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