Hope you’re having a relaxing Saturday.
Here’s a new review for a book I read back in December! Slowly catching up 😉
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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….
This was an exceptional historical fiction for me. Why?
Firstly, because it took me by surprise. I prided myself on knowing about Victoria’s life, but Daisy Goodwin opened my eyes to aspects I had never known before. And I love that! The book chronicles the early years of Victoria’s reign, starting just before she becomes queen and spanning to a marriage proposal. As the novel explores her early struggle against society, Parliament and her family, it centers itself around a fundamental relationship, that between Victoria and Melbourne.
These characters were another highlight for me. The dialogue and interactions between the two were so well written, I easily got lost into each moment. I enjoyed also how Goodwin presented both of their perspectives, letting the narrative unfold on both sides. I was able to delight in understanding how each appraised the situations they found themselves in. Admittedly, I was waiting impatiently for Albert to show up, but Goodwin did an excellent job bringing him into the complicated world of Victoria’s life and having the two interact.
Another positive note for me is that the romance was downplayed. The relationship between Melbourne and Victoria might have had its undertones of a more intimate potential, but it was never realized, never overtly forced on the reader. The subtlety of the novel was something to delight in, even when it came to Victoria and Albert’s conversations.
At its heart, it is a story devoted to Victoria, a girl forced at once to become a woman and a queen. It is a story of growth. The characters are fully formed and develop over the course of the narrative. They are flawed individuals who affected our past and through a fictional form, Goodwin allows us to appreciate them a bit better in our present.
I am excited now to watch the tv series that accompanies it and hope that a sequel may be in the works!
Historical fiction done right, Victoria is an enchanting read which draws the reader into the 19th century and the early life of one of Britain’s most renown monarchs.
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,