Book Recs: That Inevitable Victorian Thing
“Upon Victoria-Margaret— not to mention her younger sisters— there is no pressure to wed. If there was a time to discuss changes, now would be it.”
Book recommendations are probably my favourite thing. I love it when someone hands me a book and says ‘you’ll like this’, and I like it even better when that’s followed by ‘because it has great female characters’ or ‘great representation’. The other thing I love is recommending books to others, especially when I can say the same thing to them. One book that I’ve been recommending a lot lately is E. K. Johnston’s That Inevitable Victorian Thing. I mean, just look at that cover. It caught my eye, and I’m glad it did. Here are some of the reasons:
That Inevitable Victorian Thing is based on an alternative history where Queen Victoria saved the British Empire basically by convincing people to be less racist. The setting is a mix of the Victorian and the modern, along with a huge genetic database for matchmaking. Because of this premise, the book does address some touchy subjects, like the inherently racist nature of colonialism. I like that the author doesn’t try to argue that she’s made colonialism ok and not racist. Instead, the premise is really that they’re trying to do better now.
There are three main characters. Victoria-Margaret, Crown Princess, is on anonymous vacation in Canada for one summer of being normal before she has to start taking her political duties seriously. Helena is the daughter of a famous geneticist, and she’s coming of age this summer and preparing for a marriage to her friend, August, but she’s about to find out something about herself that will change all her plans. August himself is set to inherit his family’s company, but he’s been consorting with pirates. I like how all the characters have their own struggles, as well as having a collective plotline.
This book is so good for representation! Because of the alternative history setup, many characters are multiethnic, including August and Victoria-Margaret. In general, there’s a very casual multiculturalism that celebrates diversity. The book is also great for queer rep. It’s notable that, though all of the characters have a clear religious background, the book makes a point of showing that their faith is inclusive, both of queer people and people of other faiths and cultures.
That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a fun, quick read, great for that awkward time between your last exam and the start of the new semester— or for saving until February break. It’s a love story, it’s a story about deciding who you’re going to be, and it’s a story about a quickly changing world. If you like it, you can do like I am and keep an eye out for Johnston’s other books. I’ve heard great things about Ahsoka.
Written by Sarah Regier