“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”
I have a small problem I will not admit out loud with being fascinated with British royalty. Especially Elizabeth I, but Victoria is right up there too. This probably started when, as a child, my mother dragged us out of bed at 5:00 in the morning to watch Diana marry Charles. I’m sure I cared nothing about this until I saw her dress, and then I was hooked. There is just something about it – as anachronistic as it is – that interests me. Especially now when we could literally be on the brink of destroying America, books and movies about governing are enthralling me.
Victoria, by Daisy Goodwin, is a new novel set in 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, when Alexandrina Victoria became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. I got an advanced copy, thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley, of the story that will be published in late November. If this story sounds familiar, you may have seen the PBS/Masterpiece Theatre movie, which was also written by Goodwin. They are very similar, but that did nothing to dampen my enjoyment of the book.
One of the interesting things about Queen Victoria is that she spent her entire childhood out of the royal spotlight. This may have been a device used to try to give her a ‘normal’ life, but it is probably more likely that her mother and her mother’s terrible boyfriend were trying to control her every move. Their hope was that William IV would die well before Victoria was eighteen, which would put them in the position of Regents. What this actually did, since the King managed to hang on until she was very close, was to make her completely unprepared to be queen.
Luckily, the minute she was told of the King’s death, Victoria surprised everyone and actually insisted on acting like one. She separated herself away from her mother and learned everything she could in as short a time as possible. This doesn’t mean that she wasn’t also just an eighteen-year-old girl sometimes, and I enjoyed how these swings were written. The story spends a lot of time on her relationship with Lord Melbourne, who became Victoria’s private secretary in addition to being a minister. He is in every way adorable and I loved him almost as much as she did.
The story takes place from the time that she learns she is to be Queen, through to her engagement to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. I think it’s entirely possible that you do not have to be an Anglophile to love this book.
Grade – B+