Lucy Worsley, British historian Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, creates an alternate history surrounding Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne that YA fans, Anglophiles, and BritLit fans like me will LOVE.
Eleven-year-old Miss V. Conroy, daughter of Sir John Conroy, wielder of the royal checkbook (aka, the comptroller), is headed to London to serve as a companion to the Princess Victoria. She’s not terribly sorry to leave home – her mother seems to have forgotten about her ages ago, and her domineering father insists that Miss V and her dog, Dash, are exactly what the young Princess needs. Or does Sir John need another set of eyes and ears in Kensington? That’s what seems to be the case, as Miss V discovers once she arrives at Kensington and meets Victoria, who’s an unkempt, rude girl prone to throwing temper tantrums. Sir John expects Miss V to keep him apprised of everything the young princess says and does, desperate to keep his oppressive hold on Victoria and her mother – a structure known as “The Kensington System” – and eventually, wield the power behind the throne. As Victoria and Miss V develop a close friendship, Miss V begins questioning her father and The System.
Originally published in the UK My Name is Victoria is a book that historical fiction fans will addictively read from start to finish. Miss V goes through major character growth, from a young girl in awe of her powerful father, to a jaded young woman who has seen and learned too much about the world, and her family’s place in it. Queen Victoria is a strong supporting character; at times needy and unpredictable, other times, aware and angry, striking out at the repressive Kensington System and John Conroy’s manipulation. There are complicated relationships, British politics, a little bit of intrigue, and a blend of fact and fiction to please. My Name is Victoria has a starred review from Kirkus. British history fans should check out Lucy Worsley’s webpage, and learn more about the real-life Victoria and the Kensington System at the BBC’s page. U.S. Publisher Candlewick Press has a chapter excerpt available.