Spoiler free | Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars | Read: 9 May – 13 May, 2018
I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of the ITV show Victoria. By chance, I stumbled across this book when browsing the web. I purchased it immediately when I realised that Daisy Goodwin, who wrote the script for the show, novelised the first four episodes. The novel is primarily concerned with Victoria’s ascension to the throne, how she copes with the pressures of being Queen at eighteen, and the types of relationships she experiences (with her mother, with Lord Melbourne, and with Prince Albert, for example). Whereas the show also brings to life the servants and maids of the Palace, the novel is strictly concerned with Victoria (and rightly so).
My favourite thing about Victoria was the characterisation. As I already watched the show, I knew I could trust Goodwin when it came to bringing some of my favourite characters to life. It’s obvious that she has done a lot of research, especially when it comes to Victoria (who, by the way, has the best characterisation of all). She is everything you would expect an eighteen year old to be: fickle, passionate, and inexperienced. However, she is also everything you would expect a queen to be: professional, serene, and dutiful. I liked how Goodwin depicted both sides of Victoria, showing the readers that she is an ordinary person who has had a massive weight placed on her shoulders.
In addition to this, I love how detailed the plot is. Realistically, Goodwin could have condensed the entire show (eight episodes) into one novel, but instead she focused the attention on Victoria’s initial ascension. It had an ungodly amount of detail, but it was the right kind of detail. Goodwin explored how Victoria, at the age of eighteen, coped with becoming queen. During this time, she grew apart from her mother, had an intense relationship with Lord Melbourne, dealt with state affairs, and was hounded by people to find a husband. The initial few years of her ruling was rich with struggle, and this made me love Victoria. Without this struggle, and this level of detail, I don’t think I would have liked Victoria that much. I witnessed her hardships, and struggled alongside with her. It was like I knew her personally, if you get me.
Unfortunately, the one thing that disappointed me about Victoria comes hand-in-hand with the level of detail that I praise so highly, and that is the lack of Prince Albert. He is my favourite thing about the whole show/novel, so I noticed his absence may a little too much. It was like I was missing my arm or something. Out of 450 pages, he made an appearance for roughly 100 of them, which, by my standard, wasn’t enough. I think the show does a fantastic job at capturing their relationship, including the passion they have for one another, the struggle that comes with being married to royalty, and the way they overcome all obstacles, but this lacked from the novel. It would have been such a joy to read.
QUESTION: why hasn’t Goodwin carried on novelising the show? I want more Albert, and more Victoria and Albert, and, you know, more ALBERT.
Overall, this was a lovely read. I have noticed that a lot of people term it as ‘a coming-of-age story but with royalty’, and they’re so right. The character development was flawless, and the plot ran smoothly. I really don’t have anything to fault about this book (except, you know, the severe lack of Prince Albert). It was written beautifully, both in language and imagery. I think Goodwin did a brilliant job at capturing Queen Victoria in her youth, and didn’t shy away from the unromantic aspects of her life. It was painted in all its glory. I would definitely recommend, especially if you’re a fan of the show or of the Victorian period.
Have you read the book, or watched the show? What do you think of it? I’d love to read your thoughts!
Thanks for reading, Lauren X