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Prisoners in the Palace

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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,039 ratings  ·  344 reviews
London, 1838. 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 ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 13th 2010 by Chronicle Books (first published September 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tara
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
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Katie
Oct 23, 2010 Katie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: arcs
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 gracefu
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Michelle
A fantastic work of historical fiction, MacColl does an excellent job of weaving fact-based elements of Princess Victoria’s ascent to the throne of England into an entertaining fictional story filled with intrigue and romance.

Victoria is squirreled away in Kensington Palace enduring an oppressive existence under the dictatorial thumb of Sir John. As the self-appointed man of the house he has strategically aligned himself with her mother, the Duchess, in an effort to control the young Princess ri
...more
Britt Leigh
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 ...more
Rebecca
Prisoners in the Palace Chronicle Books LLC, 2010, 367 pp.,$16.99
Michaela MacColl ISBN 978-0-8118-7300-0

Queen 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,
...more
YA Reads Book Reviews
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 Pri
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Dodie
Terrific historical fiction that romps and roots along at a good clip, intertwining stories of loss, aspirations, family and the tumultous royal family in England in 1836. Victoria is still a princess and remote second for assuming the crown, and lacks a friend. Liza, recently orphaned and from an up and coming trade family, needs a job and access to favors. When she is appointed as a lady to Victoria's caretaker, Liza quickly becomes her friend, confidante, and ultimately, her savior. A forbidd ...more
Jennifer Lafferty
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.
Ellen
Apr 14, 2015 Ellen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ellen by: Delena Isilee
I read this novel because my enthusiastic, book-loving, 12-year-old niece recommended it. When I was about halfway through, I was disappointed with it and told a friend that not only was it just too young for me, the characters weren't developed enough and that it didn't include enough history. I appreciated it a lot more by the end, and even more after reading the author's notes and acknowledgements. I can certainly see why my niece loves the book and rates it highly as it is very engaging.

As a
...more
Abby Shepard
The year is 1836 in London, England. For 16-year-old Liza, it is all too clear that a single moment could determine how the rest of her life will be lived. After her wealthy parents are killed in a carriage accident, she is sent from her perch high up in society down to nearly nothing. The fact that her parents left her nothing plus the added debt that is heaped upon her has left Liza wondering what she can possibly do. When an opportunity presents itself to become a lady in waiting for the Prin ...more
Sofia (bookaholicconfessions)
This book was easily a pleasant surprise. I had bought this book more than a year ago for its cover and because it was on sale, not really expecting much of a fantastic story. Perhaps it was because I also had heard nothing about it.

When I picked this book a few days ago, I was excited to learn that this was historical fiction about Queen Victoria before she came to rule. It follows the story of Elizabeth Hastings who hoped to became a proper lady introduced to society and marry a noble man. Ho
...more
Hderaps
As is sometimes the case, actual history can contain more in the way of suspense, romance, unbelievable circumstances than can fiction. For me, this was the case with Prisoners of the Palace. I actually know quite a bit about the history behind this historical fiction novel, but was kept enraptured and flipping pages to find out what happened. It was just so riveting and engrossing that I had to see how it all came together (even though I knew how it would all come together)!

Prisoners of the Pal
...more
Megan
I really enjoyed this book. Historical fiction can be tricky. You need to provide enough historically accurate information and detail to be true to the time period, but you also want to be able to add in some creative liberties. It is really a fine balance to get just the right mix while keeping the story engaging and fun to read. I think MacColl has achieved this balance beautifully.

The main details of Victoria’s childhood are more or less accurate. The main character, Liza, is fictional. But M
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Jules
I enjoy historical fiction and this book is a lovely addition to the this genre as well as that of young adult reading. It is listed as an appropriate book for ages 12 and up. I think young readers and adults alike will find this a very satisfying look into Queen Victoria's young life.

Liza is mercilessly thrust into the life of a servant after being catered to and pampered her entire existence. She is 16 years old and doesn't know how to undress herself! When she lucks into a position as a maid
...more
Jennifer
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
...more
Lori
I was initially intrigued by Prisoners in the Palace due to the connection with Queen Victoria and the pre-Victorian/Victorian era but I wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea as it is listed as a young adult book. I was not only pleasantly surprised but thrilled to discover this book easily qualifies for adult reading as well, particularly those adults who adore historical fiction and/or the Victorian era. Because this book excels at both. And it’s a phenomenal read.


I thought Prisoners in the P
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Cindy Hudson
Before Victoria became Queen of England, she was merely Princess Victoria, controlled by her mother, the king’s sister-in-law, and a powerful advisor, Sir John Conroy. Victoria lived in near isolation in Kensington Palace, unaware of much news of the times.

Into this world steps the fictional character of Liza, newly hired as a maid to Victoria after her well-to-do parents died and left her penniless. Previously Liza had maids of her own, now she must adjust to being one. She also takes it upon h
...more
Kyleigh
I adore historical fiction, mostly because I adore history. Prisoners in the Palace was no exception. When I had the opportunity to read this I almost didn’t sign up for the tour. Just that God awful cover! Ah! It literally hurts my eyes to look at. It’s like someone took a Renaissance styled painting of a woman and put it with pop art colors and Roy Lichtenstein’s bendai dots. Just gah! Assault on the eyes! The artist in me just can’t forgive that horrendous cover art. Thank goodness the story ...more
Pamela Kramer
Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel by Michaela MacColl brings to life a part of history that is not much covered in Young Adult literature. We all know about the Victorian era, but how much do any of us know about Queen Victoria when she was still Princess Victoria?

It's a sure bet that what is revealed in this well-written, well-documented book, which is fiction based on real history, will shock many readers. The mos
...more
Emily
I devour books about Queen Victoria, her family, her Court, the society, everything. It’s a quirk, I know, and I couldn’t tell you why I’m so intrigued by that awfully stuffy Queen and her enormous family, but I’ll read anything that comes out about her. Which is one of the reasons why I love the mini-explosion of books about Victoria R including the fantastic movie released recently Young Victoria. Not so surprisingly, I loved it.

So I was excited to see this novelization of the year leading up
...more
Greta
Michaela MacColl's meticulous historical research brings to life this story of the tumultuous time leading up to Victoria's accession to the throne. We see the proceedings through the eyes of Elizabeth - Liza - Hastings, a rich debutante who finds herself abruptly orphaned and impoverished and takes up a job as Princess (not yet Queen) Victoria's personal maid.
One of the most interesting parts of the book is the political intrigue happening in the dilapidated and understaffed Kensington Palace.
...more
Jeanna
Jan 19, 2011 Jeanna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeanna by: librarian
What an intriguing cover, having the title on its spine and back, but not the front is surely something I haven't seen done before.
Review:
After Elizabeth Hastings' parents are killed in a tragic accident, Liza is left horribly in debt. To remedy her situation- she turns to the palace doors in hopes of finding a job. Liza is then brought into the scene among royalty and becomes Princess Victoria's maid. She discovers that royalty is not at all what is seems. Sir Conroy is looking to steal the thr
...more
Karen
When I first saw this book, the cover caught my eye ("Oooh, shiny") and I thought it was a clever design. I also love YA historical novels, so I took it home with me.

This is about a fictional girl named Liza who came from a well-to-do family but was recently orphaned. And so, to make a living, she was hired as a personal maid to Princess Victoria and the Baroness Lehzen at Kensington Palace in the year before Victoria became queen.

Here's why the 2 stars:

I did learn some new things in this nove
...more
The Library Lady
I recently read Becoming Victoria, an adult biography which focuses on the same period of Victoria's life as this book is set, so that was fresh in my mind when I was reading this. And McColl's story here does what good YA historical fiction can do--it brings that time to life, and it does so with a faithful eye to the details and the truth.

Someone complained because Victoria here is not how she was portrayed in "Young Victoria", a recent film. My dear, that was a MOVIE, where the character can'
...more
Zoë Arabella
This definitely deserves a 4.75 stars.

This is an amazing piece of historical fiction! I am not avidly interested in history, so thank goodness for novels like this! It allows one to understand a historical setting in a more natural way, as opposed to studying out of a droll text book.

I must commend the author for her extensive research!

Also, look at that cover! Absolutely stunning.
Liz B
Fun! And a definite future purchase for book clubs. (Maybe not in hardback...we'll see how the budget looks.)

Premise: Liza is prepared to make her debut in London society when her parents are killed in an accident, leaving her only debts. She is lucky enough to get work--as a maid for the Princess Victoria.

There is so much about this book to love--historical detail (it's not always easy to be a princess!), information about the lives of servants, well-drawn characters, surprises, suspense, drama
...more
Wendy E.
Prisoners in the Palace was an entertaining and informative look at Victoria's life in the year prior to her becoming the Queen. The author weaves historical facts with imagination to tell the story of how the Duchess, Victoria's mother, and her comptroller Sir John tried to thwart Victoria's progess to the throne by keeping her isolated, trying to set themselves up as regents until she was 21 instead of 18, and by spreading rumors about her abilities to rule. Liza is an engaging narrator. Reade ...more
T
i enjoyed this book. i was looking for a historical fiction book to read, and this hit the mark.
it is about a "lady", after becoming orphaned, she is offered a position of a maid for the princess Victoria, and how she tries to keep her position by helping Victoria become queen.
Liza, the maid, was very selfish, worried only of keeping her job as a maid, but with fear of no where else she could go, i guess that would be a realistic stress and worry.
i enjoyed the authors notes at the end which c
...more
Emily
Best book ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!! love so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
C
This book was received as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program:

The research on this was fantastic. First, there are excepts from Victoria's actual diaries, which are really eye-opening. If you think of Victoria as the old woman dressed in all black or associate her with the idea of prudish morals and repressed emotions, you will be in for a surprise! Though I am enough of an anglophile to know that wasn't true, what I didn't know was of the terrible conditions Victoria was raised in
...more
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What do you think of Sir John Conroy? 4 14 Oct 28, 2012 03:04PM  
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3444520
Prisoners in the Palace is my debut novel. I like to create historical fiction that has a modern appeal to teens and adults.


Regency romance blends enjoyably with historical fiction, with a plucky heroine for each mode. (Kirkus)

This novel is full of historical detail, vivid settings, and richly drawn characters, and themes of friendship and romance give the story teen appeal. (Booklist)

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