Review: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

4 Stars

Most people associate Queen Victoria in her later years.  A portrait of a serious woman dressed in black, endlessly mourning the loss of her beloved husband.  Most people forget that Queen Victoria ascended to the throne less than a month after her eighteenth birthday.  She came to the throne as a time when most women were more preoccupied on who they were going to marry and learning how to run a household.  This young woman was learning how to govern an empire.  Queen Victoria was small in stature, quiet in voice and had lived a life of seclusion with her mother, far removed from the court and its drama.

Victoria was known by another name to her family.  A hated nickname.  Drina, which was short for her given name, Alexandrina.  She felt she had been kept under the thumb of her mother and Sir John Conroy, her mother’s counsellor.  She had been smothered and hidden away from the world and now that she was Queen, she was now able to be independent for the first time in eighteen years.  She went so far as to move from Kensington Palace to Buckingham House and give her mother apartments as far away from her own as she possibly could.  Much to the chagrin of Sir John Conroy, the young Queen refused to give him a position of power and influence.

Victoria comes to rely on the advice and guidance of her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne.  She affectionately refers to him as Lord M.  They have to whether many storms together, including scandals that threaten to rock the very foundation of the Monarchy and give those who would rather see a Regent in power than a young Queen more fuel for their ambitious fires.  You watch as Victoria gives her heart away for the first time and the possible scandal that can arise when you love the wrong person.

This version of Victoria is hard for many to read because we are used to the Queen Victoria after she marries the love of her life and after she is already on her way to being one of the most beloved monarchs in the history of Great Brittan.  The author used historical documents, including Queen Victoria’s journals, while researching for this novel.  So the picture that we have of Queen Victoria is that of a young woman, alone for the first time in her life and facing an almost impossible challenge.  You’re led through the ups and downs of the first years of her very long reign and a glimpse into the mind of the woman who would become one of the longest reigning monarchs in English history.  If you can set aside the vision of Queen Victoria that you know from your school history books and the images of her on stamps and coins and just imagine that woman as a young girl, a very young Queen…you will ultimately enjoy this book.

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