In the Shadow of a Queen

- Heather B. Moore

Goodreads Book Blurb:

Based on the true story of the free-spirited daughter of Queen Victoria.

Princess Louise’s life is upended after her father’s untimely death. Captive to the queen’s overwhelming mourning, Louise is forbidden to leave her mother’s tight circle of control and is eventually relegated to the position of personal secretary to her mother—the same position each of her sisters held until they were married.

Already an accomplished painter, Louise risks the queen’s wrath by exploring the art of sculpting, an activity viewed as unbefitting a woman. When Louise involves herself in the day’s political matters, including championing the career of a female doctor and communicating with suffragettes, the queen lays down the law to stop her and devotes her full energy to finding an acceptable match for her defiant daughter.

Louise is considered the most beautiful and talented daughter of Queen Victoria, but finding a match for the princess is no easy feat. Protocols are broken, and Louise exerts her own will as she tries to find an open-minded husband who will support her free spirit.

In the Shadow of a Queen is the story of a battle of wills between two women: a daughter determined to forge her own life beyond the shadow of her mother, and a queen resolved to keep the Crown’s reputation unsullied no matter the cost.

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My Review:

***Thanks to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.

enjoyable/easy to read:
3.5/5
Incredibly detailed, In the Shadow of a Queen is a beautiful story of family and romance in the monarchy.

The gaiety, the chatter, the switching of partners, the planning of future outings - all of which Louise could never be a part of as a princess.
Loneliness was a strange thing for a young woman to feel when she had so much and was surrounded by so many.

I found Louise to be an incredibly compelling character, and although this book was about her, the desire for realism made it difficult to connect. She wants to paint and sculpt and be political, but her position prevents this to a certain extent, and we don’t get a real emotional exploration into how she feels about this. Some moments like these feel too superficial, while others are intricately detailed. It balances out to a good story, but I guess I wanted more.

I appreciated the slow-burn romance, the search for a partner who fulfils all needs, and then most, and then some – until finally, the queen is ready to settle for anyone that Louise will seriously consider. It seems rather progressive that the queen allowed Louise to have her say and then actually stuck to it despite how long it took. The queen was a portrait of contradictions, letting Louise do so many surprising things and then turning down seemingly innocuous requests.

The bright shining spot here is the closeness of the family with all its politics and drama. Louise seems to be born at the right time to interact and be close with most of her siblings. Partially a daughter to some and partly a mother to others – the messy traditions and misunderstandings are incredibly realistic.

I enjoyed In the Shadow of a Queen and read it in one sitting (on a plane). Something about Louise draws you in, and you want to learn everything about her. I’m not enough of a history buff to know how much was accurate or even close. Writing about real people must be constraining; sure, you can tweak some things to fit the story, but history will tell you where they were and what they did. Regardless of how honest to history this narrative is, I definitely enjoyed it.

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