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Romance in the Kingdom
I love Historical Fiction, so I was eager to read this story of the young Queen Victoria. I had seen the movie “Young Victoria” a few years ago and really enjoyed it. The first few chapters of this book reminded me very much of the movie.
Laurie C. (Nashua, NH)
Ms. Goodwin’s descriptions brought the story to life for me. I found myself getting frustrated with Victoria as she was quite childish. How difficult it must have been to see that Victoria was, at times, not mature enough for the responsibilities placed upon her, but to be unable to do or say anything because, after all, she was the Queen.
You may wonder then why I gave the book only three stars. If it were categorized as Historical Romance I would give it four stars, but as Historical Fiction it only gets three stars. The book really says very little about what responsibilities Victoria actually had. The entire book is Victoria mooning over Lord Melbourne. (I can see why as he, being much older, showed the maturity needed for a proper Prime Minister. He was also the only one that seemed able to carefully direct Victoria to the proper decisions or behaviors.) Then when Albert does come along it is like a Harlequin story – they hate each other and then after some time suddenly discover they can’t live without each other.
So, if you want romance it is a good read. But if you want to learn historical information regarding Queen Victoria you might look elsewhere.
Daisy Goodwin's historical novel, Victoria, tells a compelling story of Queen Victoria who takes the throne at eighteen years of age. The novel details not only the struggle the young queen faces with managing the precipice between adolescence and adulthood but also the naiveté and inexperience she has about duty, politics, and trust. Portrayed at the beginning of the novel as stubborn, a bit reckless and unprepared for her duties, I found my interest in the novel increasing as the Queen learns the complexities of ruling through making mistakes and becoming more politically aware. At forty years older than Queen Victoria, Lord Melborne's character, was equally well fleshed out. The relationship between the queen and the Prime Minister was effectively conveyed through the various historical events that occurred during these first few years. The juxtaposition in age, as told through both characters perspectives, added to the complexity. Ms. Goodwin's focus on dialogue, along with historical events made this a wonderful, delightful read. The novel also piqued my interest in reading more about Queen Victoria's reign.
Beth M. (Medfield, MA)
Victoria as a young queen
It was fun to read about Victoria's beginnings, and to see and feel what it may have been like to be in her position, raised so protectively and then suddenly thrust into such a public role at such a young age. I appreciated the extremes inherent in the situation of being a young girl coming of age subject to the normal feelings a young girl experiences, while at the same time expected to act with the wisdom, grace and dignity befitting a monarch.
Mary D. (Claremont, CA)
VICTORIA by Daisy Goodwin
I especially liked the portrayal of Victoria's Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. I found him to be the most fully developed and satisfying character in the book.
I liked the second half of the book more than the first. I felt it contained more humor in the situations and characters' responses, which I enjoyed very much.
I found this to be a fairly light read compared to many of the other historical fiction novels I have read, but definitely fun and enjoyable with a satisfying ending.
I love history, and I appreciate good historical fiction. However, I must admit that I was disappointed by Daisy Goodwin's VICTORIA. It is very well written, very easy to read and arranged in such a way that you could read it in short chunks. I was hoping for more history, more perspective about the times, about Victoria ascending the throne as a very young woman. To me, this book almost bordered on an exceptional 'young adult' romance novel, with little bits of historical references thrown in. Perhaps the author was assuming that there has been plenty written about the workings and protocols of the English court, but I personally would have enjoyed more of this, while still incorporating the deep personal relationships between Victoria, her family, her Prime Minister and ladies-in-waiting. For me, more depth and history (perhaps using quotes from letters, notes, etc.) would have been appreciated and enjoyed.
Erica M. (Chicago, IL)
A queen's growth from childhood to adulthood
This is the story of the first two years of Queen Victoria's reign starting as a sheltered 18-year-old and ending with her clearly on the verge of adulthood two years later. Godwin drew a good balance between the person she wanted to be and the monarch that she needed - and was expected - to be. There were many (especially men) who thought her incapable of handling the rigors of the monarchy and tried to influence her as well as trying to marginalize her. Her ability to stand up to those men, as well as her mother, was inspirational. A truly enjoyable book.
Deanna W. (Port Jefferson, NY)
Novel or TV Show ?
This book provides excellent context for the PBS Masterpiece Theater presentation coming in January. However, as a stand alone novel, I feel it had some short comings. Too much time was spent on her very early years. It dragged in places and was some what repetitive. I learned new information about The Bedchamber Crisis, John Conroy and Lord Melbourne. The book ends in 1839 when Victoria fell in love with her cousin, Prince Albert. Perhaps more pages on the early years of their marriage...or is that saved for the next book or season 2 of the TV show?
Liz D. (East Falmouth, MA)
I am a avid reader of historical fiction. I found Victoria by Daisy Goodwin to be a most engaging read. The book brought to life the mid-19th century customs and politics in a most lively and entertaining way. The reader becomes acquainted with the naïve 18 year old Victoria as she ascends the English throne where she will reign as Queen for many years. The book gives insights into her relationships and difficulties with her mother, her Prime Minister and her future husband Prince Albert.
Jody P. (Mount Pleasant, WI)
We are witness to the growth of a young shy girl into a strong and steady ruler. These narratives give the book its lively fresh qualitythat holds the readers interest. Victoria leaves the reader longing to know the rest of the story. A good quality for a book. I look forward to the upcoming Masterpiece Drama.
This is the first book I've read by Daisy Goodwin and it won't be the last. The author brings Victoria to life. I would have enjoyed having tea with the Queen! I spent time disliking and liking the Queen Mom which I'm sure was the author's intent. The relationship Victoria enjoyed with the Prime Minister was most interesting. It was a great story to get lost in and I hope there is a sequel. I host book club in November which is too soon to pick this book. Darn!