Virgin to Victoria is a powerful retelling of the history of the British monarchy, beginning with Henry VIII’s daughter, Elizabeth I, as she comes to the throne. Charting Elizabeth’s incredible journey, Virgin to Victoria travels in time through the confusion of the Stuart dynasty, the devastation of a Civil War led by Oliver Cromwell, horrific battles for the throne and the turbulent Hanover dynasty with its intricate family squabbles. Despite her amazing legacy, Elizabeth failed England in one vital area. She never married, nor did she leave an heir to the Tudor family. In making this one fateful decision, the Virgin Queen left the path open for a take-over and life would never be the same.
Thank you to the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of the book.
To be honest, I generally don’t read non-fiction, and had I realized that this is what the book was I probably wouldn’t have taken it. Having said that, I’m so very glad that I didn’t know, because I would have missed out on an excellent read.
Using a unique story-telling voice, the author skillfully crafts this creative nonfiction in a way that captures and holds the reader. She draws vivid scenes of the era and takes the reader by the hand to lead us through. As an example:
“Let’s take a quick walk around London in this era. Imagine it’s been a rainy day and you’re out for a walk. Water puddles had formed in dark alleys and the drains have overflowed down the middle of the cobbled streets as people huddle in their bedraggled hats and cloaks under dripping eaves. A horse-drawn carriage with clattering wheels speeds past on the uneven stones and carelessly splashes water on anyone who has braved the inclement weather. Normally the streets are packed with people and carriages and most days a blanket of smoke hangs over the city. The pollution gets in your eyes and stonework of every building is blackened with it…”
Now, if you aren’t in 1600’s London with that, I’m sorry for your lack of imagination.
I was drawn in to this book from the start and was delighted to learn the fascinating tid-bits of the royal families and to gain a better understanding of those that influenced and were impacted by the politics of the times.
Hughes has created a book that is both interesting and a great resource for anyone writing of the times, as the reader gains such a strong sense of the era. The settings are detailed, using all the senses to truly take us there. The characters are well-rounded and come to life in a way that usual history text-books never achieve.
According to Lee Gutkind of creativenonfiction.org, Creative Nonfiction is “the most popular genre in the literary and publishing communities” right now. According to Gutkind, the goal of this genre is to ‘enthrall’ the reader in the same way that fiction does. I would whole-heartedly agree that Hughes has achieved this goal with Virgin to Victoria.
I very rarely give a ‘five star’ review, just because I’m Dutch and we have a firm belief in the fact that there is always room for improvement, but I would have to say that for this book, I have to give Five Stars.
Congratulations Trisha Hughes.
About the Author, Trisha Hughes
Trisha Hughes is a best-selling Australian author who now lives in Hong Kong. Trisha attends workshops for children’s creative writing groups and is a mentor of a yearly young writers competition. Her first book was published 18 years ago, a best-selling autobiography called Daughters of Nazareth. Trisha has also published the first book in this historical trilogy, Victoria to Vikings.