or even a trilogy. I definitely would read any further books she would happen to write about Queen Victoria. I gave this 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and consider this book one of my favorites from 2016.