I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Published by St. Martin's Press on November 22nd 2016
Source: Hardback obtained from Publisher, Libro.fm
“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”
Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”
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….
Drawing on Victoria’s diaries 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 even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.
I love audio books. In the author’s notes on the audio version of Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, he talks about how the first stories we learn are read to us. I listen to audio books when I’m in the car, shopping, and playing Candy Crush Soda Saga or Trivia Crack.
In typical book blogger fashion, I already have a tbr shelf just for audio books. Reviewing them is a bit more difficult, because I don’t take notes and I don’t always know how to spell the characters names. So these reviews will be a little different from my book reviews.
*I received this book in hardback from the publishers, and in audio format from the awesome team at Libro fm, but I listened to it and just took pics of the stunning book cover.
There might be spoilers ahead… but only if you know absolutely zero about history and Queen Victoria and prefer to be completely surprised by the book.
I have to be honest, I haven’t read many books about Queen Victoria- usually she shows up as a supporting character in a Steampunk book I’m reading, so I quite liked hearing her story, although I knew some of it, I didn’t necessarily connect it to her.
Being crowned at such a young age, especially in a time where female leadership was still (hmm, kind of like it is today) considered shocking, and for SOME people, unnatural (hmm, kind of like it is today). I loved the relationship between Victoria and her Lord M, and I was sad that so much separated them but as she was so young and so naive in the ways of love, it’s probably a good thing (it’s also a good thing I wasn’t ever Queen, because I would make it a royal decree anytime there was someone I wanted to date). I liked Albert’s seriousness, and it seems that theirs was a happy marriage. Sometimes the person we fall in love with isn’t the person who makes us laugh or flatters us, but rather the person that makes us think and helps us be the best version of ourselves that we can be (thankfully, the Hubs makes me laugh, makes me feel special, and makes me a better person, so really, you can have it all- and he also buys me books and builds me bookshelves, although he won’t wear tight military pants like Prince Albert did, so by “have it all” I mean you can have most of it unless your husband refuses to wear tight paints that mold to his thighs).
I liked that the author included Victoria’s flaws and early mis-steps, especially in the case of Lady Flora. Her relationship with her mother was strained, but the reasons behind it were understandable, especially for a young woman kept away from society so long and then suddenly having all that power (even if it was mostly as a figure head).
How accurate is the book? Eh, Goodwin obviously takes a poetic license. Lord Melbourne and Victoria had more of a father/daughter affection, but in the book he seems quite dashing and handsome, and not the old, overweight man prone to falling asleep in public. So while a particular scene in the book most likely didn’t happen, it’s important to know that Queen Victoria’s diaries were heavily edited by her daughter Beatrice, so any swooning over Lord M might have been tossed into the fire. Also, the book is historical fiction, so I don’t hold it to the same standard that I would a history book.
Also, this book makes me glad to have never been a queen or a politician. How I hate all the intrigue and fakeness and the insane rules. No thank you! Not that anyone has suggested I run for office or implied that I might be the long lost princess of Genovia. I did once have a young man call me m’lady at a ren fair, so that kind of counts, right?
The only real downside to the book was that the ending felt a bit rushed, I would have liked a little epilogue that summarized Queen V’s reign, her marriage, her many, many kids. But it’s a pretty small complaint.
Things I loved the most: Victoria making the name Victoria happen (I loved the name as a child because of the soap opera, Another World), Dash (who I am just going to assume is immortal and still in the care of the royal family), the hairstyles, Lord M’s wife’s tragic love affair with Lord Byron (allegedly she’s the one who coined the phrase “bad, mad, and dangerous to know”, which was also used to describe hunky Dylan from Beverly Hills, 90210), and I wasn’t even too grossed out that Albert was Victoria’s first cousin.
Last night the mini-series for Victoria (yes, based on this book!) aired. I dvred it to watch later because I hate watching things at specific times because it feels like a kind of pressure (see what a bad Queen I’d make?!). Let me know if you watched it or read the book.
The book is narrated by Anna Wilson-Jones, and as far as I know this is the only book she’s narrated. She is an actress, and on side note, she plays Lady Emma Portman in the mini-series. I quite liked her narration (especially how she said “Lord M” in dreamy tones- of course in my imagination, Lord Melbourne looked a lot like a blonde Rupert Everett). I thought she handled a large cast of characters of both sexes and several accents quite well- I always knew who was talking and it flowed wonderfully. I hope she gets into audiobook narration because I’d love to hear more of her in the future (and I can’t wait to see her on the small screen as Emma Portman!).