Here’s the blurb;
“‘You are my sister now,’ Victoria said, quietly and solemnly. ‘Never forget it. I love you like a sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.’ Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Miss V’s father has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess, which he calls the Kensington System. It governs her behaviour and keeps her locked away from the world. He says it is for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it is to keep her lonely, and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the wilful and passionate Victoria, Miss V has a decision to make: to continue in silence, or to speak out. By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria’s childhood as you’ve never heard it before.”
I received a free E-Arc from Netgalley.
First things first, I loved this book. Okay, I loved 90% of this book. It was a thoroughly enjoyable novel, a fascinating insight into the early years of Princess Victoria and an exceptionally well-researched novel. If anyone has read the Lady Grace Mysteries set in the first Elizabethan England I would recommend this story to them.
The first half of the story follows the exploits of the young Princess and her friend Miss V. at the age of about 11. This part of the story is long and detailed, but that’s no bad thing because the second half of the novel is somewhat faster paced and follows the two girls between the ages of about 16 and 18.
The author manages to portray the enemy of the story, Miss V’s father, Sir John Conroy, in both a sympathetic and a cruel way, highlighting his meanness and ambitions for his future, while also showing him as an almost loving father to his daughter, Miss V. It is only near the end of the novel that his ambitious nature makes it almost impossible to like the man anymore.
Princess Victoria’s mother is a shadowy character who is hardly ever seen, and it’s the nurse and the governess who populate the majority of the story, along with their dog, Dash, and poor old Princess Sophia, at least until near the end of the story when a few German princes make an appearance. And it was from here on that I disliked the story. I genuinely can appreciate the author’s intentions in making some changes to the accepted story, but the more I think about them, the more I think that it’s just a reach too far to expect the reader to accept the changes. Almost like Alison Weir with her fictional books on Elizabeth I, I found the changes to undermine my own, previous, appreciation of the ‘historical personage’ and it went too much against what I was expecting to be easy to accept and quite frankly, it annoyed me a little.
Still, if I can forget that, I must applaud the author for this attempt to portray the early years of Princess Victoria. This is a fascinating and enjoyable account and I would recommend it.
And you can buy it from here from 9th March 2017;