Friday, November 24, 2017

Book Review: Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl

Prisoners in the Palace
Author: Michaela MacColl
Publication: Chronicle Books; First Printing edition (October 13, 2010)

Description: London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza's dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady's maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant's world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?

Meticulously based on newly discovered information, this riveting novel is as rich in historical detail as Catherine, Called Birdy, and as sizzling with intrigue as The Luxe.

My Thoughts: Before Victoria became a queen who ruled for sixty-four years and had an age named after her, she was Her Royal Highness Victoria Kent living in a shabby Kensington Palace and firmly under the thumb of her mother and Sir John Conroy. This is the story of the year before she becomes queen told by Miss Elizabeth Hastings.

Liza Hastings is a gentlewoman who was orphaned at seventeen and saddled with her father's debts. She is offered a position as a Lady's maid to Princess Victoria and her governess Baroness Lehzen and quickly becomes part of the political intrigue at Kensington Palace.

Liza is determined to help Victoria thwart the political ambitions of her mother and Sir John. Because Liza was raised all over Europe, she is fluent in German which is the language most often spoken in Victoria's home. Keeping her knowledge a secret allows her to learn of some of Sir John's plans.

When Liza learns that Victoria is being denigrated in the press, she meets Will Fulton who is the one publishing the broadsheets and, along with Victoria, uses them to get back at Sir John. Sir John is a dastardly villain who also seduces housemaids and one plot thread has Liza tracking down the young woman who had her job before her which allows us to see what life is like for a woman without prospects in England at this time.

The story was well written and mixes a variety of fictional and real characters to tell a fascinating story. Excerpts from Liza's and Victoria's journals add more detail. I recommend this one for fans of historical fiction.

Favorite Quote:
Inside Boy's anxiety was infectious. "What's a peeler?" Liza whispered after the man had passed.

"These new policemen. We call them peelers because they're Sir Robert Peel's men. Some folks call 'em bobbies."
I bought this one Oct. 20, 2010. You can buy your copy here.

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