In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.
One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….
After having a full run in the UK “Victoria” has premiered in the US on PBS. Eight episodes about the life of the young queen from coronation to her first child. When I found that the writer for the show was also publishing a book, I had high hopes. While it was quite well written, I found it to be more of a novelization of the show rather than a more in depth look at Victoria’s beginnings. With 404 pages to work with, it seemed a surprise to me that as readers we only just get to the proposal instead of any depth or any real measure of conflict.
Author Daisy Goodwin obviously did quite a bit of research into Queen Victoria’s diaries and the lives of people around her. Her work on the show and her writing style are very well done and I really enjoyed watching the series. I simply felt disappointed that this was more of a companion piece or a teaser for the show rather than a stand alone novel. I would recommend this for people who are torn between watching the show or not. If you enjoy the book, you will love the show. It also is good for people who don’t often get into historical fiction to wet their whistles. I have a couple of Goodwin’s other books on my TBR list and hopefully I will find one that better suits my tastes.
DAISY GOODWIN, a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University, is a leading television producer in the U.K. Her poetry anthologies, including 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life, have introduced many new readers to the pleasures of poetry, and she was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. That was the year she published her first novel the American Heiress ( My Last Duchess in UK) , followed by The Fortune Hunter and now Victoria. She has also created VICTORIA the PBS/ITV series which starts in January. She has three dogs, two dogs, and one husband.
Freelance Editor & Reviewer