Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of her Maid, a Reporter and a Scoundrel
A Novel of Intrigue and Romance
By Michaela MacColl
This suspenseful novel is told from the point-of-view of Liza, a young lady who, because of the death of her parents, must seek employment rather than enter society as other young girls of her age and social standing. With the help of a family friend, she goes to Kensington Palace to interview what she thinks is a Lady in Waiting position but is actually an interview for the Princess’ new maid.
Liza soon gets an education in life below-the-stairs as well as above-the-stairs and readers will too. Liza initially is interested in earning money to get her possessions out of debt but grows fond of the princess and they establish a friendship. Because Liza is smart, she hides the fact that she speaks German so that she can spy on Princess Victoria’s mother and Sir John, her lover and keep Victoria informed of their actions. They conspire to maintain control of Victoria and her future as Queen.
Ultimately, Liza and Victoria use the power of the press to gain control. This idea is not without tremendous risk and some terrible consequences for several important people. Readers are certainly able to draw comparisons to today’s press and the treatment of public figures. A lesson on the history of press in England and in the United States would fit nicely with this novel.
This novel uses Princess Victoria’s actual journal entries and there is much history to be learned by readers. This is exactly how I love to get my history lessons- it so much more interesting to learn via a well-researched fictional character or a historical figure’s point of view than memorizing facts and dates. This author did a fantastic job of giving meaning to the time and the life of Princess Victoria that no middle school history text can compete with.
It would be wonderful to read this novel and then watch the movie The Young Victoria(2009). I highly recommend MacColl’s novel, the writing is outstanding, the characters are engaging and readers can’t help but fall in love with Liza and the Princess.
…And it is getting me warmed up for the new season of Downton Abbey! The perspectives of the “help” and “royalty” of any period fascinate me. 🙂