I couldn’t resist reading Victoria, the novel by Daisy Goodwin. It follows Queen Victoria beginning in 1838, when she becomes Queen of England a month into her 18th year, taking us through her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert in 1840. Goodwin was commissioned to make a TV series about the life of Victoria and I tuned into the first episode now airing on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre. I wanted more and I got exactly what I wanted.
Historical fiction must work on two levels, factual integrity and breathing life into the story. During her days at Cambridge, Goodwin began reading Victoria’s diaries, some 62 million words the future queen began writing at age 12. Goodwin fully realizes and brings to the page the nature of the woman and how she went from an impetuous teenager to Queen.
Goodwin’s Victoria, true to fact, depicts a woman with human appetites and passions. She was a woman who, standing 4’11” could be underestimated by those around her. Despite being cloistered in Kensington during her early years, she watched and prepared for the moment she took the throne. She befriended Lord Melbourne and installed a trusted staff, even as her mother and Lord John worked to squelch her intention to lead at every opportunity.
Victoria, a sort of playbook to the TV series, reads at times like a film script, but not enough to take away from this well crafted portrayal of the most influential woman of the 19th century.
Sarah's review first appeared on 89.1 KMUW. You can listen to the review HERE.— Sarah Bagby
"Victoria is an absolutely captivating novel of youth, love, and the often painful transition from immaturity to adulthood. Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit."
- AMANDA FOREMAN
Drawing on Queen Victoria's diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin--creator and writer of the new PBS Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter--brings 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.
About the Author
DAISY GOODWIN is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter. She is a Harkness Scholar who attended Columbia University's film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University, and was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. The creator and screenwriter of the Masterpiece presentation Victoria on PBS, she lives in London.