Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Review: 'Victoria' by Daisy Goodwin

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Published by St. Martin's Press on November 22, 2016
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Chick lit, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Summary from Goodreads: 
“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.

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Princess Alexandrina Victoria knows that one day she will become queen. When a rather complex line of succession has cleared her path to the throne, she can only hope that her ill uncle, the current king, will pass after she has turned eighteen. If her uncle passes away after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria will be able to ascend the throne without the need for a regent - a person appointed to administer a country because a monarch is a minor, absent, or incapacitated. 

The book opens to Princess Alexandrina Victoria before her eighteen birthday. She is living with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her mother's advisor, Sir John Conroy, in Kensington Palace. Wanting to shelter her and keep from society in hopes that of becoming regents. However, the timing of King William IV's death left them both trying to gain power and influence over Victoria herself. 

When Alexandrina Victoria is crowned she takes on a new name, Victoria. As she pulls aways from her mother and Sir John Conroy, she begins to lean heavily upon her prime minister, the scandal ridden and ever charming Lord Melbourne. Victoria's affection towards Lord Melbourne, whom she calls Lord M, grows from a friendship to something much more. But with pressure on the Queen to find a husband and secure her title, since at that time young women were prone to "hysteria" and the only known cure was marriage and motherhood, she knows that being a monarch means that she can not simply marry just anyone. 

Historical fiction has to be one of my top five favourite genres. This book focuses on the first two years of Queen Victoria's reign, mainly her coronation and her engagement. Though not a lot occurs in the novel, that pertains to any historical significance besides the two already addressed above, it does contain a lot about the Queen's personal life and the struggles she may have gone through - family drama, the country watching her every move waiting for her to mess up, her romantic ideas and thoughts towards two important men, and the struggle to become a Queen that she wants to be and her country will be proud of. 

I highly enjoyed Victoria! The characters were so realistically flawed, it made them so unexpectedly human. I have to admit that I didn't like Victoria at times (especially with regarding what happened to Lady Flora) however one has to understand that it is difficult for a teenager, much less one that has never been introduced to society before her reign as Queen, to understand and fulfill her role immediately once a crown is put on her head. 

Well reading this novel, I felt transported back to the nineteenth century. The writing, the characters, and the overall plot of the novel was enough to captivate me. But what really stood out to me was Goodwin's ability to make you feel as if you are a part of the novel. I felt entertained and well informed, and most of all happy to have read this novel. I can tell you right now that I will definitely be watching the show when it airs on January 15th, 2017 on PBS. 

I recommend this book (as well as the show) to anyone that likes England, history, the British monarchy, coming of age stories, as well as love stories. 



About The Author:
DAISY GOODWIN, a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University, is a leading television producer in the U.K. Her poetry anthologies, including 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life, have introduced many new readers to the pleasures of poetry, and she was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. That was the year she published her first novel the American Heiress ( My Last Duchess in UK) , followed by The Fortune Hunter and now Victoria. She has also created VICTORIA the PBS/ITV series which starts in January. She has three dogs, two dogs, and one husband.

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