Author: Daisy Goodwin
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Summary: This was an interesting and well written story, but it was more of a romance than I expected and the writing wasn’t emotionally engaging enough for that.
“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.” (Source)
I was excited to learn more about this famous monarch and at the beginning of the book, I immediately admired her independence. However, as the book progressed, she began to seem more like a petty, stubborn little girl. She consistently put her own desires ahead of her (minimal) government responsibilities. The book also focused almost exclusively on Victoria’s romances. As minimal as her role in government was, I still would have liked to learn more about it! I can’t blame the author for these failings if that’s truly how Victoria acted and if her romances were really the major events in her life. However, I do think the author could have made Victoria more sympathetic or shown some character growth. I also didn’t find the romances she wrote particularly engaging or convincing.
The backstory we were given for Victoria wasn’t enough to make me understand some of her petty or unwise decisions. Her emotions were largely described based on her physical reaction – crying, etc – and I found it hard to connect to her for that reason as well. Neither of her connections with her romantic interests were particularly convincing. Her stubbornness and cruelty to her mother were overlooked by those who should have held her responsible and she never grew up.
Despite these major problems, I enjoyed reading this book. The writing was generally well done. The author brought the time period to life and made British government easy to understand. Even though I didn’t like Victoria, she had a definite personality. There were also some interesting and convincing non-romantic relationships, particularly Victoria with her mother and Albert with his brother. Overall, I think I would have enjoyed this book more had I gone in expecting a period romance, since it was reasonably successful in that regard. So, although this wasn’t my favorite, I definitely think it has an audience and I’m excited to be able to share with you an ARC from the publisher in the giveaway below.