First Lines: I hate Sir John Conroy. Mamma knew that I was never fond of him, though she did not suspect how much I despised him.
This is one of those rare books that I found in the library without having any prior knowledge about. What happened was a little old volunteer at the library (who, bless her heart, just could not seem to figure out how alphabetical order worked…or which side of the book was “up”) was trying to put the books away I had just returned. So she was blocking the aisle. And I happened to see this, and I knew it had to be about Queen Victoria, who has become one of my favorite queens after seeing The Young Victoria. So I had to grab it.
Based on actual journals kept by the young princess, this is the story of Victoria as a young child. It was a time of massive changes for England, from agricultural demands to manufacturing jobs. In a time when few women had any kind of political power, Victoria was being trained to lead a country. Chronicling her from ages 9-24, we follow Victoria through her teenage years as she fights back against Sir John Conroy, against the “helpful” advise from her relatives who had an interest in her rule, and against stereotypes about women.
Honestly, when I picked this up, I had no idea it would start when she was so young. I figured this would all be a love story between her and Albert, like the movie is. It wasn’t. That was a bit disappointing, but it was still a pretty good read. Just kind of slow because most of the action is intellectual instead of physical. Like when you see people trying to move Victoria like she’s a chess piece on a board. And I certainly learned things about her I didn’t know, like how she had step-siblings. I had no idea. And I had no idea there were so many illegitimate children floating around.
Anyway, it was still interesting from a historical standpoint. But it was kind of annoying to read too. Victoria would all always say how she was VERY MUCH amused by a certain person in all caps like that. Or she’d underline a bunch of words that she wanted to emphasis. You get used to it eventually, but it’s annoying at first. Apparently, that’s exactly how Victoria wrote her journals.
And unfortunately for a romantic like me, the Albert years are kind of glossed over. They’re there, but it wasn’t the epic love story I was hoping for.
Overall, it’s a very factual read that could have used a little more excitement.