Drawing on Queen Victoria's diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwincreator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunterbrings 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.
Kensington Palace, June 20th, 1837
When she opened her eyes, Victoria saw a faint sliver of light coming through the shutters. She could hear her mother breathing in the big bed on the other side of the room. But not for much longer. Soon, Victoria thought, she would have her own bedroom. Soon she would be able to walk down the stairs without holding Lehzen's hand; soon she would be able to do whatever she pleased. She had celebrated her eighteenth birthday last month, so when the moment came, she would reign alone.
Dash lifted his head and then Victoria heard her governess's quick footsteps. If Lehzen was coming now, it could only mean one thing. She got out of bed and went to the door, opening it just as Lehzen was putting out her hand to knock. The Baroness looked so comical standing there with her hand outstretched that Victoria started to giggle, but checked herself as she saw the expression on her governess's face.
"The messenger from Windsor is ...
Some of the recent comments posted about Victoria. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
Are there any modern-day world leaders you would compare to the young Victoria?
Hillary is one. She is fiercely independent - she did not take the Clinton as her last name until Bill Clinton was about to be president. But she still kept her maiden name - She is Hillary Rodham Clinton - joanw
How did Victoria's sheltered upbringing at Kensington Palace influence her ultimate ability to rule her country?
I think that her upbringing made her not trained in the ways of the government and made it more difficult for her to rule at first. While I do actually think her mother may have felt she was acting in Victoria's best interest, I think that Conroy ... - Rebecca L.
How do you feel about Lord Melbourne? What might Victoria's life have been like if she had chosen him over Albert?
I think Lord Melbourne was an amazing mentor to Victoria and helped her in so many ways. Without his help, she would not have been able to step into the leadership role so quickly. She may have allowed her mother to interfere more with affairs. I do ... - ColoradoGirl
How do you see the role of women in general – and Queen Victoria in particular – in the course of the novel?
Despite the fact that Victoria was held in high regard as a sovereign, the overtones of patriarchy were still present in the interaction between the Crown and Government. - lbellg
How does Victoria handle her rise to power at the age of eighteen? How do you think you might have handled it? If you have children of your own, how do you think they would have handled that kind of power?
My reasoning: Because there wasn't a long childhood in the earlier 1800s, the maturity required to become an adult resulted before the usual time of the last few generations. So it seems to me that having been groomed with her status as a potential ... - Suzanne
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