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.
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