Monday, November 15, 2010

Prisoners in the Palace

Michaela MacColl

How Princess Victoria Became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter and a Scoundrel...

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?

My Take: 

I absolutely loved this book!  The beginning felt a smidge slow to me, but in all honesty, it was probably due to the fact that I had an enormous headache at the time and I was having difficulty reading at all :)  Prisoners in the Palace is had absolutely everything I look for in a great historical romance in spades.  I feel like this book had everything: great authentic writing and dialogue, royal intrigue and scandal, just the right pinch of romance and really great character development.  I also really liked that the book wasn't too heavy.  I love historical fiction, but sometimes, the sad events can just way the reader down way too much.  The pacing was good and I loved the fictional main character, Liza.  She was proud, brave and smart and I loved seeing her evolve and become a better human being.  Young Queen Victoria was also a great character.  Throughout much of the book, she is quite immature and self centered, but after reading about the environment in which she grew up, as masterfully told by the author, you as the reader understand her shortcomings and enjoy watching her grow out of them.  I thought this book was absolutely wonderful, it was a real page turner (I blew through it in 2 sittings) and highly recommend it to not only lovers of historical fiction, but to anyone who enjoys a character driven book that is a little on the lighter side. This is a book I will be keeping in my permanent library and I will be sure to read it again.  I also loved that this book really is suitable for younger audiences, but is still an awesome book for adults as well.  1, Pay Full Price Guilt Free

Do you agree with my review?  Do you think I'm totally off base?  Either way I'd love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!

If Prisoners in the Palace was a movie it would likely be rated PG due to some violence and adult situations.  There were references "ruined maids" turning to prostitution but that is as offensive as the language got.

***FTC Disclosure:  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

Now a few words with the author, Michaela MacColl:

The Book Buff: When and why did you begin writing?

Michaela MacColl: I worked as a technical writer for several years. Once I spent a week writing a manual for a software product that didn’t exist yet. I finally decided I wanted to write something that people actually wanted to read. I began writing about six years ago.

TBB: What inspired you to write your first book?

MM: My first book has yet to be published – but it’s dear to my heart. I was traveling with my young kids in Italy. I’m a big guidebook fan and I found the guides frustrating because they don’t tell you the stories that would interest children. I started to think about Michelangelo and wrote a novel about how he gets his first job. 

TBB: Do you have a specific writing style?

MM: I like formal language so I am comfortable writing about the past. My grasp of teenage language of today is shaky at best!

TBB: How did you come up with the title, Prisoners in the Palace?

MM: Originally the book was called The Princess’s Maid – but it’s hard to say and easy to misspell. Chronicle Books wanted something else so I asked everyone who had read the manuscript for suggestions. My 12 year old really really wanted Victoria’s Secrets, but we nixed that for obvious reasons. Eventually we settled on Prisoners in the Palace. I like how it is ambiguous and plural.

TBB: I LOVE the cover of this book, I think it is one of my favorite covers of all time :)  Who designed the covers?

MM: Chronicle Books designs their covers in house. The editor and the designer work together to create three separate concepts which they bring to the editorial, sales and marketing teams. They all have to agree. With Prisoners in the Palace, they came up with something reminiscent of Pop Art, traditional portraits of Queens and BLING! The cover is also printed on foil so it’s a shiny pretty package. 

TBB: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

MM: My heroine starts out with completely understandable goals which are completely selfish Through the course of the novel she begins to believe in something bigger than herself. I like that message.

TBB: Do you have something you are working on at the moment that you’d like to share with Book Buff readers?

MM: I’m working on a story about Beryl Markham, the aviator who wrote West Into the Night. She grew up in colonial Africa on a remote farm in the highlands above Nairobi. Raised by the native tribe who worked for her father, she hunted warthogs and leopards, was mauled by a lion and led a revolt from her boarding school. As an adult she was one of the first female commercial pilots in the world and flew many dangerous missions over uncharted Africa. In 1936 she was the first to fly from England to North America. She crashed but lived to tell the tale.  Chronicle is publishing it in Fall 2011.

TBB: Where can Book Buff readers find out more about your books?

MM: Thanks so much, Kate!

If you are interested in purchasing Prisoners in the Palace, please consider supporting The Book Buff by purchasing from the following Amazon link, thank you!

OR!!!  If you would like to purchase the book through Chronicle Book's website, they have generously offered Book Buffs a special promotion code: PRISONER.  This code will get you 25% off your order and free shipping, can't beat it!

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