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
Style and Grammar: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 88% Splendid!