Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Published by St. Martin's Press ISBN 9781250045461
Hardcover, $26.99, 413 pages


Fans of PBS's Downton Abbey and Netflix's The Crown now have their new fix- Victoria. Author Daisy Goodwin's novel Victoria, about the life of the young Queen of Great Britain who ruled for 63 years, is also the basis for PBS's Masterpiece Classic Victoria, now showing on PBS.

Goodwin also wrote the screenplay for the PBS series, which follows the novel very closely. The novel only covers a few years of Victoria's life, from age 18 until she decides her future husband will be her cousin Albert a few years later. The series, on episode three so far, moves much faster and will clearly cover more of Victoria's life.

Most of the novel deals with the beginning of Victoria's reign. She has a strained relationship with her mother, whose companion, Sir John, wants desperately for Victoria to appoint him as regent and allow him to closely influence her governance.

But Victoria doesn't trust Sir John, instead turning to Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister. Lord Melbourne becomes fond of the young Queen, and Victoria is besotted with Melbourne. Their relationship consumes much of the novel, and Rufus Sewell and Jenna Coleman, who play them in the series, have a wonderful chemistry onscreen. (And Coleman is luminous as the young Queen.)

The series portrays more downstairs activity with the servants, perhaps to appeal more to fans of Downton Abbey.

I truly enjoyed seeing some of the more cinematic scenes from the novel come to life, such as the costume ball, where Victoria goes dressed as Elizabeth I. The ballroom and the costumes are just so stunning, especially Victoria's crown.

I'm glad I read Victoria before watching the series, I felt I had a better sense of the many characters and their relationships and motivations. The book really puts you in the head of Victoria, and what it felt like to be an 18-year-old young woman, who had led a sheltered life in Kensington before ascending to the throne.

Masterpiece Classic Victoria continues on Sundays on PBS and I will be glued to my seat, as by the end of episode three is where the book ends but Victoria's fascinating story continues on. I highly recommend both Victoria the book, and Victoria the series.

More information on Victoria  on PBS is here.

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