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?
Queen Elizabeth when she first became Queen. I think Churchill probably helped her in her new role. She was better educated for the role then Victoria. I think Edward's rebellion made Elizabeth react the opposite way. Seeing the harm her rebel Uncle ... - karenrn
How did Victoria's sheltered upbringing at Kensington Palace influence her ultimate ability to rule her country?
I do believe her upbringing made her ready to accept the life of Royalty, and she had the basics of what it meant to be Queen. She was being groomed by her mother and Conroy. The average person off the street would have no idea of courtly manners and... - paml
How do you feel about Lord Melbourne? What might Victoria's life have been like if she had chosen him over Albert?
I liked Lord M very much. He was true to himself, to his country and to his monarch. He gave Victoria support and knowledge when she needed it most. Without him, she may not have developed into the successful monarch that she became. - dorinned
How do you see the role of women in general – and Queen Victoria in particular – in the course of the novel?
I am sure there was much more to Victoria becoming queen and being able to hold her own than this novel suggests. I believe as a woman she did not receive the education she may have needed to fill her role as a man would have, but that she was ... - Navy Mom
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?
Having a royal heritage undoubtedly was instrumental in Victoria's ability to assume the power of the throne at her young age. By the same token, a U.S. teen would be completely unsuited to such a role, with no knowledge of the "rules of conduct" ... - dorinned
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