I recently finished reading Jean Plaidy’s The Captive of Kensington Palace, the first book in a series about Queen Victoria. I had previously read a book set in the Tudor era by that author, and didn’t like her style at all. Compared to Philippa Gregory or Anne O’Brien, she wasn’t making me feel anything.
But in this book, I really felt for the young princess, even though her whiny voice did get on my nerves a lot. But I actually think they must have used the whole series when writing the script for The Young Victoria, because many of the things happening were just too familiar.
The book tells of Princess Victoria’s childhood at Kensington Palace, constantly watched by her mother the Duchess of Kent, her mother’s ‘friend’ Sir John Conroy as well as her faithful nanny Baroness Lehzen. While Victoria tries to be as obedient as possible, she finds it hard to hold back her feelings and cannot understand why she has to be kept away from court or why her mother is constantly at war with the King.
The book spans over 10 years of her life and show her increasingly aware of her future position and of the power that this brings. She eventually stops being a doormat and grows a little more into a ball breaker (especially Conroy’s balls). We also find out about her uncle Leopold constant strife to introduce her to future husbands, much like the one she eventually chose, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg.
I will read the next book, The Queen and Lord M (Melbourne, the Prime Minister so well portrayed by Paul Bettany in the movie) fairly soon and will expand on this subject as I go along. If you’ve ever been interested in Victoria, I dearly recommend this series.
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