ARC Review: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

victoriacoverOfficial Synopsis from Amazon: 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.


 

Genre & Setting: Historical Fiction that follows Queen Victoria’s early years

*** I received an eARC of Victoria by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. ***

 Review: Victoria was most informative, but unfortunately I didn’t love this book and felt it ended too abruptly.

When I saw this title appear on NetGalley, I was very excited, as Daisy Goodwin’s book The American Heiress was great fun, with a pulpy, Downton Abbey, feel to it. Sadly, there is none of that joy and spark here in Victoria.

Victoria starts out with a lengthy prologue, set in 1835, that sets the scene of Sir John Conroy, a close friend of Victoria’s mother, trying to gain control and influence over Victoria. After the prologue, which could’ve been trimmed down considerably, we skip two years to 1837, and Victoria becoming queen. She is eighteen years old, and has never been alone in a room with a man before, nor does she know anything about her country and leadership. She does not even know what protocol to follow.

This is the first book that I’ve read where Victoria, and a young Victoria at that, is the main character. So there was a ton of information here about Victoria and England at this time that was new to me. I liked this aspect of the book, as learning while I read is something I really enjoy, and is one of the main reasons that I adore historical fiction.

But sadly, as much as this book was informative,  I never connected to Victoria, a character who is a teenage queen, with the world (and men!) against her, waiting for her to fail, which really surprised me. I thought she’d move me and I’d be on her side, but I never really felt that inspired by her. Instead she irritated me with her immaturity and her lack of awareness. Without giving too much of the plot away, issues like The Bedchamber Crisis and dealings with Lady Flora were just a bit too out of touch with reality for me to sympathize with Victoria. I don’t remember ever hearing about these events before reading this book, so this was new information to me and I found it fascinating.

Also her dealings and closeness with her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, was a little odd and made her seem very childish here. I just kept hoping she’d get a dose of reality and realize that maybe Melbourne had other things to worry about than to go horseback riding with her? It just seemed oh so very silly in light of what other things Melbourne could’ve been doing. But, she was very young and lived a very sheltered life, and the book does show her growth, but it just wasn’t enough for me.

The ending of the book was very sudden, and I didn’t feel that there was a solid conclusion to the story. Victoria felt like the start of a series, and since there is a PBS series coming out, with the same name, written by the same author, I wonder if this is just a novelization of that show. It definitely felt that way at the end, and I was disappointed.

I do think I will watch the series though, as I think Victoria as a character will appear more sympathetic on the screen than on the page, and if there is more to the series than how the book ends, or at least a second season, then that would be great and I feel would show more of Victoria’s growth.

Bottom Line: Interesting historical detail, but Victoria as a character is difficult to connect to, and the book lacks a solid ending. I rated Victoria three stars on Goodreads.

Links to Victoria on Amazon and Goodreads and the book releases today, November 22, 2016.

Link to the trailer for the PBS series Victoria here. It premieres January 15, 2017.

Links to The American Heiress on Amazon and Goodreads

Does this sound like a book or show that you are interested in? Did you ever see the movie The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt? (I did, and don’t remember anything about it apparently, as this whole book felt new to me!) And how come I’ve never heard the term “criminal conversation” before?


23 thoughts on “ARC Review: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

  1. I read The Fortune Hunter by Goodwin, and unfortunately it was just sort of lukewarm for me. I liked it, but it was nothing special. Sorry that this one wasn’t amazing for ya! It’s always nice when we get get ARCs and then rave about them 🙂 I hate getting ones and being like, “well, yeah… this was okay, but…”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard mixed reviews for The Fortune Hunter. I really enjoyed Goodwin’s other book, The American Heiress, but haven’t had a chance to get to The Fortune Hunter yet.
      I was pretty bummed not to love this book – it had everything in it that I love (historical fiction, royals, etc), but I just couldn’t get into it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds interesting! And the author seems to know what she’s taking about, not just someone who’s decided to write about royalty on a whim. However, all the knowledge in the world will not be enough to make a book likeable. Maybe she focused too much on facts?
    Also, I think Victoria would never have been relatable… But we’ll see how it goes on-screen.
    Great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The historical aspects were really interesting, and the book was very readable, even if Victoria was difficult to relate to. I have high hopes for the TV show – I’ve heard that it’s a great show, so I’m looking forward to it 🙂

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    1. Thank you! Yes, it really is a great historical fiction book in terms of information and setting the scene. And it is very readable, even if Victoria as a character is annoying in parts! I’m looking forward to the TV show.

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    1. Thanks 🙂 This book doesn’t bog you down with factual information like so many books can do. It is very readable, but you may like The American Heiress a bit better – that’s got a vibe that is more fun and has a Downton Abbey feel, with a very rich American heiress falling in love with a member of the English aristocracy who has his own secrets.
      I’m hoping that the TV show Victoria lives up to the hype! I’ve heard good things about it.

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  3. Great review, but now I am in a quandary as to whether I want to read it or not. It sounds like there is a lot here I want to know about (I, too, saw the Goodreads info and was excited to read the book, loving historical fiction), but I hate when I can’t connect with the main character in some way. You have made it sound too fascinating to resist, however, so I just may have to read it 😉 if just so I can find out all the details! (Bedchamber crisis, indeed!) 😯😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! 🙂 There was a lot of information that was fascinating, so the book is worth reading for those tidbits. I just wish I connected more to Victoria! I’m hoping I connect more to the show.

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  4. I watched the show Victoria and it is indeed the same writer so the book gives more depth to the characters’ with their thoughts, and no focus on the servants unlike the show. I haven’t read it yet but a review I read made me want to. I loved the show and can’t wait to see Victoria again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear that you loved the show! I’m really looking forward to it. I’m interested to see how they bring the servants into the story in the show, as they weren’t a part of the plot of the book at all. And that makes me wonder why they were dropped from the book – maybe that made the book too long or they wanted a bit of a difference between the book and the show to entice people to read & watch both. Who knows!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I wonder if Victoria being childish at every turn is really part of experiencing her life. If she was as sheltered and young as you say, she probably wasn’t entirely brilliant or socially aware. I work with 18-year-old students every day, and depending on how much of the world they’ve seen and where they’ve lived and their income level, they can know very, very little outside of their own existence (we work on that) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She definitely was not aware of her subjects and their issues at first, and that is probably at least partly due to her upbringing. She was very sheltered, and the people around her knew she was valuable and powerful so she was always aware of people trying to manipulate her to do their wishes. So in parts she just didn’t get it, which I thought was kind of odd, but in other ways she was very aware.
      I think she was smart, at least other things I’ve heard about her lend me to think more positively about her. Some scenes with her I really liked, others were extremely frustrating (ie, scenes where important things are trying to be passed in Parliament and she insists on the prime minister being next to her doing something silly rather than doing important government work).
      This book felt like the start of a series, and I don’t know that it is, but coupled with the TV show I think I will feel more fondly toward it (and Victoria as she is portrayed here) the longer it goes on. With the abrupt ending it just felt incomplete. I’ve heard that the TV show is excellent, and goes past where the book stops, so I’ve got high hopes for it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m sorry you didn’t connect with this one. It seems like there’s certainly a lot of interesting things to talk about here that should capture readers. Who isn’t interested i a teenage queen struggling to solidify her power? At least we have the PBS show to look forward to, I guess. I hadn’t heard of it before, but I’m interested!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the historical tidbits were absolutely fascinating! I’ve heard really good things about the show, and so I’m hoping to be able to connect more to Victoria onscreen.
      I saw a review for a nonfiction book about Victoria, called Victoria:The Queen by Julia Baird and it sounds really interesting! I think that book goes through her whole life, rather than just the early stages of her reign.

      Liked by 1 person

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