Title: That Inevitable Victorian Thing
Author: E.K. Johnston
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved, not by the cost of blood and theft but by effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.
Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendant of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she’ll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire’s greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.
When I read the description of this book, I knew I would love it. I love the Victorian period and the English monarchy, and I’m from Toronto, so it was the best of both worlds!
I loved the Toronto references. They mention that the Don Valley Parkway will be closed for construction, which often happens. There were also popular landmarks mentioned, like Union station and the Royal York hotel, where royals stay in when they visit Toronto, so it was very realistic.
Since this world is like ours but a little different, there were some changes to history. Queen Victoria’s children married people from different British empires, rather than European royalty. This created a diverse monarchy. One subtle change to history was that Alan Turing was knighted and living in the 60s. Alan Turing invented a computer that ended WWII, but he later had hormone replacement therapy because he was gay and ended up killing himself in 1954. In this different, diverse world, Alan Turing lived.
There was an omniscient third person narrator, which is not common in modern writing. The narrator knew what everyone was thinking and would switch between different characters’ minds. However, this was a common kind of narrator in Victorian literature, so it read like an authentic Victorian novel.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?