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Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel Hardcover – October 13, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 630L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; First Printing edition (October 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811873005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811873000
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Liza is expected to make her debut in 1830s London, but when her parents die suddenly, she is left penniless and must instead enter service. Through fortuitous connections, she gets a position as a lady’s maid to 17-year-old Princess Victoria, who lives with her mother in the neglected and tension-filled Kensington Palace. Liza begrudgingly adjusts to this new role and slowly comes to care for the temperamental, haughty, and pitiable princess even while she rejects lewd advances from Sir John, the household’s powerful secretary. Ultimately, Liza befriends a young boy and a newspaperman (who soon becomes a love interest) in order to confront the public slander surrounding the princess. This novel is full of historical detail, vivid settings, and richly drawn characters, and themes of friendship and romance give the story teen appeal; Liza is a brave yet conflicted young adult with whom readers will identify. The author takes liberties with some historical facts (clarified in an afterword) to create a tale of espionage, romance, grief, and hope. Grades 6-12. --Melissa Moore

More About the Author

Michaela attended Vassar College and Yale University. She earned degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. What happened that helped them to be great? Michaela has two daughters so she's hoping to identify those moments firsthand. Her books include Prisoners in the Palace (2010) about a teenaged Victoria, on the verge of becoming Queen and Promise the Night (2011) about Beryl Markham's childhood in Africa. Her literary mysteries include Nobody's Secret (featuring Emily Dickinson) and Always Emily (with the Bronte sisters). She and her family live in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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The characters are well developed and the story moves swiftly.
Amazon Customer
I enjoy historical fiction and this book is a lovely addition to the this genre as well as that of young adult reading.
Jules
Historical fiction with compelling characters make this book an enjoyable read.
V. Canfield

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By amazonbuyer on October 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I read the synopsis of this book, I mistook it for a history of Princess Victoria's life before she became Queen. I was rather disappointed when it arrived and I realized it was a novel with a romance bent.

In the end, I am glad I made the mistake because the author actually packed a lot of history in the book and she is also a phenomenal writer. There wasn't one wasted word and everything seemed to move the plot forward without sacrificing the historical content and accuracy.

This is an excellent book without too much emphasis on the romantic aspect, which seemed to evolve rather naturally and also became part of the reader's education concerning what it was like to be penniless and without a family during that time in England.

The book is geared toward young adults, but for those parents of young girls who may be interested in the book: It does (tastefully) explore how young women turned to prostitution and also how the young women who worked in the "downstairs" were left to fend for themselves when it came to the unwanted attention from male employees.

All in all, this is an excellent book that whetted my appetite for a more information regarding Queen Victoria's reign. I'm certain it will do the same for the target audience.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on September 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
PRISONERS IN THE PALACE is a lovely book from the sparkling picture of a pretty young girl on the front dust cover to the faux 19th century newspaper articles on the back. The book is not only Victorian in style but the future queen Victoria herself plays a major part. The heroine is fictional character Liza a pretty young girl raised in luxury and looking forward to her first London season. Her parents are tragically killed and she is suddenly left destitute until miraculously she is offered the position as maid to the future heiress of the British throne. Princess Victoria like her is around age seventeen and both girls are bilingual in German and English giving them an immediate bond.

Liza is surprised upon her arrival at Kensington Palace to find the royal home is not in good repair and that Princess Victoria is kept a virtual prisoner by her mother and her mother's advisor Sir John Conroy. Sir John goes so far as to publish stories anonymously in scandal sheets implying that the princess is mentally unstable and possibly even feeble minded. He does this in hopes that he and her mother will be able to be the real power behind her throne when Princess Victoria's ill "Uncle King" dies and she becomes Queen of England. Clever Liza soon figures out what is going on and plots to help her princess employer regain her rights. Along the way Liza and Victoria meet some colorful London characters and their future husbands.

I'm giving this book five stars because it is well written, well researched albeit with a lot of literary license and the type of book I would have adored when I was between the ages of eleven and fifteen and still enjoy as an adult. Sure some of the action is pretty improbable but the book is so much fun I can forgive it that.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Deborah VINE VOICE on January 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As faithful readers already know, I am a historian. I am also a huge Anglophile. Alas I studied American history and not British history in college. Therefore in my pleasure reading time, I love to focus on anything British in my books. And one of my favorite British topics is the British Royals. From medieval times to the current royals, I adore reading about the monarchy. Queen Victoria is one of my favorite historical royals to read about because her story is so fascinating and also because so many European royalties all have ties linked directly to her.

The main character in this book is Liza, a young woman who finds herself being forced to lower her position and status to save herself from being destitute. She becomes the lady's maid to the young Princess Victoria who is being kept pretty much as a prisoner in the palace that she lives. Controlled by her mother and Sir John Conroy under the Kensington system. Liza becomes the eyes and ears for the princess and discovers secrets about the palace that outsiders never knew existed. It's a fascinating look in the lives of British royals during the time period and it's lush and rich with historical detail.

There were times in the book when I did get a bit annoyed with Liza. I understand that she grew up in a position higher than what she was now and I can understand if she was unaware of most of the customs and traditions of her new station. However there were times where I thought she acted too modern for the time period. It wouldn't have mattered if she had been rich or a royal, there were just certain things that young women of that would not have done.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Erin VINE VOICE on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Despite being set in Victorian London, "Prisoners in the Palace" had a very contemporary feel that would be quite accessible for today's teens. Unfortunately for me, though, my favorite part of historical fiction is getting lost in a different time and place. There were interesting tidbits about Victoria's pre-Queen life (facts are sifted from fiction in the Author's Note at the end), but I missed the rich atmosphere usually painted around the events in historical fiction novels.

I also missed a noble spirit in the heroine. The "message" of this book seemed to be look out for yourself first, then do what you can to help others. I understand that Liza's circumstances were very bleak and her decisions were generally a matter of survival, so I can't judge her to harshly. But I can't praise her too highly, either, as most of her actions were prefaced by a calculation of what reward or punishment she was likely to receive.

Overall I felt the novel was only so-so. I didn't really connect with the characters, nor did I get immersed in the setting as I usually do with similar books. I do think that teen readers may find it more enjoyable than I did, especially those who prefer stories about "real life" topics.

On that note, if you do decide to read it or buy it for someone, I would recommend it only for teens and above. There are some heavy subjects woven into the story that (although dealt with tactfully) may be disturbing or inappropriate for younger readers.
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