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As many of you can see, I've been a pretty terrible blogger lately! What can I say...Life.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Review #5: “Prisoners in the Palace” by Michaela MacColl

Title: Prisoners in the Palace
Author: Michaela MacColl
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Edition: Advance Reader’s Copy: October 2010
Back Cover Summary: A novel of intrigue and romance about how Princess Victoria became Queen with the help of a maid, a newspaperman, and a scoundrel.
London 1836. Liza’s dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the job of lady’s maid to Princess Victoria and steps into the gossipy intrigue of the servants’ world below-stairs as well as the trickery above.

For the longest time, I was writing a novel that was set in London, England and Kingstown, Ireland in the late 1800s. And, ever since I started that book, it’s been torn to shreds because of its historical inaccuracies! Trust me! I knew it wasn’t historically accurate, but can’t a girl pretend and play with the idea that there are millions of exceptions in this world? It’s fiction for goodness sakes! The narcissistic nitwits who insisted everything be perfectly detailed be damned. Forgive me for studying European Medieval Civilization for years and NOT WHICH WAY THE WIND BLEW IN LONDON ON A SMOGGY DAY!!!

Whew! Sorry about that! It’s a tender subject. But more to the point, since I started writing that novel (which is being severely revised to the point that no one may ever again accuse me of being historically inaccurate) I have become wildly fascinated by Victorian literature and any novel that happens to take place in Victorian England/Scotland/Wales/Ireland. This book proved to be a perfect addition.

High Notes: I picked up this book in the basement of one of my favorite book stores. See, the basement is the best place to go because that is where they sell off their Advance Reader’s Copies for the best price in the whole store! It’s a bit of a gamble, considering that when an Advance Reader is sent to the bookstore no one knows how successful that particular book will be. However, I’ve found more than enough goodies there to be confident I’m finding something that is to my taste.

Besides the great deal, I once again fell in love with the characters. (I think that’s wildly important.) Liza is one headstrong lady, able to take care of herself in most any circumstance. Inside Boy steals every chapter that he is in with his street wit and manners. Princess Victoria is a delight to get to know again (after reading so much about her in history and in other books, or after experiencing her character in movies or mini-series). In this piece she’s only seventeen and a bit of a brat, but one that you find who understands what courage and loyalty is.

It was also fantastic to read something based of a different interpretation of history. It’s fiction yet there is so much you recognize to be true and so much else you wish might have been true.

Low Notes: The book takes a little while to get into. The words move nicely, but warming up to the characters takes a moment. Liza, at first, is so distressed by her fall from society that she looks for any way out, including using her newly appointed position at Kensington Palace, and the people inside, to get back to a higher place in life. (That is, until she learns to think of others more and falls in love.) Also, Victoria is a spoiled brat, so frustrated at what she can’t have that she forgets exactly what she does possess. (However, she does grow on you and soon you come to realize that she’s been, perhaps unconsciously, protecting herself from those who wished to use her for their own gain. You learn that she’s actually quite guarded.)

The only other low note I might mention is that some accents are written out. This doesn’t really bug me at all, but I know some people don’t like that.


Character Development: 5/5
Dialogue: 4.5/5
Prose: 4/5
Believability: 4/5
Style and Grammar: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 88% Splendid!


  1. Like I mentioned in previous comments, I am going to be out and about for most of the day today,but when I return, I will make sure to come back here and reply to all of your comments. It's no fun unless we all poke at each other from time to time.

  2. I didn't realize you were having such issues with Loyalty Lies. Someone actually wanted you to correct the wind? Screw them. What they're doing is letting out all their angst against movies that fail to be accurate. And who's to say that it can't be an alternate history?

  3. Interesting review of a pivotal time period and monarch in history. I added you to my blog list.

  4. Stopping by via the weekend hops to say hello and to follow.
    Have a great weekend!

  5. Yet another one I'll have to add to my list of must reads! Isn't Loyalty Lies how we first started talking? I seem to remember saying "screw" someone or other along the way lol

    Book for you to check out....it's been decades (yes I'm that old) since I read it, but even as a teenager I loved it when everyone else hated it. I don't remember the author but its called The Scottish Chiefs. I might be the only person alive that enjoyed it! Would love to see what you think of it if the spirit should ever move you to take a peek!

    Hope you had a good day and you'll have to tell me all about the movie, I wanna see it soo bad!

    <3 Donna

  6. Matt...No one actuially wanted me to change the direction of the wind. I was being a little melodramatic, but some things I was being pestered for were just as stupid, just not as interesing as wind and smog. Finally, I just had it. Now Loyalty Lies is in an imaginary country that is based off of England.

    Rose...Yeah, It was fun. I think what made it really interesting though was the fact that I already knew so much of that history and the politics surrounding Victoria's rise to power. This book just added to that knowledge and helped me gain an appreciation for one of the strgest women in history.

    Paul C...Thanks for the add and I am happy you enjoyed the review. Yes, it was quite a pivitol time in history, and it is one of my favorite times in history! So, twice the appeal.

    msposhb...Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. Hello right back at you. I hope to see you around and in the discussions. I'll certainly stop by and check out your blog as well.

    djpr...Yeah, I think we did start over something like that. :) Now, Loyalty Lies is back up on WEbook (Well, at least the prologue and 1st chapter) but it is under it's original name "A Year of Seasons." I still don't like the first chapter so I will probably revise AGAIN! and then I hope I can move on to rewriting the rest.

    Yeah! I will look that book up the next time I'm surfing the web or at Borders. Sounds like fun.

    Narnia was beautiful as ever, but I miss not having Susan and Peter in the movie. That always miffed me about the old movies and the books. :( However, I really enjoyed it. It felt a bit segmented or "episodic." Not sure if that was a good thing or not. It was like having a buch of short films with the same characters play one right after the other. Or a bunch of tiny plot lines without an overall plot line to tie them all together. Nevertheless, it was lovely, the characters really grew into their own (especially Lucy), and I was satisfied. I don't know if they are going to make another one though. If they did, not of the Pevensie children would be in it which would be quite the downer.

  7. Is Ian McKellan in that film? The guy who portrayed Gandalf?

  8. Thought I saw him in the trailer, oh well.

  9. I think I know what part you are thinging of. It did look a bit like him, but it wasn't. It does seem like he would be in a movie like that though.

  10. Ahhh, I think this has to be one od the best historical fictions I've ever read! I loved the two covers and really enjoyed the story...it wasn't boring like I find most historical novels. Great review!

  11. AmandaRose...Awesome! I did't know anyone else who has read this book. I found it in the basement of a bookstore so it is so cool to find someone else who, not only has read it, but enjoyed it as well. I'm also very glad you liked the review.

    Historical fiction can be touch and go with readers so I get that.


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