That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.k. JohnstonThat Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.k. Johnston

That Inevitable Victorian Thing

byE.k. Johnston

Hardcover | October 3, 2017

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Speculative fiction from the acclaimed bestselling author of Exit, Pursued by a Bear and Star Wars: Ahsoka.
 
Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history. The imperial tradition of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage. But before she does her duty, she'll have one summer of freedom and privacy in a far corner of empire. Posing as a commoner in Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir 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 extraordinary bond and maybe a one-in-a-million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process.

Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved not by the cost of blood and theft but by the effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a surprising, romantic, and thought-provoking story of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

★ "This witty and romantic story is a must-read.”—SLJ, starred review

★ "Compelling and unique—there's nothing else like it."—Booklist, starred review.

★ "[A] powerful and resonant story of compassion, love, and finding a way to fulfill obligations while maintaining one’s identity."—PW, starred review
E. K. Johnston is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several YA novels, including the L.A. Time Book Prize finalist The Story of Owen and Star Wars: Ahsoka. Her novel A Thousand Nights was shortlisted for The Governor General's Award. The New York Times called The Story of Owen “a clever first step in the career of a novelist ...
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Title:That Inevitable Victorian ThingFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 8.56 × 5.78 × 1.1 inPublished:October 3, 2017Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1101994975

ISBN - 13:9781101994979

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved every word I could not put this book down. It is a totally captivating re-imagining of the modern world. What if the influence of the British Empire had not waned, and if Victorian morality and courtly practises still held. Author E. K. Johnston imagined that Queen Victoria devised a plan to weld the Empire together through strategic marriages of her children and grand children to nobility throughout her kingdom, not to that of neighbouring European countries. Generations later, the plan has proved successful and the Empire thrives with a very mixed races population. The current crown princess Victoria-Margaret is about to come of age and assume her duties. Before undertaking those responsibilities, she wants one summer to live among and with her future subjects. She travels incognito to Toronto to stay with her glamorous cousin Elizabeth. She soon meets her family friend Helena, to whom she is instantly attracted and they become the best of friends. This sets in motion a chain of events that they could never have imagined. I loved everything about this story. The characters were young, just venturing into adulthood. They thought they knew what they wanted, but when they walked through that doorway, they realized that there was far more to consider than their younger selves had imagined. I could not imagine having paid staff in my house such as a butler and an attendant to help me dress, though a cook would be most amazing. I suppose if I had been born into that type of world, it would be common place, but to read about it and try imagining myself there, I don't get very far. Ms. Johnston did a great job of re-creating the modern world as part of the Victorian era. It felt authentic to novels I've read that were written in that time period. I highly recommend this book. . #IndigoEmployee
Date published: 2017-10-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderfully diverse book set it Ontario! Agh! I don't know how to classify this book! It's both an alternative historical fiction...and a contemporary? But maybe also fantasy? There's so much diversity in this book of race and LGBTQ. There are very interesting characters and a very prominent representation of bisexuality. Despite that, the book is fun and heartwarming and takes place in Toronto and Muskoka. It ends very cleanly in a bow but it discussed things few books have. Overall, the theme is acceptance. Acceptance no matter your genetic make up because we can't change who we are. This book did a wonderful job of portraying that without feeling preach-ey or heavy or making me angry. I Ioved the use of religion here. I grew up a holiday Roman Catholic but began questioning and became an atheist in high school (this was no big deal for me since most of my family did the same and I lived in southern Ontario). One of my biggest issues is the use of institutional religion to hate those different or to use it as an excuse to be a horrible abusive human being. I will fight to my last breath for you to get to believe whatever you want...until you use it to hurt other people. This book uses religion as a positive and it's what I hope institutional religion will change into.
Date published: 2017-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Charming & Compelling That Inevitable Victorian Thing takes place in the near future and is set in an alternative world created when Victoria I appoints her eldest daughter heir, instead of her son. Rather than arranging marriages for her children within Europe, she looked further to other continents and encouraged her daughter, Victoria II, to do so as well. This ultimately resulted in a diverse royal family and a strong multiracial, multicultural British Empire. Margaret, Crown Princess of the Empire and direct descendent of Victoria I, travels to Canada with her parents, the Queen of England and the Prince Consort. Masquerading as a commoner, she embarks on an adventure reminiscent of Roman Holiday. She wants the freedom to enjoy her visit before taking up her royal responsibilities as an adult, including a political marriage. While there she meets August, son of a prominent family and Helena, his potential fiancée, who has been invited to debut at the ball in Toronto attended by the royals. The story revolves around the three as they forge a bond against a background of parties, dances and intrigue. The book was an absolute joy to read. The characters live in a world where racism and bigotry is not tolerated. Diversity in gender, sexuality and religion is encouraged and different ethnicities and cultures are celebrated, not scorned. I was fascinated by so many aspects of this novel, especially the world building and use of computer genetic matchmaking, with it's combination of tradition and technology. Using the alluring scenery of Ontario as a backdrop to the story was refreshing. The pacing was steady, which gave me an opportunity to relish in the nuances and developing relationships, particularly the strong female friendships. Johnston has a unique writing style that kept me captivated. Once I started reading, I really didn't want to stop. That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a charming, compelling story of a future that although not perfect, inspires hope and understanding, amidst the unhappiness and division in today's chaotic world. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2017-10-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Good Read I have so many thoughts and feelings regarding this book yet at the same time, I'm unable to wrap my brain around everything. Here's hoping that some semblance of this review makes sense. First off, I have to mention my love of the settings within this novel. Rarely do I ever get to read a book where I have visited or have knowledge regarding the setting. With this novel, the majority of the story is placed in locations that I regularly visit! I now understand how much more that adds to the reading experience because I can actually visualize the real setting. This seems like such a minor thing but in all actuality, I cannot even tell you how exciting it was to have places you regularly visit mentioned within a story you're enjoying. Now, to get to the nitty gritty: the story. This novel started and had me hooked from the beginning. I couldn't get enough and was reading ferociously. I was loving the characters, all of the Canadian aspects, the style of writing, Royalty, and the integration of technology. I have to say that eventually the story did seem to slow down, but it was still enjoyable. As for the major plot twist, I did not see that coming AT ALL. I'm not going to mention really anything about it because I want others to experience that surprise. I am going to say that I'm glad that the author included this element because it's an important topic that needs to be discussed more. That's all I'm saying. I have to say that I'm conflicted about the ending because I don't know how supportive the ending is in reinforcing the importance of this topic. It almost belittled the inclusion of the idea at all as more than one character has to continue acting like someone that they are not for the purpose of abiding to the standards of society. Overall, I did enjoy this book and thought that it included some important elements. I do think there may be some negative feedback surrounding the ending but maybe there's a sequel in the works to change that? I hope to read more from this author in the future as I really enjoyed her writing style and the overall themes of this novel. **Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review**
Date published: 2017-09-28

Read from the Book

PREAMBLE Helena Marcus had not given much thought to her marriage. She was no princess, whose wedding could change the course of nations, and neither was she a creature of high society, confident that suitors might come knocking on her door, eager to make first impressions with the hope of being remembered as a mutually beneficial option after the Computer did its work at genetic matchmaking. Her parents were neither destitute nor disreputable, but rather quiet citizens of the Empire, and despite their professional accomplishments, they were, by and large, given privacy to continue their work.What Helena was, to her very bones, was practical. She gave no thought to her marriage because she knew her parents didn’t think she was ready, even though she would shortly come of age and make her debut in society. Amongst other things, this would earn her the privilege of logging into the –gnet, the Church and Crown–sponsored system—colloquially known as the Computer—that would read and store her genetic code with utmost confidentiality, unless she chose to make it searchable and request a match.Helena was under no illusion that her parents would support any match made that way just because the general public now accepted it as right and proper. Her faith in the Church of the Empire and its Computer was as steady as it had ever been, but her mother had argued early and often that no computer, however well programmed, could understand matters of the heart. Gabriel and Anna Marcus loved each other very dearly and had done so for the entirety of their relationship with near-perfect ignorance of and indifference to their genetic suitability. They would accept no lesser circumstance for their only daughter, as long as they had any say in the matter—which, Helena being as loyal as she was practical, they did.So, Helena held herself somewhat aloof from the simmering excitement of New London’s impending debut season. The small cohort of the sons and daughters of dons from the University Hospital where her father taught were lively and interesting, and she looked forward to dancing with them at their debut ball, but she had no particular attachment to any of them. None of them had ever made her pulse quicken. She did not save magazine articles about what colour gown complemented her particular white complexion. She did not think of DNA and a church nave decked in flowers. She did not daydream of rumpled sheets and lazy mornings. She did not make plans for a household in New London and how she might run it differently than her parents ran theirs.She did, on occasion, let her thoughts linger on August Callaghan, who almost certainly loved her.He had not said as much, of course. It had never seemed quite necessary to name aloud what they felt for each other.Helena had not seen August in months, not since the previous Thanksgiving, when she and her parents had last been up at their cottage on Lake Muskoka. Helena and August might have had a summer friendship only—as so many cottagers’ children did—but their parents were also friendly, and when August’s father had business in New London, it was with the Marcuses that he stayed, strengthening the bond between the two families.Strengthened into what, Helena was not exactly sure, but August seemed to know, and she was willing to wait until he spoke before she clarified her own feelings. She was very fond of him, and the futures she allowed herself to imagine as his wife were always good ones. She thought that if she were patient, her parents might see that as a sign of maturity and be less likely to quash any proposal, simply because it was the first she received. She would be careful and deliberate with her debut season, avoid the glamour and giddiness as much as she could, and then, when it was all over, and she was legally an adult by the standards of the Empire, she would talk to her parents about August, and to August about the future. Margaret missed her sisters but, aside from that, had no regrets about her decision. She was sure that Anne and Katherine were still moping, but she had promised to write to them and recount every detail of her summer, and that had given her some peace. Well, also their father had planned an extended trip to Scotland for the girls to distract them from the fact that their parents and oldest sister had left them behind. Margaret expected they would have more fun there in any case, as both of them were too young to really enjoy the sort of parties, dinners, teas, and galas her own summer was sure to consist of. It was the right sort of freedom for an eighteen-year-old, but not at all for those at twelve and ten.She ran her fingers through her hair, or tried to, anyway. They got stuck in the curly dark mass almost immediately, but that was a sort of freedom, too. At home, her hair was usually straightened and then twisted neatly behind her head. If she had an appearance to make, her hair was tucked away entirely, so that she could wear the traditional wig.“We are not ashamed of it,” her mother would say, her own wig so much a feature on her head that Margaret was hard pressed to recall what her mother’s hair actually looked like. Mother and daughter were similar in appearance—brown skin, epicanthal fold, freckles that could not be concealed without an unseemly amount of foundation—and so their hair was probably similar, too. “It is only important that we look neat and contained.”Her father, who felt his straight hair and white face precluded him from such discussions, never said anything, though Margaret could guess that he didn’t like that his wife and daughters still felt they had to conceal their appearance. It had been with his encouragement that Margaret wore her natural hair on this excursion. She had suggested it a bit hesitantly, unsure of the reaction, but her mother had quickly warmed to the idea as well. No one, her mother pointed out, had ever seen her like this. There were no photographs, no records anywhere. Generations of tradition—and the unrelenting attendance of the Windsor Guard—effectively kept photographers at bay where royal privacy was concerned. It was hoped that anyone who thought her face looked slightly familiar would see the halo of her hair and understated dress and dismiss their suspicions, cleverly turning misconception to personal advantage. Margaret’s security detail was not happy, but there wasn’t anything they could do besides make their preparations.Margaret’s own preparations had been no less intense. She had studied the families of the Toronto social scene as well as those from Cornwall, which was where she was pretending to be from, constructing an identity to go along with her disguise. She had also toyed with the idea of modifying the way she spoke, but realized that would be a great deal of effort considering that most Canadians couldn’t geographically source British accents the way she could.And, of course, there was the corset.“Your posture is better, if nothing else,” the Archbishop had said as he sipped the tea that Margaret poured for him. He had made no attempt at all to conceal his amusement as he watched her practice.“I can feel my kidneys blending,” she had replied, still holding the pose—though, to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t that bad.Modern corsets were designed to have all the style of antiquity, but fewer of the medical shortcomings; and Margaret’s was as high-tech as they came. The programmable threads used to stitch the seams would loosen her laces if she became short of breath, and the flexible material allowed her to sit with only minor discomfort. She couldn’t run a marathon in it, but she could eat and dance and sit for tea without any problems.That said, she was happy not to be wearing one now. The train was comfortable enough, but she was stiff from sitting, and a corset would only make that worse. There would be plenty of time for all of that sort of thing when she arrived in Toronto and the debut festivities began.Outside her window, the Canadian landscape sped by: green and beautiful and, someday, hers. August looked at the column of numbers and sighed. He was going to get caught. It was only a matter of time. And his family—one of the most prominent Irish–Hong Kong Chinese lineages in Canada—would be put at risk. Still, he could use what little manoeuvrability he had to cover for the family and company, even if there was no way he could see to save himself. Ever since he had come of age and his father entrusted to his oversight the shipping portions of the family enterprise, he had been determined to prove worthy of his father’s confidence. Now August was in over his head and he had no idea who he could turn to.It had begun simply enough, as he suspected these things always did. Callaghan lumber ships in the Great Lakes had fallen prey to pirates, though the fleet did not stray from Canadian territorial waters, and August had no idea how to protect them. And protecting them was his job, a job his father had given to him in a moment of pride and confidence it now pained August to recall.Nearing his wit’s end at a meeting in Toronto, he had encountered a woman who promised him she could guarantee his ships’ protection, for a fee. That was when his stupidity overcame him. He paid her, gladly. The woman was a pirate herself, of course, sailing under the familiar banner of a band of privateers that called Port Cleaveland home. And she did protect his ships, using her corsairs to harry anyone who might have thought him a good target. Only after it was too late did he realize that she had probably been attacking him herself before he started paying her, and if he stopped, she would certainly resume.It was a neat trap, and he was stuck in it. The payments were still manageable, at least. He had set it up so that a portion of his own wage went into a “discretionary fund.” The last thing he wanted to do was implicate the entire family in his descent. If anyone noticed, they would think he was only establishing his own investments, a clever move for a young man who had inherited everything, if he wanted to prove himself.But August knew. He was ashamed of it and he had no idea how he would extricate himself from the situation. And extricate himself he must—not simply to preserve family honour and his father’s good opinion, but because this was the summer that Helena Marcus would come of age, and the summer when, at last, they could talk seriously about their intent to marry. He couldn’t bring her into this. He wouldn’t. It wasn’t safe, for starters, and it was also illegal.He deleted the spreadsheet file from his data pad and put it down on his desk, harder than was necessary. He wanted to put his head in his hands and moan, but that would attract the attention of his sister or his valet, and he wasn’t sure which of the two would be worse. He had to go and pack. He was already behind schedule, and if anyone asked him why, he wouldn’t be able to give an answer. He took several deep breaths, the way his mother had done before she scolded him when he was a child, and forced his anxiety to the side. He had to be under control, and he would be. Too many people relied on him for it to be otherwise.For all of his twenty years, August Callaghan had been told that he had everything, and now, just when his bright future should be dawning, he stood to lose it. Victoria-Elizabeth, Queen of England and ruler of an Empire on which the sun never set, made sure her wig was properly anchored, took her husband’s proffered arm, and made her exit from the train.

Editorial Reviews

"This book, by alternate-history wizard and all-around word genius E. K. Johnston, is both an enchanting modern fairy tale and an un-put-downable, utterly captivating, thoroughly surprising work of speculative fiction. I would be delighted to brush up on my curtsy and join these characters for a tea party or coming-out ball."—Robin Talley, New York Times bestselling author “That Inevitable Victorian Thing is alternate history at its most intricate—woven with Victorian airs and a deeply optimistic vision of the future. I fell in love with E. K. Johnston’s world, along with the bright, beautiful characters who call it home.” - Ryan Graudin, award-winning author of Wolf By Wolf“E. K. Johnston's British Empire offers adventure and intrigue balanced with delight and whimsy. Her tale uplifts and entertains, all the while meditating on the legacies of history and a better society that might have been. Joyfully immerse yourself in this gorgeously-wrought world with characters you yearn to have as companions and confidantes, and themes of hope that linger long after you've read the final pages.”—New York Times bestselling author Andrea Cremer"[T]he world-building is so compelling you'll be drawn right in."—Bustle★ "Compelling and unique—there's nothing else like it."—Booklist, starred review.★ “A clever and self-aware novel set in a fascinating world, this witty and romantic story is a must-read.”—SLJ, starred review★"[A] powerful and resonant story of compassion, love, and finding a way to fulfill obligations while maintaining one’s identity. As with the dragon-infested modern world of Johnston’s The Story of Owen, the thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and humor in this alternative Earth are rewarding on multiple levels."—PW, starred review"A thoughtful exploration of class consciousness, genetics, and politics that doesn't lose track of the human story."—Kirkus "The world building is strong and imaginative and the plot cannily reeled out, but Johnston’s masterstroke lies in the conclusion, which avoids the usual YA tendency to squash love triangles... It’s a bold move well played." —BCCB"This is one of those books you throw at people with no explanation, because you know that they’ve never read anything like it, and you want to share the beauty."—Rachel Strolle, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL."This delightful light sci-fi novel is just the thing for anyone and everyone who might enjoy Anne of Green Gables if only it were more inclusive and updated for the 21st century."—Angela Whited, The Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, MN."Everyone knows (or should know) Johnston is a master of every genre she puts her hand to, and That Inevitable Victorian Thing is no different. Original, warm, humorous, and with real depth. Love it."—Allison Senecal, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO."This is the best kind of love story: complicated and thoughtful, with an entirely satisfying ending."—Cecelia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington DCPraise for Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston "E.K. Johnston has a seemingly limitless range."—The Globe & Mail "Soberly triumphant."—Toronto Star