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The Queen's Bastard
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The Queen's Bastard

4.0 22
by Robin Maxwell
 

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Historians have long whispered that Elizabeth "the Virgin Queen's" passionate, lifelong affair with Robin Dudley, Earl of Leicester, may have led to the birth of a son, Arthur Dudley. In this exquisite sequel to The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, Robin Maxwell fashions a stunning fictional account of the child switched at birth by a lady-in-waiting who foresaw

Overview

Historians have long whispered that Elizabeth "the Virgin Queen's" passionate, lifelong affair with Robin Dudley, Earl of Leicester, may have led to the birth of a son, Arthur Dudley. In this exquisite sequel to The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, Robin Maxwell fashions a stunning fictional account of the child switched at birth by a lady-in-waiting who foresaw the deleterious political consequences of a royal bastard.
Set against the sweeping, meticulously rendered backdrop of court intrigues, international scandals, and England's battle against the Spanish Armada, The Queen's Bastard deftly juxtaposes Elizabeth and Leicester's tumultuous relationship with the memoirs of the adventurous son lost to them — yet ultimately discovered.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred review Electrifying prose...enthralling historical fiction.

Julia Barrett author of Presumption and The Third Sister Robin Maxwell is a storyteller who manages a rare originality in a period that has been done and done again. She has given us a glimpse into the tragic affair of the heart between Elizabeth and Robin Dudley. And by introducing us to the person of Arthur Dudley, she had defied stodgy academics, who would have kept us from knowing that such a character existed. Her plausible tale has allowed us to decide for ourselves if Arthur was, in fact, Elizabeth and Leicester's illegitimate son.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Maxwell's second novel (after The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn) breathes extraordinary life into the scandals, political intrigue and gut-wrenching battles that typified Queen Elizabeth's reign--as seen through the eyes of Arthur Dudley, the man who may have been the illegitimate progeny of the Virgin Queen and her beloved Master of the Horse, Robin Dudley. Arthur's first-person narration is cleverly juxtaposed with third-person dramatization of significant events in the queen's life, bringing an intricate authenticity to the possibility that Elizabeth gave birth to a bastard son. Maxwell's research examines the biographical gaps in, and documented facts about, the queen's life, making this incredible tale plausible, and the author aptly embellishes her story with rich period details and the epic dramas of the late 16th century. Switched at birth with a baby's corpse by a lady-in-waiting who foresaw the disastrous political consequences of a royal bastard, the infant is raised in the English countryside, where he is abused by his adoptive mother. Only his adoptive father, Robert Southern, knows his true background, and it is only when Southern lies dying that he reveals the secret to Arthur. The circumstances leading to Arthur's reunion with his father and finally his mother range from the young man's military training in Wales and encampment in the Netherlands to his post as a spy in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, all played out against the backdrop of England's defeat of the Spanish Armada. The novel falters only with an abundance of references to Anne Boleyn's diary (coy allusions to the author's first novel), but this minor affectation defuses none of the powerfully lascivious intersections of sexual and international politics that, combined with Maxwell's electrifying prose, here make for enthralling historical fiction. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Maxwell's second novel is a sequel that, like The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn (LJ 3/15/97), posits a historically unlikely but interesting premise. The reader is asked to believe that Queen Elizabeth I gave birth secretly to a boy, Arthur, son of Robin Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and that loyal servants tricked these parents into thinking their baby was stillborn. To save the queen's honor, Arthur was spirited away and raised by a trusted country gentleman. The story moves effectively from the royal court, where Elizabeth continually thwarts Dudley's proposals of marriage, to the country, where Arthur, ignorant of his lineage, grows to be an excellent horseman and cavalry officer. Set against the historical backdrop of England's antipathy with Spain over its brutal war against the Dutch, the novel provides authentic details of hardships endured both by soldiers and towns under siege. Although created out of "what if" whimsy, the book is well-researched and laced with plausible dialog and absorbing narrative. The success of Maxwell's first book and a revived interest in the Elizabethan age make this novel highly recommended for fiction collections.--Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
In Maxwell's first novel, The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn (1997), Queen Elizabeth discovered her beheaded mother's diary with its injunction, "Never relinquish control to any man." The Virgin Queen did not take this advice entirely to heart, according to this sequel tailor-made for moviegoers now delighting in Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love. The novel's premise is plausible enough for the genre: As the Spanish Armada prepares to invade England in 1588, the young queen takes as her lover Robin Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and they conceive a son. Born amid fury of storm and flush of lightning, Arthur Dudley lives but is switched at birth with a stillborn child and raised as a country gentleman; Elizabeth thinks him dead. Can she and Robin have another? "No, my love," the queen tells him. "That was the child with which destiny gifted us and saw fit to withdraw." "Then I defy destiny!" Robin cries, his voice ringing to the highest heavens of historical fiction as he crushes Elizabeth to him. Their passion for each other is lifelong, but they do not have another child. Meanwhile, Arthur grows to manhood deeply in love with horses; eventually, his romantic dreaminess leads him to Spain, where he's imprisoned and narrowly escapes death by auto-da-fé. Does Elizabeth ever meet her adult son? Can a writer skip an obligatory scene?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684857602
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
06/28/2000
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My Father is dead and my Mother is Queen of England.

The handwriting on the first page of the blue leather journal was bold in stroke and plain in design. The author, a tall, powerfully built man, gazed out across the vast expanse of sea, his red-gold hair whipping sharply round a strong-boned jaw. The face was deeply lined and ruggedly handsome, With searing black eyes that blazed with a fine intelligence. As he steadied the volume he held upon his knees, he hoped the ocean would remain calm and the winds too, for he was unused to such writing, and was hard pressed enough putting his thoughts to paper without this tilting ship sending his inkwell flying or the pages flapping about in the breeze.

Far off to starboard a flock of gulls in straggling formation caught his gaze. Probably making for the Canary Isles, he thought, but a long way for gulls to be from land. Dipping his quill in the inkwell at his knee, he began again, considering each word before committing it to the vellum page.

My name is Arthur Dudley, he wrote. These are words which ring to my own ears as strange and ungainly, but they are nevertheless good and true. That which follows is not a diary, for until the events of several years past I had thought so little of my own life and condition that the conceit of journal keep ing had entered my mind never once. Instead, this document constitutes the twenty-seven years of my history as best I remember it. A memoir. Tis odd that such a plain lift as m y own should be worthy of remembrance. But as I have said, I am the son of a Queen and therefore mentionable.

The creak of the sails on the mizzen as the wind shifted pulled him sharply back to the deck, the day, the sun dipping toward the western horizon. He sought the flock of gulls, but they were no longer off to starboard, nor were they dead ahead where he expected they would have traveled. How could this be? The birds had been in the air a moment before. He scanned the sky round him. There! The flock was a diminishing speck still flying low, but off the port side.

"I have been lost," said Arthur to himself, "lost within the words I have been writing." Time, he realized with a pang, had simply vanished, gone whilst within the thrall of memory — a bit of natural magic. Arthur Dudley smiled with the thought. Each day of his voyage to the New World he could write his life, and for those few moments would become a conjurer of time.

Copyright © 1999 by Robin Marshall

What People are Saying About This

Julia Barrett
Robin Maxwell is a storyteller who manages a rare originality in a period that has been done and done again. She has given us a glimpse into the tragic affair of the heart between Elizabeth and Robin Dudley. And by introducing us to the person of Arthur Dudley, she had defied stodgy academics, who would have kept us from knowing that such a character existed. Her plausible tale has allowed us to decide for ourselves if Arthur was, in fact, Elizabeth and Leicester's illegitimate son.
—(Julia Barrett, author of Presumption and The Third Sister)

Meet the Author

Robin Maxwell is the author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn. She lives in California and is currently working on a prequel to The Queen's Bastard.

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Queen's Bastard 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't get me wrong- the story is entertaining enough. I think...but it's hard to follow when the book has so many grammatical errors. I can see an error here and there being overlooked by editing, but to consistently see the misuse and non-use of basic punctuation such as apostrophes is so distracting that I actually had to discard the book. I don't recall Ms. Maxwell's other work being so poorly written and edited, soI would have to suggest she find a proof-reader who will actually proof read. In all honesty- my third grader can write with better form than this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading so many books on Robert Dudley and Queen elizabelth I felt this story very possible and it was captivating on many levels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great. All 3 in the trilogy are good, but this one stands out as the best. Maxwell paints a vivid picture of how Queen Elizabeth could have had a child secretly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book!! If you are at all interested in the Elizabethan period, read The Diary of Anne Boelyn first! Paired, these are excellent! I highly recommend this to anyone!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Queen's Bastard' was a fabulous book. It percectly describes the life an illegitamate son of a Elizabeth 1 could have led. The relationship between Robin Dudley and Elizabeth is presented equally well.
cqdave More than 1 year ago
I wa so excited about this book. If I saw it at a bookfair I wouldn't give .50 for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is ok. But the book is to long.