Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

  • victoriaTitle:  Victoria
  • Author:  Daisy Goodwin
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  November 2016 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.  (publisher)

My take:  Victoria was eighteen years old when she became Queen. She’d lived a very sheltered life up to that point and had to make many changes in short order. Starting with a crash course in a Queen’s duties, political relationships, and learning who could be trusted when it came to the people closest to her, she proved herself up to the task.

One of the most important people in Victoria’s life was her prime minister, Lord Melbourne. She grew to trust him which led her to feel an emotional bond that troubled some people. He was, after all, old enough to be her father. Despite that, it was difficult not to like Lord M. Another important person was Victoria’s cousin Albert. I loved how Goodwin developed his character. It was more complex than I expected and my feelings changed as I learned more about him.

Of course, if you’ve previously read about Victoria you know what happens. I enjoyed Goodwin’s version and recommend it to fans of historical fiction. I look forward to watching the television production in January (US).

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

  • the fortune hunterTitle:  The Fortune Hunter: A Novel
  • Author:  Daisy Goodwin
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  July 2014 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:   Publisher

Synopsis:   Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.

Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that jeopardizes the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and threatens all of their futures.

The Fortune Hunter, a brilliant new novel by Daisy Goodwin, is a lush, irresistible story of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures.  (publisher)

My take:  I’m a fan of historical fiction (especially the Victorian era) so when I was offered a copy of The Fortune Hunter I was happy to accept. I liked that one of the main characters was Austrian Empress Elizabeth (Sisi to family and friends) – someone I knew little about. She was an unusual and unhappy woman. Her husband Franz Joseph married her and then ignored her. She seemed to finally find happiness when she escaped her sheltered life in Austria and came to England to hunt.  Sisi was even happier when introduced to Captain Bay Middleton who would become her hunting pilot (guide) and possibly more.

At first my feelings toward Bay were mixed. He was all but promised to young heiress, Charlotte Baird, when he met the Empress. He appeared to genuinely love Charlotte but then was easily taken in by the Empress who wasted no time in drawing him into her world. He seemed to have no qualms about leaving his old world behind. In the end, I didn’t waste much sympathy on him.

I thought The Fortune Hunter was a rather quiet novel. The pace picked up in the second half and I enjoyed it but the first half was rather slow as the characters and their homes and hunts were laid out in great detail.

If you enjoy historical novels rich in detail you may want to read this book. I’m glad I did and will be interested to see what Daisy Goodwin writes about next.

Spotlight/Giveaway (US): The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

the fortune hunterTHE FORTUNE HUNTER (St. Martin’s Press; July 29, 2014) is a brilliant, new novel that explores the irresistibility of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures. Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as “Sisi,” is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse. Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that threatens the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and all of their futures.

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Author Daisy Goodwin talks about The Fortune Hunter:

 

DAISY GOODWIN is the author of The American Heiress. She is a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University and is a leading television producer in the U.K. Her poetry anthologies have introduced many new readers to the pleasures of poetry, and she was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. She and her husband, an ABC TV executive, have two daughters and live in London.

You can follow Daisy Goodwin online at Facebook and Twitter.

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