Excerpt from Victoria by Daisy Goodwin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Victoria

by Daisy Goodwin

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin X
Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2016, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2017, 416 pages

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Victoria took a deep breath. "Thank you, Lehzen, but I can manage unaided."

Surprise and worry flickered in succession across the other woman's face.

"You know that your mother told me that I must always be there in case you are falling."

Victoria looked up at her. "I am quite capable of walking down the stairs without mishap."

Lehzen wanted to protest, but seeing the look in Victoria's eye, she subsided.

Victoria started down the steps and said, looking over her shoulder, "Things cannot be as they were, Lehzen. Now that I am Queen."

Lehzen stopped moving, her foot poised over the step, as if frozen in midair. Her words were slow and painful. "You will no longer be needing a governess, I suppose. Perhaps it is time that I went home to Hanover."

Victoria stretched out her hand, and her face softened. "Oh, Lehzen, I didn't mean that. I don't want you to go anywhere. Just because I choose to walk down the stairs by myself, that doesn't mean I don't want you by my side."

Lehzen took Victoria's hand, and the colour began to return to her face. "I never wish to leave you, Majesty. My only wish is to serve you."

"And you will, Lehzen. But I don't need you to help me down the stairs anymore." Victoria looked upstairs to where her mother slept on. "That part of my life is over."

Lehzen nodded her understanding.

"And you can tell the servants that I will be moving into Queen Mary's bedroom tonight. I think it is time that I had a room of my own, don't you?"

Lehzen smiled. "Yes, Majesty. I think a queen does not sleep on a cot next to her mother's bed."

*   *   *

At the foot of the stairs, she paused. The Archbishop and the Lord Chamberlain were behind the library door. She had been waiting for this moment for so long, and yet now it was upon her, she had to fight a sudden impulse to flee to the comfort of her schoolroom.

She had never been in a room alone with a man before, let alone an archbishop. Then she heard the clatter of Dash's paws as he came down the wooden staircase. He sat at her feet, looking up at her expectantly. He, at least, was ready for the adventure that lay ahead. Victoria swallowed her fear and walked towards the door. She was the queen now.

The two grey-haired old men bowed as she entered the library, and Victoria heard the sound of the Archbishop's knee cracking as he knelt to kiss her hand.

"I regret to inform you that your uncle, the King, passed away at two thirty-four this morning," the Archbishop said. "Queen Adelaide was at his side."

Victoria looked up at the two whiskery faces looming above her. "My poor dear uncle. May God have mercy on his soul."

Both men bent their heads. Victoria wondered what she should say next, but her thoughts were interrupted by the feeling of a small, rough tongue licking her foot. Dash was trying to get her attention. She bit her lip.

"The King's last wish was to commend Queen Adelaide to your care." The Lord Chamberlain looked down at Dash, and his eyelids flickered. Victoria knew that look, which she had seen many times before; it was the expression worn by a man who felt that what he was doing was beneath his dignity. His proper place, it said, was dealing with the mighty affairs of state, not pandering to a young girl and her dog.

Victoria pulled her shoulders back and stuck her chin in the air, trying to lift herself from four foot eleven inches to a full five feet—if only she had a few more inches. It was uncommonly hard to be regal when everyone could see the top of your head. But, she reminded herself, it didn't matter how tall she was. She thought for a moment and decided to use the phrase she had once heard her Uncle King utter, and had longed to use ever since.

"Thank you, Archbishop, Lord Chamberlain. You have my permission to withdraw."

Copyright © 2016 by Daisy Goodwin Productions

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