To be a King is extra-ordinary. To be a Queen is extra-extra-ordinary.
Queen Victoria ruled from 1837 until 1901. When we picture her, we see a stern, moral and regal monarch who knows who she is and her place in the world.
But before she was that Victoria, she was another Victoria. She was young, impressionable, a bit naive, a bit temperamental, but she also knew her destiny. Daisy Goodwin’s new novel, Victoria, takes the reader back to 1837. A short time after her 18th birthday, a messenger from Buckingham Palace has arrived. Her uncle, the King is dead and she is now Queen. The first thing she does is break the shackles that her widowed mother, The Duchess Of Kent and her mother’s adviser, Sir John Conroy have kept her in.
Victoria finds an ally in Lord Melbourne, but many fear that he has a Svengali like hold on the young Queen. Given her age, her previously sheltered life and her lack of experience, there are concerns that Victoria may be too blind with the first blush of infatuation to see Melbourne as others do. Enter her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Their relationship is destined to be one of the most romantic relationships of the ages. But before the happily ever after can commence, Victoria’s dislike of her cousin has to turn into love.
I have been eagerly waiting for this book for months. The wait was well worth it. Writing fiction is a difficult endeavor to begin with. But to write historical fiction about real people who are still in the public consciousness, whether living or dead is a herculean task. The thing that grounds the book and the characterization of Queen Victoria is that at that stage of her life, she was an 18 year girl. Yes, she was also a Queen, but she was also 18, growing up and unfortunately, as we all do at that age, making painful mistakes along the way.
I absolutely recommend it.
P.S. My review of the first episode of the television series Victoria is up. It will be airing on PBS early next year and it is good.