Author: Michaela MacColl
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 304 Pages (September 1st 2010)
From: the Publisher, Thank You!
Synopsis: Prisoners in the Palace -- 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 the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?
Meticulously based on newly discovered information, this riveting novel is as rich in historical detail as Catherine, Called Birdy, and as sizzling with intrigue as The Luxe.
Review: 4 Stars - Michaela MacColl’s Prisoners in the Palace is a fictional story surrounding the time in History just before Queen Victoria began her rein over Britain. MacColl’s study into Victoria’s diaries is apparent and more than makes her plot seem real and true to life. Her imagination and intriguing characters were more than entertaining. As a reader this had me hooked from the turn of the first page right through to the last.
When Liza looses her parents in a tragic accident at the age of 17, her life is turned upside down in more ways then one. The life she’s accustomed to living is pulled out from under her and she’s forced to find not only a job but also a place to live. She finds work as a maid to Princess Victoria in Kensington Palace and quickly is pulled in all directions from all sides with her new position.
Liza is smart and quick on her feet as she finds herself in somewhat impossible situations. One thing I enjoyed about Liza was… she had her flaws just as everyone does. She might have been able to find her way out of trouble but she made mistakes and owned up to each of them. Princess Victoria was a bit of a brat and I blame that on her mother the Duchess and Sir John Conroy. You could see Victoria grow up because of Liza and the Baroness – who just happened to be more of a mother then her own was. Victoria’s soft spots is what made me feel even more for her because of the life she as forced to live at the hands of her mother and Sir John.
Speaking of Victoria’s mother – the Duchess and Sir John – talk about horrible! However, I could totally envision someone so close to the Royals trying to take such advantage. Sir John was more then evil and the Duchess had lost sight of what was true and important. It was frustrating at the beginning while reading just what these two did, but in the end I found myself feeling sorry for Victoria’s mother.
And then there was Will – a newspaper man who becomes a friend and confidant to Liza and through Liza the Princess. He wasn’t in the story much, but he was more then a strong character as he came to the aid of Liza on more then one occasion. And I can’t forget to mention Inside Boy Jones. With his help Liza was able to help herself and Victoria out of some pretty bad situations. These two characters more than made this story for me. It was a highlight to read these characters and more then added to intrigue filled throughout the book.
With history, mystery and romance told over a year in the life of Liza’s time with the Princess, MacColl has me questioning exactly why I tend to steer away from anything Historical. I found myself deeply immersed and invested in the lives of these characters and with the turn of the last page, didn’t want the story to end. Fans of British history or historicals as a whole will find much to love about this title. People, such as myself who tend to stay away from anything set in the far past should pick up Prisoners in the Palace and find out just what you’re missing.
Judge this Book By Its Cover! Please!
Lisa, thank you for inviting me into your lovely blog to chat with your readers. I thought I might talk about one of my favorite things about Prisoners in the Palace.
When my agent sold Prisoners in the Palace I was fortunate enough to have three offers. All three were from great houses – but very different. One was a behemoth – an IBM of publishing. And remember, no one ever got fired for going with IBM. There was an offer from a tiny well-regarded boutique house. And Chronicle Books. My agent has sold them many picture books over the years and he knew that they were looking to “grow up” and move into middle grade and young adult.
I knew very little about Chronicle Books until I looked at my own bookshelves. Without being aware of it, I had purchased many Chronicle books over the years. Each book was quirky and had a sense of flair, of “Design”. I’ve never thought much about things like end papers or the way time breaks are presented in the text – mainly I think because most publishers don’t pay much attention to those things either. Although I was concerned that they didn’t have a track record in YA, the more I learned about Chronicle, the more I wanted to choose them.
I’m so glad I did! Not only do I have a great working relationship with the editorial side, but I email with my publicist at least once a day. I’ve met the Director of Sales and the Director of Marketing takes time to answer my questions and hold this novice writer’s hand. Never would I have gotten this kind of attention at a large publisher. But where Chronicle really exceeded my pie in the sky expectations? The cover.
I had assumed that my book, being a period piece about a Princess would have a photograph of a girl in a big poufy dress. In fact, when I was doing market research, that’s how I picked books to compare to. But Chronicle went a different way. They wanted to do something fresh that would appeal to teens. They came up with a pop-art princess who is stunning. She has blue eyes and wears great jewelry. And then they put her on foil. Most brilliant of all? They didn’t put the title on the cover. If you want to find out about this book, you have to pick it up.
And then you turn it over. Chronicle wanted to reference the Victorian broadsheets that feature so prominently in Prisoners in the Palace. So they asked me to come up with several little articles that reference events in the book: Mysterious Girl Dances with Bachelor Prince or Is Victoria Unfit to Wear the Crown? How fun is that? (never mind that author’s never ever get to write the jacket copy!)
I love the book that Chronicle created. They understood the book I wrote and then took it to a new level. A level where teens see the book and say “oooh, pretty!” Visit my website, www.michaelamaccoll.com to learn more about the cover and Prisoners in the Palace.
Order Prisoners of the Palance Online:
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FTC Disclaimer: I did NOT pay for this book, nor have I been compensated at all in any way or means for reading and writing this HONEST review.
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