Audiobook: Victoria

victoriaby Daisy Goodwin
Read by : Anna Wilson-Jones
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Content: There’s some illusions to sex and scandal, but mostly it’s a pretty straight-up historical fiction. Good for those who are interested in England and/or queens and/or history. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

I have always had a bit of a weakness for historical fiction when it comes to royalty. I ate up the Phillipa Gregrory books about the Tudors back in the day, and I’m sure there’s more than I’m forgetting. I’ve had my eye on this one since it came out back in November, mostly because the cover is so pretty (and we all know I’m a sucker for pretty covers). I didn’t quite know what to expect about the book, though.

For the most part, I enjoyed it. Taking place over the first year or so of Victoria’s reign, it deals with her conflicts with her mother and her mother’s “companion” Conroy, with learning how to govern (and her dependence on, and infatuation with which was heavily played up, Lord Melbourne), and with finding her feet. It ends just as she meets and marries Albert, so there’s very little of the Victoria she came to be.

But the thing that kept me listening was the narrator. She was FANTASTIC.¬†All the perfect inflections for every character, and she kept me wanting to know more about the characters and the story. I’m sure I would have enjoyed this one in print; Goodwin is an excellent writer, and she knew how to balance the personal aspects of Victoria’s story with the political ones to keep it intriguing. But, listening to it gave it the push it needed for me to really enjoy the book.

 

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train

mrsqueenby William Kuhn
First sentence: “Several years ago, on a dark afternoon in December, Her Magesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth of Nations, Defender of Faith, Duchess of Edinbugh, Countess of Merioneth, Baroness Greenwich, Duke of Lancaster, Lord of Mann, Duke of Normandy sat at her desk, frowning at a computer screen..”
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Content: There’s a few f-bombs (maybe a half dozen?). But other than that, it’s pretty clean. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

You would think, from the title and first sentence, that this is a story about Queen Elizabeth¬†and you would be right. She is most definitely a character. However, I’m not entirely sure she’s the main character, or rather just a plot device. The basic plot is this: The Queen gets down one December day, and then goes missing. Six people — her lady in waiting, Lady Anne; her dresser, Shirley; her butler, William; a member of her security team, Luke; an employee at the Mews, the horse stables, Rebecca; and an employee of the shop where The Queen gets her cheese, Rajiv — all, for various reasons, go looking for her. It’s much less about The Queen and the reasons she left than it is about the politics of the royal household, and the lives of those looking for her.

Which isn’t to say it was bad. It wasn’t. But it wasn’t as good as I had hoped, either. The parts with The Queen out and wandering around, connecting anonymously with people were really intriguing and quite fun. The rest of it — the backstories, the drama, the relationship building — not so much. There were several times when I considered bailing on this — it just took way too long to get going — but I didn’t because it was for book group. I think I just wanted it to be more… fun. And much less drama-y.

I just wasn’t thrilled with it in the end.