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London, 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


10 thoughts on “Prisoners in the Palace

  1. says:

    This book was love at first look for me Would you look at that cover It is so, so gorgeous Luckily, this book isn t just a pretty cover the content is so amazing you ll probably end up like me and staying up until 1 30 AM to finish it Prisoners in the Palace is not only the best historical fiction I ve read this year but it s going on my list of top books of the year as well I was drawn in from the first page, as Liza s in an interesting predicament One day, her parents are alive and she s planning her entrance to London society Just a few days later, she s being kicked out of a five star hotel because she has no means to pay the bill as her parents have died in a carriage accident Her father s solicitor finds her a job working for Princess Victoria Sounds glamorous, huh Not really The Princess lives in rundown Kensington Palace with her overbearing mother and her mother s awful adviser Sir John I hated Sir John, and so did Victoria in real life He was a true villain Victoria is willful, and even when she s being nice, she s kind of a hoity toity pain in the butt She must have told Liza some variation of remember your place at least ten times throughout the book.There are other wonderful characters to be found here, like Will, the newspaper man that Liza meets when she and the Princess scheme a story to run to bring shame to Sir John, Inside Boy Jones, a boy who lived inside the palace without the knowledge of the residents, and the frumpy, grumpy Baroness, who is like a mother to the Princess than her actual mother.I ll admit my knowledge of Queen Victoria was only rudimentary before reading this book, but now I feel the need to know I plan on reading some of the books the author suggested and I also watched The Young Victoria, which shows Victoria s life just before she became Queen and in her first years on the throne Prisoners in the Palace would definitely appeal to fans of historical fiction, but I think it would also appeal to someone who has never read the genre It s easy to read, and there is so much gossip, intrigue and romance that you ll be flipping the pages like mad to find out what happens I will definitely be buying this book for my collection.


  2. says:

    I usually avoid historical novels like the plague Seriously For some reason, I just can t get into most of them and I tend to get lost very easily Which is why I dragged my feet when I first opened Prisoners In The Palace It had to be read out of obligation, but I didn t expect to like it enough to review it Surprise Prisoners In The Palace is one of the best historical novels I ve read so far Michaela MacColl manages to mix the history of Queen Victoria with scandal and romance so gracefully that it s impossible to get lost The writing is gorgeous without being ostentatious simple but powerful And the characters, though clearly written appropriately to the 1800s, have actual personalities so it won t just end up being another book about that dead queen It reads like a modern day book, but has all the grace and style of historical fiction Liza and Princess Victoria s shenanigans to tarnish Sir John Conroy s name were incredibly entertaining Liza s relationship with Will, a newspaperman, was incredibly romantic And the scandalous plot twists of this book were incredibly enthralling And I never thought I would say this, but I actually loved all the detailed setting and history lessons that are subtly stuffed between the shenanigans, romance and plot twists.Overall, Prisoners In The Palace has broken my avoidance of historical novels It s simply a great read without being over the top or boring With a plethora of entertaining characters, gossip and scandals, romance, and faint but memorable history, the book is definitely a must for all historical fans and non fans who wish to be converted I definitely recommend


  3. says:

    The description had me completely hooked at the comparison to Catherine, Called Birdy one of my favorite books growing up Couple that with the plot surrounding Queen Victoria s court, really looking forward to this one.Review time Okay, I just loved this book It was one of those books that I could hardly put down Elizabeth Hastings, lady turned maid turned spy, is the main character, and a tenacious one at that She is so genuine, and I felt like I knew her so well She becomes maid to Princess Victoria, and therefore privy to all the events that shaped Victoria into the queen she is destined to be I really liked how Liza comes to realize what life is like living as a servant, and how dependent they are on their superiors for their livelihood It seems that most novels are about the lords and ladies, which is quite fun, but this was a refreshing change There is a lot of danger, intrigue and some romance thrown in as well.I also liked how MacColl included diary entries and letters between the characters it was nice to hear them speak from their own voice and was also a great way to show information instead of simply tell it.At first, I was a little concerned about how Victoria was portrayed She seems quite spoiled, whiny and immature at first, but, then again, there seemed to be little of her own life that she could control It seems understandable that she might be forced into whining her way to get a little attention And I have read that she was sheltered a great deal from anything unwholesome throughout her childhood In the end, she quite transforms into someone ready to take the throne.The romance of the novel was sweet, and in my opinion, realistic Liza and her young man grow fond of one another over the course of time, and actually at first do not seem to get along all that well It wasn t cliche or sappy at all, which is how at lot of young adult novels can be, in my opinion.I also liked that the ending didn t take a traditional route I don t want to say too much, but Liza could have picked the easier route, but she doesn t, and I was glad.Recommended


  4. says:

    The worst I can say of Prisoners in the Palace is that it s worthy It s not awful, it s well meant, but it s just a little dull.In theory, the book had a lot going for it it s dealing with an interesting historical event the domestic politics that surrounded Princess Victoria just before the death of William IV , and from a non standard angle, through the eyes of a servant at Kensington Palace The author covers in a note at the end some of the period detail she makes use of However, I did note that Victoria is made to practise Wagner on the piano, at a time when, I think, Wagner 24 at the time of the story had written nothing of note, nothing for the piano, and was not known outside Germany The book covers in some detail the manoeuvrings by the real life Sir John Conroy to control the young Princess, her household and her finances Widely supposed to be the lover of the Duchess of Kent Victoria s mother , Sir John was responsible for Victoria s excessively restricted upbringing, and she disliked him intensely as a result Through the fictional eyes of Liza, we see Sir John s manipulating intrigues intensify as the King s health worsens However, I don t know if it s because this is described as a YA book that the prose style comes across as a little pedestrian Facts and events are briskly laid out Characterisation is subordinated to the overall arch of what actually happened Liza is there to be the on looker to historical events, than as a personage in her own right So while this is a good fictionalised recounting of events, and Liza is given a bit of backstory to stop her being a complete cipher, it s not a fully fledged story.


  5. says:

    Prisoners in the Palace Chronicle Books LLC, 2010, 367 pp., 16.99 Michaela MacColl ISBN 978 0 8118 7300 0Queen Victoria is usually remembered as a solemn brunette, always dressed in black She isn t often recognized as a young, girlish blonde, fighting her mother for her freedom In Prisoners in the Palace, her struggle for the throne is told in a well crafted historical fiction The main character, Miss Elizabeth Hastings, is fictional She is an orphan and her parents, Lord and Lady Hastings, left many debts for her to pay She has no choice but to accept a post as a maid at Kensington Palace She soon finds herself caught up in a political war between Princess Victoria and her mother, The Duchess of Kent While Elizabeth avoids the Duchess s seductive personal secretary, Sir John Conroy, and forms a tentative friendship with the Princess, she struggles to find where her own allegiances lie.Prisoners in the Palace is by far one of the best historical fiction books I have read MacColl s writhing style is slightly Victorian, just enough to suggest the time period without specifically saying so, but it is not overwhelming I like that she chose to use an non omniscient third person narrator It really helped me remember that most of the characters really lived Some chapters are just diary excerpts or letters In most places they were a good choice, but there is a section in the middle of the book where I was bored because it was just letters I can see why MacColl chose to have that certain section written in such a way, but I don t think it was the best choice However, the book is just as good as it was before once you get through the section There is a subtle wittiness in MacColl s writing She does an especially fine job with Victoria s dialogue, painting a picture of a clever, carefree girl He s been bilious since he set foot in England What a boor Victoria shook her head in irritation I wouldn t marry Albert if he was the last prince on earth I would recommend this book to anyone in 7th grade or older, because I m not sure if anyone younger could appreciate the history properly I would never let anyone younger than 6th grade read this book, because the characters visit some bad parts of London, and some of the events could be disturbing for 5th graders There is a death in this book, and I don t recommend it to those who are easily disturbed by either violence of cold bloodedness Girls would probably enjoy this book than boys would, but I would recommend it to any gender I am sure that all who read this book will agree that it is a perfect tribute to one of England s greatest queens Becky Heinz


  6. says:

    Now, in my review of Sharon Dogar s Annexed, I picked at the nit of portraying real people in fiction With the portrayal of Peter van Peels, the main issue is that no surviving family or record can attest to his character With Queen Victoria, there are numerous records from which to draw upon Yet I hated the depiction of Victoria My impressions of her came through history classes well liked Queen, Catholic size family, but didn t seem very good to the Irish and the movie The Young Victoria sheltered, but slightly whimsical, definitely likable Michaela MacColl s characterization ruined that In this novel, Victoria is a flighty, silly, childish 16 year old who gets in cahoots with her new maid Liza, the protagonist Liza comes to Kensington after her parents have died in a carriage wreck Liza is fictional and hired mainly to be a spy to benefit Victoria and her governess against Victoria s mother and Sir John Conroy s machinations MacColl primarily tells the narrative through Liza s voice, but at times throws in random mixed media newspaper articles, letters, and diary entries, which at times don t feel fully integrated, and when they cause gaps in the story, the gaps don t achieve any dramatic effect In fact, we lose Liza s worry over Victoria during her illness with typhoid, a time surely to spark a rich fear in the maid whose service as spy For the most part, I could sympathize with Liza, who faced a precarious situation and seemed to have the strongest moral compass of all the characters Her plot lines with Will, the broadsheet publisher, and Inside Boy, a character inspired by true events, were the most compelling because we don t know how they ll end, unlike with Victoria s story , but could ve been fleshed out richly, especially given that the backmatter MacColl provides was illuminating and interesting.


  7. says:

    This was a fun read The author did a good job of transporting the reader to London in the 1830s It was a warmhearted book about friendship, young love the daily of life of royals and the working class alike just before the dawn of the Victorian Age The book also contains some adventurous escapades, particularly toward the end I would recommend this novel to a young woman who enjoys 19th century literature.


  8. says:

    I felt like Will and Liza s relationship developed to fast to be realistic In the book, the author doesn t elaborate on their meetings much, for a novel of intrigue and romance.


  9. says:

    To most, Queen Victoria is better known as the Queen of Britain, the woman to start the trend of white wedding dresses, Britain s longest reigning monarch or simply the serious looking old woman in royal portraits who famously declared, we are not amused.But before any of that, she was simply Princess Victoria A young girl, ruled over by her over protective mother, living an unhappy existence under the oppressive Kensington System , waiting in the wings to become Queen.Michaela MacColl s Prisoners in the Palace is based on real life events in the three years which have been condenced into one leading up to Victoria taking the crown, including excerpts from the young Princess s real journal, but have been elaborated on to create the story we have today.Some characters are real, such as the Princess duh , her mother the Duchess, Sir John, Lehzen and other members of the royal family Though others are fiction, their origin is from people who lived in the time.The story is artfully told through letters, journal entries, newspaper articles, but primarily from the perspective of the fictional character Liza After her parent s tragic deaths in a carriage accident Liza is left with debts to settle and her dreams of her first season in society are crushed Instead she takes a job as the Princess s maid and the extra job of playing spy to the Baroness, who is trying to find out what Sir John and Victoria s mother are planning.MacColl paints an amazing picture of Georgian London that is quite true to life Through Liza when she steps out of the palace we see both the life the rich lived and how unforgiving and cruel the London streets could be to the poor, where the options for survival were limited, particularly for a woman.For the Princess, Liza s arrival to the rundown Kensington Palace which, many years later would be home to Princess Diana is a dream come true Sir John s Kensington System requires Victoria to be completely shut off from friends, her finances and the outside world for her protection , when in reality it s a system that intends to make her submissive, stripping her of her free will making her completely dependent and under the influence of Sir John and her mother the Duchess This power over the Princess would mean that they would be running the show, with Victoria as their puppet.With the help of Inside Boy Jones who is secretly living within the palace walls and Will, a London journalist, Liza uncovers their plans and does everything in her power to break their hold over Victoria.The characters in this book are rich with personality and the interaction between them was completely engaging Victoria s personality was surprising since she is quite childlike and initially very compliant and under the control of her guardians As the story progresses we see her really take ownership and finds the strength needed to not only rule her life but rule her country.The blur of fiction with reality is what makes the story completely fascinating We all know how the story ends, Victoria goes on to become queen, but what s interesting is how and what happened before hand to make it happen.Though it s a historical fiction novel and definitely has the feel and mannerism of the period down pat, the story flows smoothly and is written beautifully so that you don t get the feeling of being weighed down by the rigidness that some historical novels have Prisoners in the Palace was impressive, intriguing as the cover states and engaging, I definitely recommend it.


  10. says:

    Full disclosure I m on Chronicle Books Gold Reviewer Panel for their YA books.Recently I was flying to NYC and read a chunk of PRISONERS IN THE PALACE by Michaela MacColl on my 5 hour flight from California A few days later, my in laws were watching the movie, Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt, and I was excited that I knew about young Queen Victoria s life from the book I was reading MacColl tells the story of teenage Victoria before she ascends to the throne as Queen as told through the eyes of her maid Liza Set in London in 1836, Liza becomes an orphan after her parents die in a tragic accident With her father s debts mounting, Liza seeks out employment in Kensington Palace and lands a position as Victoria s maid The two become friends over the course of the book and Liza meets a cast of characters in the Palace, some who are are aligning themselves for key positions in the court by blackmailing the princess and others who are looking out for Victoria s well being.While I m not a huge fan of historical fiction, it should be noted that MacColl does an excellent job of incorporating real historical facts into both Liza and Victoria s coming of age story Excerpts from actual journal entries Victoria wrote she had written over 100 volumes of journals by the time she died and Victoria s mother s letters from that time period are ways readers get clued into what palace life must have been like for a young woman.The writing is fun, with mixtures of newspaper clippings, journal entries from Liza and Victoria, and letters, which tell the many different stories from the different characters involved What should be admired is that MacColl has crafted these two young women Liza and Princess Victoria to be strong young women who learn how to be self sufficient in a time when women were not considered to be worth much.At times, the writing can be a little obvious instead of original, particularly in dramatic moments like when Liza discovers what has happened to the previous maid in her exact position But overall, MacColl translates the royal world into a relatable tale of what every young girl feels like when she s on the cusp of becoming a woman.Be sure to read the Author s Note at the end, which details what characters are true to life and what history MacColl used in the book After you get to know the cast of characters, it s quite fascinating to read the real inspirations behind them.