Monday, May 23, 2011

In Celebration of Victoria Day

Happy Victoria Day! 

For those of you outside of Canada, Victoria Day is an annual national holiday, celebrated on or around the 24th of May, in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday, as well as the birthday of the current reigning monarch (Queen Elizabeth II).   It is also marks the unofficial kick-off of summer here in Canada! 

I recently watched the movie The Young Victoria and loved it!  I've always had a fascination with the Victorian Age but, despite being a big reader of historical fiction, I've not read much historical fiction set during Victoria era other than historical mysteries.   So, in honour of Victoria Day, I thought I'd list some of the books on my to be read pile featuring Queen Victoria or set during Victorian Age:


The Captive of Kensington Palace by Jean Plaidy (synopsis from

Victoria is virtually a prisoner in Kensington Palace. Her mother and her mother's chamberlain, Sir John Conroy, are her guards. They will not allow her to associate with anyone that has not been thoroughly and critically checked to make sure Victoria is not made harmed by their very presence.Even her governesses are under scrutiny. She is not even allowed to be alone! Someone must always be with her. Her only hope is in contemplating her coming of age, whereupon she may be free and able to take her "Uncle King's" crown without her dreaded captures taking regency. Her best friends are her "dear" sister Feodora, married and living in Germany; her Uncle Leopold, her cousin-in-law and uncle as well as King of the Belgians; Lehzen, her faithful governess; the King and Queen, whom she is rarely allowed to see; and her cousins that she is also rarely allowed to see. She has scheming uncles trying to usurp her right to the throne, and family fighting over her. Every day she comes closer to her dream of adulthood, and her guards' despair at loss of power.

The World from Rough Stones by Malcolm Macdonald (synopsis from

The unforgettable first novel in the classic Stevenson Family Saga from epic master Malcolm Macdonald.

John Stevenson is a just a foreman when a near-fatal accident bring young Nora Telling into his life. Her nimbleness of mind and his power of command enable them to take over the working mill and rescue it from catastrophe.  Together with their friends the Thorntons-who are troubled by a marriage mismatched in passion-they are willing to risk any dare, commit themselves to any act of cunning on their climb from rags to riches.

The first novel in the classic Stevenson Family Saga, The World from Rough Stones is the epic story of two ambitious but poor young people who, at the very start of the Victorian Era, combine their considerable talents to found a dynasty and go on to fame and fortune.


The Victorians by A.N. Wilson (synopsis from

People, not abstract ideas, make history, and nowhere is this more revealed than in this superb portrait of the Victorians in which hundreds of different lives have been pieced together to tell a story. In an entertaining and often dramatic narrative, A.N. Wilson shows us remarkable people in the very act of creating the Victorian age.

The industrial-capitalist world came into being because of actual businessmen, journalists and politicians. We meet them in the pages of this fascinating book. Their ideas were challenged by the ideas of other people, such as Karl Marx, William Morris and George Bernard Shaw. Here are the lofty and the famous -- Prince Albert, Lord Palmerston, Charles Dickens, Gladstone and Disraeli -- and here too are the poor and the obscure -- doctors ministering to cholera victims in the big cities, young women working as models for the famous painters, the man who got the British hooked on cigarettes, the butchers and victims of conflict in Ireland, India and Africa. In this authoritative, accessible and insightful book, A.N. Wilson tells a great story -- one that is still unfinished in our own day.

We Two: Victoria and Albert - Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill (synopsis from

It was the most influential marriage of the nineteenth century-and one of history's most enduring love stories. Traditional biographies tell us that Queen Victoria inherited the throne as a naïve teenager, when the British Empire was at the height of its power, and seemed doomed to find failure as a monarch and misery as a woman until she married her German cousin Albert and accepted him as her lord and master. Now renowned chronicler Gillian Gill turns this familiar story on its head, revealing a strong, feisty queen and a brilliant, fragile prince working together to build a family based on support, trust, and fidelity, qualities neither had seen much of as children. The love affair that emerges is far more captivating, complex, and relevant than that depicted in any previous account.


Has anyone read any of these?  If so, what did you think?  Do you have any other recommendations for historical fiction set in the Victorian Age?