Elizabeth I

( 63 )


New York Times bestselling author Margaret George captures history's most enthralling queen-as she confronts rivals to her throne and to her heart.

One of today's premier historical novelists, Margaret George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma-the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel- bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England's greatest ...

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New York Times bestselling author Margaret George captures history's most enthralling queen-as she confronts rivals to her throne and to her heart.

One of today's premier historical novelists, Margaret George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma-the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel- bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England's greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. But what was she really like?

In this novel, her flame-haired, lookalike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth's rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth's throne, Lettice had been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country, and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family and each vying to convince the reader of her own private vision of the truth about Elizabeth's character. Their gripping drama is acted out at the height of the flowering of the Elizabethan age. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake-all of them swirl through these pages as they swirled through the court and on the high seas.

This is a magnificent, stay-up-all-night page-turner that is George's finest and most compelling novel and one that is sure to please readers of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Historical novelist Margaret George lives in contemporary Madison, Wisconsin, but many of her most avid readers are convinced that she's capable of time travel. In her latest effort, this chronicler of Henry VIII and Cleopatra ventures into the lives of English "Virgin Queen" Elizabeth I (1533-1603) and her little-known archenemy, lookalike cousin Lettice Knollys (1543-1634). Narrated alternately by its two dueling protagonists, George's 700-page Elizabeth I engulfs readers in regal machinations, romantic intrigues, and rank jealousies.

Library Journal
George is a long-established novelistic chronicler of historic lives, from Cleopatra to Helen of Troy. In her latest book, she lightly fictionalizes the later years of Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned over England in the 16th century. She familiarizes her readers with the famous people in the Queen's life, such as Shakespeare and Sir Francis Drake, and walks them through the political strife and intrigue inherent in a turbulent court. Set against the monarch is Lettice Knollys, Her Majesty's cousin. Lettice's family and fortune are at a downturn, and she will try, through scheme and conspiracy, to regain her status even if it means making an enemy of the most powerful woman in the world. VERDICT George's writing is of an older, more formal style; neither cinematic nor intimately personal. Her story arc is leisurely to the point of plodding, her focus much more on the accurate history of her subjects than the fiction that breathes life into them. This is a book that would be treasured by history buffs but may try the patience of casual readers. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/10.]—Therese Oneill, Monmouth, OR
Kirkus Reviews

Overly busy novel of life inside the Virgin Queen's court—and mind.

Anyone who's read history or seen Shekhar Kapur's 1998 bloodfestElizabeth, with Cate Blanchett in the title role, knows that the daughter of Henry VIII was no one to mess with. Indeed, as George's novel opens, well into her reign, Queen Elizabeth is sternly interrogating "the three most powerful men in the realm," one of whom, Sir Francis Walsingham, is famously not shy of doing in the various opponents to her rule, such as Mary, Queen of Scots. England, Elizabeth avers, is the bulwark of the Reformation against a resurgent Catholic Church—explains one of those three, in a flat, modern and wholly anachronistic way, "It's religious, but it's also political."Indeed. A viper in the nest, Elizabeth's cousin, the vivacious redhead Lettice Knollys, has reasons aplenty to oppose the queen on several counts, not least of them old-fashioned familial rivalry, and George's novel traces their long dance of fate against the backdrop of Tudor hanky-panky and an inconvenient Spanish Armada, the former more daunting and certainly more entertaining than the latter, since the Spanish fleet is all too quickly smashed against the rocks of Ireland. George tells her tale from multiple points of view, sometimes confusingly, and her prose tends to be without affect—or, for that matter, zing. In the hands of a master of period language, a John Barth, say, this tangled tale would doubtless spring to life, but as it is it's all rather clinical, with intonations such as "It is in the nature of truth to have enemies" to remind us that we're in the midst of important events. The tale is also nicely bloody and byzantine, but it goes on much too long; Hilary Mantel packed a lot more punch intoWolf Hall (2009), and in a 100-odd pages less.

Historically sound, but without the sympathetic spark of the best historical fiction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594528081
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Pages: 671
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret George

Margaret George is the author of the bestselling Autobiography of Henry VIII; Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles; The Memoirs of Cleopatra; and Mary, Called Magdalene.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 63 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Fresh Perspective on the Later Years of Elizabeth I

    Be awed by the presence of Elizabeth Tudor, the woman behind the sovereign, as you explore the humanity of the indomitable Virgin Queen of England through the pages of Elizabeth I. Margaret George's meticulously researched first person account of the last thirty years of the queen's life is an enthralling breath of fresh air. Biographies of Elizabeth I abound. George gives the Tudor-loving world a unique novel, written in both in Elizabeth's voice and also that of her childhood nemesis, Lettice Knollys.

    The novel opens in 1588 when Elizabeth Tudor faces her greatest challenge, the Spanish Armada. Written with a consistently regal tone, the book gives us a mirror into the humanity of Elizabeth, the woman. Yet, the author masterfully incorporates the thoughts, actions and attitudes illuminating the greatness of The Virgin Queen who ruled England for forty-five years. Glimpses into the brilliance and machinations of Shakespeare, Francis Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh abound. Skillfully woven into the book are both the human and regal facets of the queen who "ruled as much from the heart as from the head."

    We see the regent's success and love for her people. Queen Elizabeth's ability to stand for long periods of time seems a metaphor for her triumph as regent. She manages uprisings in Ireland and continued assaults from Spain. She masterfully chooses advisors for her privy council perfectly suited to their jobs. In a nation beset with famine, the queen imbues calm. In an attempt to keep the plague under control, Elizabeth closes theaters and concerts and sends provisions to survivors. We view her humbly conduct an intimate ceremony of kissing and washing the feet of her subjects on Maundy Thursday while giving each gifts of food. No sovereign rules without frustrations. Queen Elizabeth's include controlling the sulking, deceitful Earl of Essex, stepson of her beloved Leicester. She juggles insufficient resources to provide food for the needy after three years of failed harvests. To provide her beloved kingdom with funds, she must decide which jewels to pawn. As she approaches the age of seventy, she persists in dodging the matter of her successor, not out of a lack of responsibility but because she wanted to settle it in her own way. She watches her most trusted advisors in the Privy Council die off one by one.

    The novel brilliantly illuminates Elizabeth's humanity without losing any reverence for her scepter. Called a stingy penny-pincher, the queen wore elaborate gowns and owned the finest collection of jewels in Europe. Her brave show encouraged the nation she pulled out of poverty. Particularly touching scenes depict her feeding broth and reading the Bible to beloved advisors Walsingham and Burghley on their deathbeds. She gallops on horseback across the fields to be alone and endures hot flashes. Not wanting a reminder of her age, she forbids any celebration of her sixtieth birthday. Her favorite pastime-translating philosophy from the Latin.

    George, a premier historical novelist, is known for her intense and impeccable research. Most interesting is her humble thanks to the queen in her Acknowledgements. ".the spirit of Elizabeth.hovered over the book as it was taking shape and whispered her guidance." Penguin Group provided a review copy. Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Virgin Queen ~ No Virgin Mind

    "Elizabeth I: A Novel" is a lush book, filled with fabulous details and intrigue from the Elizabethan court and the life of a young woman who was born into a responsibility which challenge she was expected to rise. Ms George's use of dialog and description draw us easily into her story. It's as if we are the proverbial "little birds" sitting on the shoulders of her characters, seeing and hearing all the private and mysterious secrets of Elizabeth, Lettice, her Deliahish cousin, and her beloved men think and do. Robert Dudley, Elizabeth's life-long love tugs at our hearts while we feel her longing and heartbreak over his loyalties, desires and, then betrayals. With the experience and exceptional qualities of a seasoned author, Ms George writes a book that is reader friendly, completely enchanting and absorbing and historically acurate where important. I had a very difficult time putting away ELIZABETH I even to go to sleep. A daunting book by any standards, with roughly 670 pages, this volume is thick and heavy. I happen to love that kind of book, personally. I find books of this ilk by tried and true authors ones I buy by sight...knowing it will be a reading experience and not just a quick hit. I could wax very art history and english lit. on the symbolism and beauty of the cover jacket of ELIZABETH, but I'll spare you. Just to look at the title on the jacket gives a tidbit of insight into the fine research of Ms George since it tells of the "z" as the Queen signed her own name. "Elizabeth I.." is a story that is so beautifully and historically captured that anyone who reads historical romance will be wise to read it to find the difference between formula novels and the real thing. There is a concerted difference between literature of this sort and that written for the light, supermarket stacks. The romance found in this book is rich and complex. I highly recommend Ms George's book because of its story that is easily understood, its flow of storyline, its portrayal of characters in a generation of heroes, fabulous courts and masters such as Shakespeare; and finally, for its easy and understandable link between Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake, and the fantastic battles that helped place England as the greatest nation of its time. I have generally read Margaret George's books in the Summer because I wanted time to savor them. It's a good time now to read this one. 5 stars...go get this volume for your library! Deborah/The Bookish Dame

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2011

    If you're in a Margaret George mood, choose one of her others!

    I've read all of Ms. George's novels. Autobiography of Henry VIII is in my top 5 favorite books of all time list. Elizabeth I is nowhere near that list. Boring, boring, boring. If I didn't have a personal rule of always finishing a book I start, I never would have wasted so much time on this one. It was so difficult to get through. There were a couple interesting parts from Lettice's perspective, but I sincerely hope that Elizabeth I was not such a boring lady. As people in the book died, I began to wonder whether it was from old age or from sheer boredom of being around Elizabeth. I really hope Ms. George bounces back in her next novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Epic Adventure about an Epic Lady~!!

    Elizabeth I: A Novel is a part fictional, part historical epic detailing one of England's favourite Monarch's.

    With much skill, Margaret George, explains the life of Queen Elizabeth during the final 20 years of her reign and her life. Told from two different viewpoints, Elizabeth herself and Elizabeth's younger look-a-like cousin, Lettice Knollys, the story explains to the reader how Elizabeth could have been. Few accounts of her personal life are remembered or recorded and much is left to the imagination of the reader however, we are shown a side of Elizabeth that allows us to view her insights, her character and those around her who helped shaped one of Britains's greatest royal persona's.

    Portraying her as the virginal queen who is wedded to her subjects, we are given an in depth look at Elizabeth's inner turmoils concerning, her age, her fight with Spain and Ireland and those in her court who would wish to usurp her as well as those who remain steadfast and loyal to her cause.

    We learn of her friendships to such historical people as Robert Dudley, John Dee, Grace O'Malley, Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, William Shakespeare and the people that she loved and adored. We watch as she determines to remain ageless while noticing those around her since childhood are dying. We feel her struggle to remain true to her faith, her people and the code she has set for herself. As well, we learn of Elizabeth's humanity, the inner thoughts that only oneself knows, and the actions that propelled her to do the things she did in the last remaining years of her life.

    I quite enjoyed Elizabeth I, when I first received it, I was thinking, another book about Elizabeth the first, blah blah blah. I was surprized to see the human soul of Elizabeth unfold upon the pages. From Margaret George's point of view, she was a dynamite of a lady, witty, sharp and determined. The inner thoughts of Elizabeth and about Elizabeth was refreshing and I felt she really captured Elizabeth's essence almost perfectly. However, I was disappointed that more of Elizabeth's character flaws weren't incorporated into the story, such as her tantrums and her flip flopping of ideas and strategies, for that is something about Elizabeth that is renowned, there were hints of it throughout the story, but for the most part, Elizabeth is shown in a positvie, human and yes, virginal light.

    I really came to dislike Robert Deveraux, the queen's pet and favourite and felt sorry for her cousin, Lettice, whose only fault that I could see was that she married Elizabeth's "love", Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. I would recommend this for any historical buffs, especially royal ones, you won't be disappointed in seeing the inner machinations of who the person whom Elizabeth may have become. It's a long read, sometimes a bit dry in places, but for the most part you will see a side of Elizabeth that must be shared.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    One might think that reading through 688 pages is daunting but I tend to prefer longer novels - they allow me to really reside in the book and get to know the characters. One of my favorite female heroines is Elizabeth the First and one of my favorite historical novelists is Margaret George so I figured this would be a perfect combination - and I right!

    The novel is co-narrated by Elizabeth herself and begins in 1588 as she enters late middle age . Co-narrator is her cousin, Lettice Knollys - the woman who had the audacity to actually marry the queen's main squeeze - Robert Dudley, The Earl of Leicester. Covering the last 25 years of Elizabeth's illustrious reign this book puts a very human face on the great Queen - complete with her need to keep notes to jog her memory, hot flashes that are troublesome, the sadness of the loss of more and more long time friends and trusted advisers.

    The characters are rounded out, well developed and made very human - among the stand-outs are William Shakespeare, Francis Drake, Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh, William and Robert Cecil and the indomitable Earl of Essex - Robert Deveraux, the step-son of Robert Dudley and the son of Lettice Knollys- who Elizabeth had taken under her wing and upon whom she had lavished many rewards and titles.

    The book follows Elizabeth commitment - she is wedded to her country and it's people rather to any man of her choosing - and Lettice who lives a passion filled life of loves and losses. Lettice was banished from the Court upon her marriage to Robert Dudley and the book follows the querulous nature of their relationship and the gradual thawing of the Queen's displeasure as the pair meet on common ground - the garden of Hever castle - former home of their forbears - Anne and Mary Boleyn.

    Also featured in the book is Elizabeth's life long friend and confident Catherine Knollys, wife of Sir Francis Knollys and daughter of Mary Boleyn (Lettice Knollys was Mary's grand daughter). Catherine, in the book, is considered the family peace maker. We feel the threat of the Spanish Armada and the Irish threat of the great O'Neill, Lord of Tyrone. All of the political fears and skirmishes of the time are brought to light almost like having a ear on history - like being a fly on the walls of Whitehall and Richmond Palaces. Riveting stuff!

    This book is meticulously well researched and it paints a vivid image of what it must have been to be Elizabeth, The Virgin Queen. Historical details bring the period to life and the characters are almost 'touchable'. I loved this book and will, I think, choose to also listen the audible version. I found that Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" really came thoroughly to life when I listened it...and think listening to this book might really highlight my delight with the book even more.

    If anything - I would have liked this novel to go on longer. I savored the last pages of this book and was saddened when I finished the last page. It's a book I will, no doubt, re-read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 6, 2011

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    Posted July 18, 2011

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    Posted March 27, 2011

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