Written by Daisy Goodwin
Review by Arleigh Johnson

The early reign of Great Britain’s Queen Victoria is recounted in this multi-view narrative replete with rich characterization and political intrigue. Among George III’s prolific progeny, Princess Alexandrina, as his fourth son’s only child, was the heir presumptive to the throne—much to her uncle Cumberland’s disgust. She spent an unhappy childhood guarded in the depths of Kensington Palace, where she was under the thumb of her overbearing mother and the vile John Conroy, a self-serving comptroller of the household.

When she ascended the throne, blessedly of an age to reign without a regent, she shed the hated nickname, Drina, and embraced the mantle of Queen Victoria. Strong-willed and ever ready to defy her mother and Conroy, she chose to align herself with the country’s somewhat scandalous Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, whose hold on the Whig government was at the time precarious. Victoria became dependent on her Lord M over the next year, and when pressed to marry her Coburg cousin, Albert, was reluctant to entertain the idea of transferring her power—not to mention her newly found affections.

This is an interesting look at a young monarch unsure of herself, yet too stubborn to accept advice at times. The reader at once admires her determination and cringes at some of her rather ill-informed decisions. Lord Melbourne is a true anti-hero, being the supposed defeated and aging politician on his way out, but he is utterly charming in demeanor. Prince Albert, in this rendering, has few redeeming qualities, yet the reader knows from history that Victoria chose him and was genuinely happy. How the scenario of mentor versus love interest plays out is the author’s unique concept, and it is accomplished with deft characterization and an easy flowing storyline. It is highly recommended for readers of royalty fiction.