“Victoria Victorious” is one of the the longer of the Jean Plaidy books I have read. Now, this makes some sense as Queen Victoria is still the English monarch with the longest reign. However, the length, composition, and flow of the novel reminded me greatly of “Queen of This Realm,” Plaidy’s novel of Queen Elizabeth.
Indeed, Victoria herself seems to be inviting a comparison between her life and reign and that of Queen Elizabeth I. There is a scene near the beginning of the novel where Victoria is young and is playing with her dolls. One of her dolls is a doll of Elizabeth I and Victoria shows a strong amount of disdain and dislike for her, calling her “that doll” or “that Queen.” The emotion seems to be one almost of fear, fear that Victoria cannot live up to Elizabeth, that she can never be as great as Elizabeth. I know very little about Queen Victoria other than what Plaidy presents, but as far as Plaidy’s writings on both queens, it seems Victoria’s fears came true.
There are two things that stand out about Queen Elizabeth, particularly in Plaidy’s “Queen of This Realm”: the first thing is that, above all, Elizabeth is determined to keep the love of her people; the second is that she shall be King as well as Queen and will be ruled by no man. These political determinations of Elizabeth’s serve her well and keep her crown relatively safe on her head. Victoria’s crown seems to be safe only because by that point in British history, the monarch has become largely a figurehead and few outside figures care to challenge her right.
By no means did Victoria keep the love of her people. She had, I believe, 7 assassination attempts, although evidently not all of them were in earnest. Nor did she seem to care to keep the people’s love. Whenever they turned against her, Victoria turned back against them, railing about their stupidity and willingness to be led. Actually, it seemed that it was Victoria who was willing to be led…
I had high hopes for the Queen when I was reading about the girl. When she was younger, Victoria seemed able to stand up for herself and what she thought right, most tellingly to her mother and her mother’s…whatever he was…John Conyer. Once she is Queen, however, Victoria seems to simply float merrily on behind whatever man has earned her trust, be it Lord Melbourne, Benjamin Disraeli, or Prince Consort Albert.
Honestly, this was probably my least favorite of all of Plaidy’s books I have read. However, I do not think that this was necessarily because of failings on her part. First of all, it may be possible that I simply prefer to read historical fiction with a greater historical distance from the present, I constantly found myself trying to figure out the lineage to the current British royals, and perhaps that simply is not as interesting to me. Second of all, the events in Victoria’s queenship seem to come out from nowhere and disappear back to nowhere; however, this seems to be more of a function of her not having a particularly good head for politics, nor being particularly interested in it, at least as Plaidy writes her. Third, I fairly disliked both Victoria and Albert, as well as many of the people around them. Unlike regular fiction, where it is not typically well received to write thoroughly unlikeable characters, historical fiction is trying to convey the lives of real people, many of whom are quite unlikeable. It may simply be that Plaidy found Victoria unlikeable and wrote her thus, without simply giving in to the rumors about her.
Overall, this book seemed a good introduction to the reign of Queen Victoria – no matter how obnoxious and smug I found her husband to be.
Buy this book on Amazon: Victoria Victorious: The Story of Queen Victoria