04 January 2013

Prisoners in the Palace : A Novel of Intrigue and Romance by Michaela MacColl

Liza has been raised as a lady, to enter into London society, to meet and marry a gentleman, and to live a life of relative comfort. When her parents die in an accident during her seventeenth year, she is left in solitude and with a large debt with which she has no means to pay. 

She is lucky enough to secure a position at Kensington Palace as a maid to sixteen-year-old Princess Victoria and her Baroness, even though such a position is inappropriate for a lady. Liza doesn't much enjoy bathing in cold dank quarters with the servants or wrestling with her own dresses. But because of her education and knowledge of languages, the Baroness asks Liza to spy on the princess's mother, and as a result Liza uncovers a very deliberate plot is brewing to keep the princess from establishing her own regency when she turns of age. Having empathy for the princess, as well as knowing that her mistress might be the only one who can restore Liza's financial independence, Liza reaches out to a few key players -- a spy with knowledge of the palace, a newspaper man, and the maid whose position she replaced -- and if all goes well everyone might end up getting exactly what they deserve.

This charming story of the pre-Victorian history of the London regency has it all -- colorful characters, espionage and trickery, kidnapping and murder, true friendship, and true love. Recommended to most middle grade readers.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

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