From the creator of the popular ITV drama starring Jenna Coleman and Rufus Sewell, Victoria is a standalone novel by Daisy Goodwin.
It’s June 1837, and following the death of her uncle William IV, 18-year-old Alexandrina Victoria has become Queen of England. Up until now, her existence has been privileged but extremely sheltered – her dolls are her only friends. Desperate to escape the controlling clutches of her mother and calculating Sir John Conway, she is determined to rule alone, however the crown is literally and metaphorically a heavy burden and her naivety and immaturity is evident.
“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”
Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”
With many plotting her downfall, Prime Minister Lord Melbourne becomes Victoria’s most trusted supporter. Although old enough to be her father, she turns to him for advice, comfort and friendship, believing this is the only relationship she needs. As with all monarchs, the pressure to marry and secure an heir mounts, and her first cousin Albert is reluctantly pushed forward as a suitable candidate. However, Victoria is determined not to marry for convenience or let go of her beloved Lord M.
Having watched and loved the television series, to be honest I did wonder if it was necessary to read the novel. However, it is a must read – an engaging accompaniment to the programme, rich in historical detail which delves deeper into each fascinating character.
Daisy Goodwin’s young Victoria is immediately likeable – brave, strong-minded and expressive. Despite her naïve mistakes and initial giddiness, with the help of Lord M and then with Albert, she matures into a strong and resilient monarch and you root for her all the way through.
The relationship between Victoria and Lord Melbourne is captivating, and while a marriage would have been impossible, I was almost wishing history could have been re-written so that their relationship could be explored. Lord M himself shows great restraint over his feelings for Victoria and his commitment to the crown. The internal struggle between his feelings and his duties is played out in more detail in the novel, as is his jealously over the blossoming relationship between Victoria and Albert.
Victoria and Albert’s initially awkward relationship is charming and moving. With Albert, Victoria truly meets her match and their historically famous love story is brought to life with great passion and realism.
The book ends just as a new chapter of Queen Victoria’s life is about to begin, which paves the way perfectly for a sequel. Daisy Goodwin is currently writing the second series of the TV drama, so a second novel is bound to follow. Victoria is a historical delight.
Review copy supply by NetGalley
Published by Headline Publishing Group