ARC Review | Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Historical fiction at its best. 4.5/5 stars.


Thank you to St Martin’s Press and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book for review.

Victoria will be published on 22nd November.

The blurb: 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…

My take:

I requested this ARC from NetGalley because I’d watched and thoroughly enjoyed the TV version which was recently shown on ITV here in the UK. I liked the characterisation of the historical figures and was particularly gripped by Victoria’s relationships with the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, and Prince Albert.

Daisy Goodwin wrote this novel at the same time as writing the TV script and, as you might expect, they are very similar. If you have already watched the TV version, don’t read this expecting any surprises!

That said, I enjoyed the book even more than the TV version. For starters, there were no distracting side plots involving the servants. While I didn’t dislike the insights the TV version gave us into life below stairs, I didn’t think they added anything we needed to know. And obviously the novel gives us additional access to the thoughts and feelings of the characters that no screen adaptation can give. The writing is superb. It’s smooth, accessible and captures both the more and less glamorous aspects of monarchy brilliantly.

My only gripe was that while the TV series took us up to the birth of Victoria’s first child, the book ended much earlier, with her engagement. I was so disappointed it was over! I can only hope Daisy Goodwin has already been commissioned to write another book and series.

Overall: Historical fiction at its best. A must for anyone who enjoyed the recent TV series.

P.S. Good news for those of you in the US (and you might feel in need of some right now): Victoria will premier 15 January 2017 on PBS. It’s brilliant television. Please watch it!

Claire Huston / Art and Soul

29 thoughts on “ARC Review | Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

  1. Great review! I’m anxious for this book to come out! I love English history and this one looks good! If you liked the tv show, you might enjoy Victoria & Albert, a BBC miniseries with Victoria Hamilton and Jonathan Forth. It covers her life from the beginning of her reign to the very end.


  2. I am so excited for this book now! I’m waiting to see if I’ll get a copy from NetGalley, but I really really hope I do now!
    I loved the Young Victoria movie and have been eagerly waiting to watch the new TV series 🙂
    Fantasy is my favourite genre, but when historical fiction is done right it is a very close second!
    Thanks for a great review, Claire!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! I also got this ARC on NetGalley, and sadly, I didn’t really like it. I haven’t seen the series yet, it doesn’t air in the US until January, so maybe that has something to do with it.
    While I loved all of the historical information given, I just could not connect to Victoria, and I felt the book ended far too abruptly. I wanted a little bit more, and I’m hoping that the show gives me that “extra” that I felt the book was lacking. I am looking forward to watching the show – I’m going into it thinking that I’ll like the show better.
    My review will post next week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂
      I think seeing the show first may have helped because Jenna Coleman does a good job in making Victoria sympathetic rather than just coming over as a bit of a spoilt brat! Also the TV series gives you more of her relationship with Albert (you get the wedding and a bit after) so I think you’ll like it more than the book 🙂 I was also disappointed with where the book left things.
      I’ll look out for your review!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was watching the 6th episode of Victoria during lunch today! 🙂 I was so sad to see Lord M go, but that was just my Oeudipian syndrome, haha. I really enjoy the show but I’m curious about how the book might give more details about the characters’ thoughts and feelings. I’m definitely reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

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