By: Daisy Goodwin
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley
I do not like the name Alexandrina. From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.
Melbourne nodded. “Victoria.”
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.
Readers of my blog know that I’m a big fan of period dramas and I am looking forward to sitting down and watching Victoria starring Jenna Coleman. I didn’t know that there was an accompanying (?) novel that was coming out alongside the series by the same person who penned the show. Admittedly this is not my first foray with Daisy Goodwin’s work; I started reading the eGalley of The Fortune Hunter (review) a few years ago but sadly had to put it down as I just had no time and the first chapter or so didn’t compel me to finish it. Nonetheless I was pretty excited to check out this title. This book will be available on 22 November 2016.
Once I started reading this book, I just could not put it down, I pretty much ended up reading almost the entire book in one evening (case in point). I was absolutely enthralled and invested in Victoria’s early days coming into her inheritance as Queen, asserting her independence, and learning how to navigate through politics, the Court, the matter of her gender. She’s young, she can be impulsive, but she also wants to be the best she can be. She is a ruler, and a young one at that, in a world dominated by men so the bits with all of the powerful men of the country sort of eyeing her every move and concocting ways to tone down her power, assert a regent, etc. was interesting but also pretty wary-making. It was also interesting to see her make up for lost time so to speak after being under the dominating control of Sir John Conroy and her mother the Duchess of Kent, from bounding up and down the stairs to standing up for herself and trying to distance herself from them in some respects. It’s heartbreaking in a sense, but at the same time I really felt for Victoria and her sense of loneliness and detachnment from her mother as she was growing up. It was cute and pretty cool how she looked up to Elizabeth Tudor as a role model.
I was however quite surprised at how much of this novel focused on her relationship with Lord Melbourne. I knew there were some gossip about the two of them because she relied on him so much as Private Secretary during her early days as monarch but I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the extrapolation of their relationship here. Meanwhile I wish her budding romance with Albert leading up to the final scene had more scenes/focus, but it’s okay, I thought Albert was precious despite his seriousness and totally opposite personality to Victoria 😛 And Ernest is such a hoot, had some of the best lines in the book (his comment about the Windsor uniform had me cracking up), and I love his scenes with his brother.
I could go on and on about this book but suffice to say I really enjoyed reading Victoria and highly recommend it if you enjoy reading historical fiction, books about royalty, and/or are looking forward to the television show when it airs in North America 🙂