Monday, November 14, 2016

Victoria: A Novel Of a Young Queen and Lace Votives

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As an avid Anglophile and reader of historical fiction, I had to pick up Victoria by Daisy Goodwin the moment I could. I love reading about her 63 year rein, her 9 children and her fairy tale love with her husband Albert, but how did it all begin? That is where Victoria takes us, the early years of the Victorian era.

In 1837 the King of England, William IV, died leaving a small eighteen-year-old girl as queen. Alexandrina Victoria had been sheltered and controlled by her mother and her mother's comptroller, John Conroy, her entire life. She wasn't even allowed her own room, sleeping just feet from her mother until the day she was queen. From the moment she learned she was queen she distanced herself from everyone that had controlled her, moving to Buckingham Palace and rejecting her first name and declaring herself Victoria.

Since Victoria's childhood was mostly removed from court, her mother expects Victoria to lean on her for guidance. Victoria resents her mother's controlling nature and instead she depends on Lord Melbourne, the current Prime Minister, to teach her protocol. "Lord M" agrees to become Victoria's private secretary and the pair soon develop a deep friendship that appears to be so much more from the outside.

Victoria is full of life, stubborn, frustrating at times but most of all a young women thrust into a situation she was unprepared for. She is trying to learn how to be both an adult and a queen at the same time. Throughout the book there are times when you want to stand up and clap for her audacity and times where you shake her head at her childishness. She takes a leap at romance more than once, first from childlike dependency and second as an adult and a queen.

I really enjoyed this book, while it isn't high drama, there is definitely enough intrigue to keep you turning the pages. The rift between Victoria and her mother both stressed me out and made perfect sense through most of the book. You truly hated Conroy and delighted any time Victoria got the upper hand on him. I loved reading about the early days of Victoria and Albert. They are always depicted as a couple deeply in love and it was fascinating to examine the earlier love/hate stage of their relationship. It must have been very frustrating to be expected to marry someone, and the author was able to express that while still making it to the inevitable end. My only regret with this book was that there wasn't more Albert. I adore Albert and it makes me home that there is a second book focusing on their married years.

I loved watching the inner workings of this time and while I know it is definently a fictionalized account, I felt the author did a very good job of sticking to the details that we know. This coming of age story is beautiful and heartfelt, perfect for people who already love Victoria or who are just being introduced to her story for the first time. There is an adaption of this book airing on PBS starting in January starring Jenna Coleman as Victoria. I can't wait to see it, I loved the book and Jenna Coleman is a favorite of mine. I couldn't help the next picture, Reuniting Clara and the 11th Doctor just felt right. ;) You can buy Victoria on November 22 at  Amazon here, or Barnes and Noble here.

As with anytime I finish a British period piece, I have the sudden urge to have a fancy tea party with my daughters. We have always have a blast and have fancy tea cups and a teapot for such an occasion. For this tea party we wanted a soft Victorian theme, and my daughter helped me make this votive for the center of the table. It really made the tea party!

You will need:

  • a mason jar
  • a piece of lace large enough to wrap around the jar
  • gold or silver ric rac
  • Mod Podge
  • hot glue
  • sponge brush
  • pink satin 
  • lighter
  • a rubberband
  • something sparkly for the middle of your flower

Coat the jar in a layer of Mod Podge, wrap the lace completely around the jar. Put a rubber band around the top of the jar to help keep it in place. Add another layer of Mod Podge on top. Allow the jar to dry completely.

While the jar is drying trace circles from the lid of the jar on satin. Cut out as many circles as you want for your satin flower, mine has 6 circles in it.

Use a lighter to lightly heat seal the edges of the stain. You want to burn them enough that the edges start to curl in but not so much that they lose their circle shape.

Add a small circle of felt to the back of your center petal. Glue the other petals on top of the center petal, alternating which side of the petal you glue to make a flower. Glue the rhinestone to the center of the flower.

Cut the rubber band off of the jar, use hot glue to replace where the rubber band was with the gold ric rac.

Add the flower to the jar and place a candle inside.

Place your votive in the center of your table and have a lovely tea party!

What about you? Do you love the Victorian era?
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