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Jean Plaidy is one of the pen names of Eleanor Alice Burford (1906-1993). She wrote around 100 books under this name. The Captive of Kensington Palace is Plaidy’s first book of four in her Queen Victoria series.
This book is all about Victoria growing up in Kensington Palace under the strict supervision of her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her Household Comptroller, Sir John Conroy. Victoria spends much of her childhood cut off from anyone her own age. As neither of her uncles, the elder brothers of her late father, have any surviving children, it is very likely that Victoria will become queen one day so her mother monitors everyone that she comes into contact with, makes decisions for her and is generally domineering and forceful. Victoria is never allowed to be alone, and is always escorted by her mother or one of her governesses. Her mother even sleeps in the same rooms as her. The story ends at the death of William IV when Victoria comes to the throne at the young age of 18.
The book describes her relationships with many people whilst she is growing up, including her mother, Sir John, William IV and his wife Queen Adelaide, her Governess and her elder half sister whom she adores.
Throughout the book, Victoria becomes more aware of her future position which is initially kept a secret from her. Her mother plans to continue to dominate Victoria upon her accession to the throne and hopes that William IV will die quickly so that she is able to rule as regent until Victoria comes of age. As she gets older she starts to form her own opinions of people and becomes a strong minded young woman who will not be bullied into anything by her mother or Sir John. Victoria’s future character must clearly be moulded by the upbringing she had and makes her more determined to be independent after so long spent with no control over her life counting dwon the years until she comes of age and is able to command rather than be commanded.
Her mother comes across as a nasty piece of work! She is terrible to William IV and Adelaide and was not a character that I warmed to at all. Sir John is another such who tries to manipulate situations to suit his own purpose and is a thoroughly selfish individual. Adelaide on the other hand, comes across as a loving and caring queen who is not able to have her own children so showers affection on those around her.
As with all Jean Plaidy books, it was very quick and simple to read. Plaidy repeats things frequently throughout her books which can be useful when getting confused with names and titles etc, but can be frustrating when you have read something similar about this persons character only two chapters ago.
All in all, a great read about the short reign of William IV and the life of the young Victoria. Four stars from me.