Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel

Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel

4.2 45
by Michaela MacColl, Chronicle Books Staff
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With the tragic death of her parents, Liza Hastings's life is upended in an instant. Gone is her money, her security, her hopes of coming out this season, and her station in life as a lady. Liza is a young woman left alone in 19th-century London, a precarious position at best. With no other options before her, Liza lands a position as a maid--at Kensington Palace--to none other than Princess Victoria, the future queen of England. In this debut, MacColl offers a whip-smart, spunky protagonist and a worthy heroine to root for--Liza's prospects may have plummeted, but her spirits never do. And though Princess Victoria can be spoiled and distressingly unaware of how her whims can make or break someone's livelihood, MacColl weaves enough goodness into Victoria that she never becomes a caricature. Court intrigue abounds as Victoria's advisers scheme to usurp her power upon the king's death, and Liza fights for Victoria's rights as much as for her own station. Enter Will Fulton as a dashing romantic interest for Liza, and this delightful story is complete. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"Liza's riches-to-rags-to-almost-riches story and her development into a young woman of high moral purpose, and Victoria's growth from a docile teen into a queen who would define an era, make this a great read."—School Library Journal, Starred Review"

a whip-smart, spunky protagonist and a worthy heroine to root for. delightful"-Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Eleanor Heldrich
This entertaining historical novel for young adults opens in England in 1837. A young American visiting in London with her parents to make her social debut suddenly finds herself alone in a hotel room, both parents killed in an accident; and, as she learns in a letter from their lawyer, she is penniless as well. However, an appointment has been made for her with the Royal Princess at Kensington Palace. At least she will experience this one last pleasure, but when she arrives dressed in her finest clothes, she finds to her shock that she is not expected as a guest. The appointment was to interview for a position as personal maid to Princess Victoria! It only takes a moment for her to realize a job is exactly what she needs, and, fortunately a maid close to her own age is what the Princess Royal would like to have. It is a time of intrigue for the Royal residents of the dilapidated Kensington Palace. The old king is dying at Buckingham Palace and his niece, Princess Victoria, is next in line to become the Queen of England. The author has placed Liza and other fictional characters, none of them royal, into this exciting setting, and through them the reader experiences hunger and cold, romance and violence, protocol and decadence, broadsheets and rumors, good and evil, rude servitude and attendance at a royal ball. The author has done an excellent job of mixing the real and imaginary characters in such a way that the reader never confuses the two. In a brief section called "Author's Note" at the end, MacColl provides a brief but accurate history of that period for her readers. Prisoners in the Palace is a Junior Library Guild selection. Reviewer: Eleanor Heldrich
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Through the eyes of her maid, readers get to know Princess Victoria during the year before she becomes queen. Down on her luck when the deaths of her parents leave her penniless and debt ridden, Liza finds employment at Kensington Palace. She quickly learns that Victoria is a virtual prisoner of her scheming mother and her mother's lover, who seek to control the future queen through a regency. Liza initially thinks only of ways to gain favor and influence, and, ultimately, money, from Victoria, but she gradually comes to feel compassion for the lonely and ill-treated 17-year-old. The emotional growth of both young women is the heart of the story, and it unfolds naturally because of a riveting plot full of conspiracy, sexual abuse of servants, treachery, and a great love story. There are references to prostitution, abortion, apparent suicide, and murder, but they are not gratuitous. Liza's riches-to-rags-to-almost-riches story and her development into a young woman of high moral purpose, and Victoria's growth from a docile teen into a queen who would define an era, make this a great read.—Corinne Henning-Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME
Kirkus Reviews
Regency romance blends enjoyably with historical fiction, with a plucky heroine for each mode. Newly orphaned Liza is left penniless on the verge of her London Season and is forced to accept the vastly-beneath-her position of maid to the Princess Victoria. There, Liza is embroiled in the real-life historical intrigue that surrounded the princess. Sir John Conroy and Victoria's mother schemed to keep Victoria dependent, hoping for power during Victoria's coming reign. In reality, the nearly friendless Victoria overcame their machinations alone. Here she survives with the help of Liza, Liza's newspaperman beau and a Dickensian street child. As Victoria approaches her 18th birthday and Conroy ramps up his desperate, Machiavellian plots, Liza becomes less self-absorbed and judgmental, willing to fight for Victoria. Suitor Will becomes accordingly more affectionate. Diary entries and letters from Liza and Victoria pepper the narrative (Victoria's are genuine and feel prissy beside the contemporary prose). The romance between characters with relatively modern sensibilities makes for a pleasurable portal into an historical event which is practically a Gothic novel even without the addition of fiction. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811873000
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
10/13/2010
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,217,790
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Michaela MacColl studied multi-disciplinary history at Vassar College and Yale University, which turns out to be the perfect degree for writing historical fiction. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and three extremely large cats in Connecticut. This is her first book.

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Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
DorianSD More than 1 year ago
With its pink cover reading the words of 'a novel of intrigue and romance', I was not eager to begin reading Prisoners in the Palace. However, after finishing the last half of the novel in a day I was surprised to find that I really did like it. The book centers on Elizabeth Hastings, who arrives in England to find marriage, but ends as an orphan left with unpaid debts. She takes up a job as Princess Victoria's maid and plunges into a mystery that will lead to a very dangerous plot. Liza, Her Majesty, a boy who lives in the walls, and a charming newspaper man, will help the princess become queen. I really enjoyed the theme of the book. It starts off slow, but really picks up later in the book, you can't put it down until you know how it ends. On top of that, besides some of the main characters and some plot elements, the whole story is true! Michaela MacColl did an amazing job capturing the tale and I recommend it to older teens, especially girls, looking for an engaging history lesson.
SueBE More than 1 year ago
This book is a tough one to categorize. Part mystery, part historical fiction, part romance it is definitely a 100% page turner. In running errands for the princess and tracking down clues, Liza finds herself in the worst parts of London. The bad guys are so bad that you'll want to read on to find out how and when Liza and Victoria prevail. It is even more exciting because so many of these people, or those much like them, existed. MacColl does such a good job with the characterization and weaving in the historic details that you'll find yourself wondering which parts truly happened and which are pure fiction (answers can be found in the author's note). When you pick this one up, or give it as a gift, make sure the calendar is open for some serious reading. -SueBE
Angeline_Walsh More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. The Victorian-esque cover at once caught me eye (because I'm obsessed with the Victorian era), and the layout and premise of the book seemed interesting and unique. If you love Historical Fiction, or just a well-written book about friendship and romance, this book should appeal to you. I really liked the main characters, they were witty and daring. I loved Victoria and "Inside Boy" and Will! Really great characters. The story is easy to follow and actually has quite a bit of adventure. "Prisoners in the Palace" impressed me, and I recommend it greatly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was the best book I have ever read. Filled with intrigue and romance (as it states on the cover), this book captivates you attention from the first page and doesn't let you go until you've read it cover to cover. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read- whether you enjoy historical fiction or not. Read this book- you won't regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader and can tell good quality when i see it. This was truly one of the best books i have read. I love everything about the story ; the characters, the plot, the truth behind it all. I could not put this book down . I look forward to the authors next book!
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! I loved the writing, I loved Liza, and all the other characters in this book were just wonderful to read. The plot was really good and the pacing was well done. For those that love intrigue into their historical fiction, you will also find that here. Sir John is certainly the type of villain to make your skin crawl and his plotting with the Duchess gives the plot a good amount of intrigue to enjoy. Victoria was made to be seen as a spoiled brat, but at the same time she acts this way because she's lonely and has no one of her age to be with, so her friendship with Liza is somewhat of a Princess/maid relationship, but at times they also put aside their class differences and act like real true friends would. What I really liked best about this book is that the plot never did slow down, it was a constant steady flow and there was never any stalls or anything done to extend the plot. It got really interesting in the end and made the perfect climax to any story. The author's note in the end was good and provided good information for further reading. There was only one criticism, and that was Albert. I didn't think he was such a surly guy, then again they were younger at the time and he probably did change as he grew older. I was hoping for more of a love story between Victoria and Albert, but it was not to be, they weren't such a big focus at this time. No matter though, this was just a small setback but nothing that would change my opinion about this book. I recommend this book for all those in love with the Victorian age! it was a wonderful book to read. Those who like YA books would also love this book as well.
BookHounds More than 1 year ago
This is a well conceived historical fiction for young adults that many adults will want to read as well. Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres and the Victoria Era probably my favorite. Elizabeth is orphaned and left with nothing but an education, she has no choice but to work as a lady's maid. Her fortunes take a turn when she lands a position with Princess Victoria during her teen years. There is a lot of court intrigue with Elizabeth taking part in solving mysterious intrigues and befriending Victoria. I loved how I was drawn in be the wealth of fact woven into the fiction of the story. It was so believable that you could just feel yourself inside Kensington Palace and it is nice to see Victoria portrayed as full of joy and life instead of her later years. I think this is best suited for those over 12 years old since there is some visits to unsavory parts of London. More, please!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is enjoyable, and it takes you to a period of palaces, princesses, and ball gowns. It has humor, suspence, and romance. Definetly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great
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olemoney More than 1 year ago
Well written, engaging story. Most elements are true to history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is about a little known period of Queen Victoria's young life. I found it very well written and interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nothing amazingbut certainly kept me engaged in vacation
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the kind of book I like to read when between serious history or other fiction. The story was light enough to move smoothly , keep you interested and interject some historical information. I especially appreciated the history details in the back. This book could've been longer; it was disappointing it ended so soon. I also would've enjoyed more character details. I would read this author's work again.
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Good clean reading.
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