Grade 7 and up 368 pages
Okay, listen up, you lovers of all things Queen Victoria. Have I got a book for you! Michaela MacColl’s Prisoners in the Palace has everything you’re looking for—that is if you want good YA historical fiction with a real historical person at its center.
End of sales pitch. Now on to the story. It’s London in 1836. Seventeen-year-old Liza Hastings has just lost her parents in a carriage accident. Her father’s lawyer informs her that all the money is gone. What was meant to be a trip to London to introduce Liza to society and find a husband has ended in tragedy. But the lawyer also offers her an opportunity. Seeing nothing else to do, she accepts.
She heads off to Kensington Palace to interview for a position as a lady in waiting to Princess Victoria. What she finds is that the position is for a lady’s maid. If Liza is to survive, she must become a servant—something she has no idea how to do.
Liza’s ability to speak German clinches the job, because Baroness Lehzen, Victoria’s governess, wants someone to spy on Victoria’s mother and her advisor, Sir John Conroy. Thus, Liza enters a world of intrigue, unable to fit in with the ranks of royalty or the servant class below stairs. She learns quickly to temper her natural reactions as a young lady to that of a servant. As the story progresses, Liza encounters political machinations that keep her scrambling to do what seems best for Victoria. And, of course, there’s romance.
Prisoners in the Palace is a compelling look behind the scenes at Queen Victoria’s stifling upbringing. And a gripping story. Besides Liza’s plucky character, I most enjoyed the historical details and MacColl’s swift plot. Definitely a book I had trouble putting down.
One last note. The image above doesn’t do the cover of this book justice. You have to see it in person. I talk a bit about this in the author interview with Michaela MacColl I’ll have up on Wednesday. So stay tuned. And, make sure to check in on Friday, when I’ll post a contest to win a copy of this fun read.