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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Move over, David Starkey and Alison Weir. The deadly rivalry between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, gets a fresh retelling in Jane Dunn's majestic work, a riveting tale about the battle for the English throne that's rich with period detail and canny psychological insight.
Dunn's elegant narrative remains tightly focused on the relationship between these two women whose characters and backgrounds were so dramatically different. A queen from birth, the extraordinarily charismatic Mary was secure in her sovereignty. Pampered and impetuous, she was also surprisingly conventional and susceptible to manipulation. By contrast, Elizabeth learned early to live by her wits. As the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she was raised in an atmosphere of struggle and precarious uncertainty that taught her lifelong lessons in survival and diplomacy and proved a valuable apprenticeship for her reign as England's queen.
Using a wealth of source material, the author reconstructs a 16th-century world rife with superstition, intrigue, and religious dissent. She also uncovers surprising qualities in both women. In the emotionally reckless Mary we confront unexpected craft and ruthlessness; and in steely, disciplined Elizabeth, ambivalence, insecurity, and great reservoirs of tenderness and affection. Ruled by her heart, Mary placed love above duty and lost her head. Ruled by her head, Elizabeth refused to forfeit power for the sake of married love and paid the price in loneliness. Elizabeth & Mary weaves a fascinating, insightful tale, earning its place on the list of must-reads about this scintillating period of history.