Book & Wine Wednesday is BACK! Reading Sara Review: Victoria, by Daisy Goodwin

Victoria, by Daisy Goodwin


Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; 1st edition (November 22, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 5/10

Eligible Rating

Reading Sara Review: For those of you who could not stop watching The Crown and love a period drama and historical fiction, you will probably enjoy Victoria too. Victoria was written by Daisy Goodwin, who also wrote the screenplay for the PBS show by the same name. Full disclosure: I read the book first. I liked the show better. Hence the mediocre book rating.

For those who are not intimately acquainted with England’s royal line, Victoria was queen at the age of 18, in 1837, and ruled until her death in 1901. Victoria became queen when her uncle died, as well as his siblings (including Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent), all leaving no heirs. The book follows just her early days as being queen, trying to gain control out of her mother’s tightly controlled grasp, learn about politics, and her infatuation with her first Prime Minister.

I think the reason that the show was better, in my opinion, is that it simply moved faster. Victoria’s story is interesting in that she was young to the crown and seemingly not very prepared for it. But the show adds the right amount of drama and beautiful people to make the story come alive in an interesting way.

Summary: you can skip this book and just watch Victoria on PBS. The series ends pretty early on in her reign when she has her first child (she goes on to have 9 children, and reigns for over 63 years, so, if Goodwin wishes, there is probably a lot more material to cover!). So, whether you read the book or watch the show, I definitely recommend a glass of wine with it – because wine goes really well with historical fiction!

Wine Recommendation: In honor of Victoria’s German-born mother, I recommend a Reisling. Depending on your level of sweetness tolerability, I found this super helpful website that explains the labels of German Rieslings so that you can pick out exactly what you want! Now, grab a glass and sit back with this book – or tv show – and get lost in some wonderful dramatized historical fiction!




Reading Sara Review: Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid

Dear Blog Followers, thank you for your patience as I took a hiatus from blogging as I welcomed a daughter into the world in March. I found that I had plenty of time for reading, but not quite enough time for writing on the blog. I hope now that I am in a routine that I can get back to telling you all about the great (and not as great) books that I have been reading this summer! But keep in mind, I’ll still be slow going on getting reviews up – but will do it when I can!


Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid

exit west

Hardcover: 240 pages

Publisher: Riverhead Books; First Edition first Printing edition (March 7, 2017)

Reading Sara Rating: 7/10

modern romance


Reading Sara Review: Exit West is a little weird, but I liked it because it was an unexpected love story that had me intrigued from the beginning. When Nadia and Saeed meet, their city is on the brink of civil war. Because of the uncertainty, or perhaps despite it, their relationship and affection grow for each other, and they begin their love affair. I love this quote from the beginning of the book on how they meet, even during the uncertain times.

“It might seem odd that in cities teetering at the edge of the abyss young people still go to class—in this case an evening class on corporate identity and product branding—but that is the way of things, with cities as with life, for one moment we are pottering about our errands as usual and the next we are dying, and our eternally impending ending does not put a stop to our transient beginnings and middles until the instant when it does.” 

As their city becomes increasingly unsafe, they decide to take a chance and walk through a door into a new life. Their story continues with unexpected trials, pursuits, and love. While this particular story is about Nadia and Saeed as migrants, it demonstrates the challenges for all migrants – and our changing world as cultures collide, and people move from the land of their ancestors to find a safe life.

These types of stories always beg the question for me: could I do this? Could I survive with the clothes on my back, unsure of where I was going to sleep most nights, or where my next meal would come from? I’m not sure – but this reminds me that there are people who feel that way tonight, people that are trying to make a home for themselves away from their families and the land that they have known, because of safety. And how can we be compassionate to these migrants? How can we help people feel safe in a place that they do not know? I believe that there are many ways that we can show compassion to refugees and help them.

“and when she went out it seemed to her that she too had migrated, that everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same houses our whole lives because we can’t help it. We are all migrants through time.” –Mohsin Hamid in Exit West

Hamid writes beautifully, and I thought that this story was captivating, surprising, and lovely.