Thursday, March 17, 2011

Prisoners in the Palace

Michaela MacColl's Prisoners in the Palace is a beautiful piece of young adult fiction and a perfect example of why young adult fiction is often superior to adult fiction. It takes place in the 1830's and gives a fine picture of the times and customs without overburdening the reader with detail as many adult novels would.

Prisoners in the Palace is based on the true story of the young princess Victoria before she became Queen Victoria of Great Britain and heralded in the Victorian age so often written about now. The main character of this novel is Liza, a fictional orphan who falls from her position when her parents die and leave her in debt, reducing her to accept work as a maid, though a maid for a princess. 

Although the large events of the story are true, including excerpts from Victoria's diary, MacColl imagines that Liza plays a crucial role in helping Victoria overcome the obstacles to becoming queen. Victoria's mother is under the influence of the scoundrel Sir John who plans to make Victoria seem weak so that he can rule through Victoria's mother as regent. Liza meets a dashing young reporter and passes along news to be printed in the papers to undermine Sir John's plans. Liza is recruited by both Victoria and Victoria's governess to act as spy, but it's dangerous work and Liza can only hope Victoria will learn to appreciate her so that she doesn't end up like Victoria's last maid, ruined and forced to prostitution on the streets.

This novel has intrigue, danger, romance, and historical interest. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to any age. My sister-in-law Summer currently has the book in her bookstore's young adult section, so be sure to check it out if you're ever there.

Four and a half stars for this lovely read, and I assure you, I wasn't influenced by the fact that the book is signed by the author to me. But it is nice to have one signed that I absolutely love.

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