I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley
Release date: May 8th, 2018
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Middle grade, historical fiction
By turns thrilling, dramatic, and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria’s childhood as you’ve never heard it before.
Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Her father is Sir John Conroy, confidant and financial advisor to Victoria’s mother, and he has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess that he calls the Kensington System. It governs Princess Victoria’s behavior and keeps her locked away from the world. Sir John says it’s for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it’s to keep her lonely and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the willful and passionate princess, Miss V has a decision to make: continue in silence or speak out. In an engaging, immersive tale, Lucy Worsley spins one of England’s best-known periods into a fresh and surprising story that will delight both young readers of historical fiction and fans of the television show featuring Victoria.
I love Lucy Worsely’s documentaries on British history. She’s such an engaging speaker and I devour them whenever I can find them online (I wish I lived in the UK so I could actually watch them when they air on TV). So, I jumped at the chance to review her middle grade novel My Name is Victoria when it was posted on NetGalley.
My Name is Victoria tells the story of a young Queen Victoria and what her life was like living in seclusion in Kensington Palace. The young princesses’ life is highly controlled by which makes her feel sad and lonely. Her life changes when she meets Miss V. Conroy, another girl around the same age as her. Things get off to a rocky start, but soon they are close and inseparable companions. While much of the book is historically accurate, it does deviate to a “what if” plot that allowed the author to take a different route and get creative. I thought it was interesting and it totally took me by surprise. I thought the book would be a straight up review of history due to the author’s academic background. I do have to say that I liked it! It kept things interesting!
What I enjoyed most about the book was seeing Victoria as a young girl. Every movie or TV show that I’ve seen has been based on her life once she’s ascended to the throne. At first I honestly had a difficult time imagining her as a young girl but it got easier as her story was unveiled. I totally felt for her, how could I not? I can’t imagine being so restricted, overly guarded and unhappy all of the time. I thought the story was well paced and interesting, although not much really happens. It’s just Victoria’s life and her budding friendship with Miss V. in the palace. So, while the setting doesn’t change a lot, the focus and drama of the book is created through the relationship between the two girls. I thought their friendship developed naturally. They initially weren’t sure what to do with each other, but as time went on, they became close as sisters…loyal and willing to put their own needs aside for each other.
Overall, this book was a fun, quick read with a twist. I think this book is great for middle grade readers and especially those interested in historical fiction. I will definitely be picking up Worsely’s other books in the near future!
About the Author
Lucy Worsley was born in Reading, studied Ancient and Modern History at New College, Oxford, and received a PhD in art history from the University of Sussex. Since 2003, she has been the Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. She has written a non-fiction book for adults called Jane Austen at Home, and a novel for younger readers called My Name is Victoria. Her latest BBC series is Lucy Worsley’s Nights at the Opera.