This review contains no spoilers.
Queen Victoria’s personal journals inform this captivating first-person account of one of history’s most prominent female leaders.
Queen Victoria most certainly left a legacy—under her rule as the longest reigning female monarch in history, the British Empire was greatly expanded and significant industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes occurred within the United Kingdom. To be a young woman in a time when few other females held positions of power was to lead in a remarkable age—and because Queen Victoria kept personal journals, this historical novel from award-winning author Carolyn Meyer shares authentic emotional insight along with accurate information, weaving a true story of intrigue and romance.
Victoria Rebels is by the same author of Cleopatra Confesses, which I’ve reviewed previously. It follows in the footsteps of Meyer’s other works by giving a detailed analysis of some of history’s most infamous historical women. This one follows Queen Victoria, the second-longest reining monarch of England (only recently surpassed by Queen Elizabeth II) and is one of the most detailed accounts of her I’ve ever read. It adds in famous events during her life that defined her (some of which my AP Euro teacher hadn’t heard of!) such as Sir John Conroy and his “Kensington System” which defined her younger years.
One of the things that this book is best at, is giving depth to young Victoria and developing her relationships with other people, including her husband and first cousin Prince Albert and her often estranged mother. King William IV, Victoria’s Uncle, was so un-fond of her mother that when he announced Victoria as his heir he famously remarked that he hoped he would live long enough that she wouldn’t need a regency. These relationships are well written and historically accurate, Carolyn Meyer researched everything and even used Victoria’s personal diaries (which she wrote her entire life) as a source.
In the book Victoria struggles through problems that she faced in real life; coming to terms with her position in court and the kind of power she did hold (she once prevented the Tories from gaining power in Parliament just by refusing to change the women in her Royal Household), and the scandal with Lady Flora Hastings that almost completely destroyed her reign.
I loved this book and I think anyone who enjoyed historical fiction or who just wants a better look at one of the most infamous queens of all time will too. I don’t think you should let it limit you because of its YA listing, I think people of all ages could enjoy it and successfully read it. The writing itself is not terribly difficult, but it is long, so bear that in mind.