Yessir, it's been a long haul, but I finally closed Victoria Victorious yesterday. It's told in the first person by Queen Victoria and spans the period from her childhood until near the end of her life.
An unfortunate thing about this book is its alliterative but undescriptive title. It suggests that Victoria triumphs over adversity in some way, and at least as far as this book goes, she doesn't. She's not victorious or defeated; she simply lives a long, full life.
Plaidy succeeds in making Victoria a complex character. She's quite often stubborn, selfish, and insular, yet the reader rather likes her at the same time for her tenacity and for her spirit. These qualities are most apparent in the first half of the novel, where Victoria has to deal with her interfering mother and her beloved but priggish husband.
The focus of this novel is on Victoria's relationships with others, not the events of the day, and this insularity--heightened by the first person narration--was to me the great defect in this novel. Though major events--the Chartist movement, the Crimean War, and so forth--are mentioned, there's little sense of how they came about or what Victoria thought of them. We hear from Victoria which prime ministers she likes and doesn't like, and we're told which party they represent, but there's little real sense of the politics of the day. There's also very little sense of the enormous changes that were taking place; no one seems to have invited Victoria to the Industrial Revolution. When toward the end of the novel, someone mentions a telegraph, I was frankly surprised, for up to then there'd been no indication whatsoever of such technology. Indeed, I don't think there's even mention of the railways here.
All in all, this is a pleasant read if you're interested in Victoria's domestic life, but those who are looking for something deeper will likely be disappointed.
In other Plaidy news, check out Tanzanite's Book Covers blog, where she's posted some cheesy Plaidy paperback covers.