Friday, November 18, 2016

7 Heart Review: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

This is an advertisement for SheSpeaks/St. Martins Press. I received a copy of Victoria for free.

Victoria
Daisy Goodwin

Page Count: 368

Release Date: November 22nd, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, SheSpeaks and St. Martin's Press!)
Rating♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin—creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter—brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.

Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.

Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.

“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”

Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.

On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.
You bet I had to match my nails to this stunning cover.

Most know her for her long-lived, powerful rule over Great Britain, but very few know her story outside of the monarchy. Victoria is a dazzling glimpse of Queen Victoria not only during her reign; rather, it covers the four-year timespan before she ever thought to ascend throne, to her first few years in.

There's a really interesting dynamic between the struggle for power that surrounds young Alexandrina (Victoria's birth name), as well as her hard-earned path to ascension. A great player in this is Lord Melbourne, Victoria's closest friend and confidante upon King William IV's death—unusual because he was 40 years her senior—who would go on to be a hugely successful mentor in Victoria's most critical years. Goodwin portrays him as a charismatic, hard-to-figure-out character, and I loved the ambiguous but wholly intriguing relationship between him and Victoria.

Victoria is also highly empowering; I loved reading about the obstacles she faced just for being a female ruler, and how she overcame them. Who would have thought, in 1837, that such a small girl, hardly a woman at eighteen, would end up ruling the world?

While well researched, this novel isn't bogged down with facts or a timeline of events that usually makes historical fiction difficult for me. It felt like a natural story, specifically about Victoria's development in her teenage years and early adulthood. It portrays the Queen in a relatable, human light—a perspective I've never seen before, and appreciate extremely. This is a very approachable account of the more intimate details of Victoria's life; Anglican history buffs and romance lovers alike will really enjoy this.


Pros


Story flows well and the ending is satisfying // Many points of rising action and tension // Well-fleshed characters: Victoria is easy to sympathize with and Lord Melbourne is fascinating // A great historical perspective of an endearing character

Cons


Some parts are melodramatic (not that they're overly dramatic, but the characters just act really scandalized over the smallest things) // I wish the subplot with Victoria's domineering mother had been more developed in the latter half of the book

Verdict


Less of an all-encompassing biopic and more of a glimmering coming-of-age story of one of the most powerful female rulers in history, Victoria is a historical drama that paints a vivid picture of the Queen's earliest, most transformative years. Daisy Goodwin is a natural storyteller; lovers of all things British Royalty will eat this book up. Equal parts political examination and budding romance, it left me thinking: What a beautiful novel. If you're curious about Queen Victoria as a person rather than just her political roles, go pick this up immediately. Americanflag

7 hearts: Not perfect, but overall enjoyable; would recommend, but borrow a copy before you buy! (x)