VICTORIA – Daisy Goodwin
A Perfect 10
St. Martin's Press
England – 1837
Shortly after turning eighteen, Alexandrina Victoria is awakened in the early morning with the news that her uncle, King William IV, has passed away. For most of her life, Victoria (as she chooses to be called) has known that she will be Queen of England, but it isn't until reality sets in that she understands the implications. Her mother and her mother's close friend, Sir John Conroy have kept Drina (as they call her) sheltered from the world, even having Victoria sleep in her mother's room. Unfortunately for them, one of the first things Victoria does as queen is to move to her own bedroom, and she makes it explicitly clear that no one is going to force her to do anything she doesn't want to do.
Victoria is unprepared for the initial responsibilities of her new role. At first, she feels she can just jump right in with no help from anyone, but when the “red boxes” arrive, filled with state and crown duties, Victoria realizes that advice and assistance are needed. Pushing away her prime minister at first, she finally summons him to her side and is pleasantly surprised to discover that he is not going to bully her or coerce her into doing everything his way, but he allows her to think through decisions, with his input.
William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne, is Victoria's Prime Minister. A widower, and one who is rumored to be a womanizer, he is, nevertheless, devoted to his country, and he wants to see Victoria succeed. Guiding an independent young woman is new to him, however, and he finds he must be careful to also distance himself from her. But soon it becomes clear to all who surround the queen that she is perhaps leaning too much on her prime minister.
And then there is the marriage issue for Victoria. Her mother and her uncle, the King of Belgium, are seriously pushing her towards her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. But the only memory Victoria has of Albert, whom she met three years before, is that he was not very outgoing, and was boring. Besides, with her new found freedom, Victoria isn't ready for marriage.
VICTORIA is set during the queen's first year or so of her reign. Despite her sheltered life, once she becomes queen she is determined not to allow her mother and Sir Conroy to dictate to her. She trusts Melbourne completely, and her feelings for him grow, so that when it is necessary for her to accept another prime minister, Victoria rebels.
This excellent novel was written by the writer/creator of the upcoming Masterpiece PBS series, also entitled VICTORIA. Based on the queen's actual correspondence, the research is impeccable, and the characters are beautifully presented. I highly recommend reading the book before the series starts. VICTORIA is a Perfect 10 from page one.