Redheaded Princess

( 8 )


Growing up, Elizabeth fears she can never be Queen. Although she is the King's daughter, no woman can ever hope to rule over men in England, especially when her mother has been executed for treason.

For all her royal blood, Elizabeth's life is fraught with danger and uncertainty. Sometimes she is welcome in the royal court; other times she is cast out into the countryside. With her position constantly changing, the Princess must navigate a sea of shifting loyalties and dangerous...

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Growing up, Elizabeth fears she can never be Queen. Although she is the King's daughter, no woman can ever hope to rule over men in England, especially when her mother has been executed for treason.

For all her royal blood, Elizabeth's life is fraught with danger and uncertainty. Sometimes she is welcome in the royal court; other times she is cast out into the countryside. With her position constantly changing, the Princess must navigate a sea of shifting loyalties and dangerous affections. At stake is her life—for beheading is not uncommon among the factions that war for the Crown.

With the vivid human touch that has made her one of the foremost writers of historical fiction, Ann Rinaldi brings to life the heart and soul of the young Elizabeth I. It's a portrait of a great leader as she may have been as she found her way to the glorious destiny that lay before her.

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Editorial Reviews

Detroit Free Press
“Fascinating...compelling and engaging.”
Booklist (starred review)
“The rich scene-setting and believable, appealing heroine will satisfy Rinaldi’s many fans”
Children's Literature - L. A. Gallaway
In this novel, Ann Rinaldi, author of A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials, The Fifth of March: A Story about the Boston Massacre, and thirty other novels about American history uses her talent for historical writing to bring to life the story of Elizabeth I. This is Rinaldi's first historical novel about British history. It is well-researched, and while Rinaldi has some difficulty establishing an age-appropriate voice for the young Elizabeth I, she more than compensates for this in her manner of seamlessly interweaving historically-accurate details into a fascinating, quickly-paced plot. In addition, Rinaldi's use of sensory details brings a sense of vibrancy to this story that keeps readers engaged. The book begins in 1542, at a time when Elizabeth (at that time Lady Elizabeth, age nine) was out of favor with her father, King Henry VIII. She lived in Hatfield with her nanny and was, for the most part, ignored by the king. Despite her humble beginnings, Elizabeth knew in her heart that she would one day be the queen. This knowledge and desire are the driving forces that help her through all of the adversities she faces while growing up. She learns, not only from her studies with private tutors, but more importantly, from the mistakes of the brother and sister who precede her at the throne. This story of intrigue begins with Elizabeth at age nine and progresses to her growing up and becoming the Queen of England. It is an interesting, well-written book about her life before becoming Queen. Reviewer: L. A. Gallaway
This is the story of Elizabeth I when she was a child and teenager, ending when she becomes queen. Rinaldi writes a lot of historical fiction for YAs and knows how to tell a good story. I've reviewed a similar book in The Royal Diaries series, Elizabeth I, by Kathryn Lasky. The benefit of these books is to give YAs who like historical fiction some idea of the period of history. Elizabeth's period was a time of great religious conflict, since so many of her travails had to do with the struggle for power between Catholics and Protestants. She certainly was one of the most remarkable women in history, and Rinaldi's entertaining account of her formative experiences as a child and young person might inspire YAs to read further. Age Range: Ages 12 to 18. REVIEWER: Claire Rosser (Vol. 42, No. 1)
Rinaldi again brings a character from history to life in this entertaining story of Elizabeth I from age nine to her ascension to the throne. The author turns from her usual focus on lesser-known members of American history to present a great character from English history in a less familiar time. She conveys her readable style to Elizabeth's early biography, and brings Renaissance England to life. Although fans of Rinaldi's work (including this reviewer) will be happy with the book, there are a few caveats to keep in mind when recommending it. First, Elizabeth, despite being called the Virgin Queen, did not live a chaste life. Her run-ins with Sir Thomas, her eventual stepfather, bring up questions of statutory sexual abuse despite Elizabeth's own eager participation. Second, based on Rinaldi's reputation and the period style of speech and writing in the text, the reader may believe that much of the book is taken straight from historical records. Unfortunately the author's note at the end of the book is not as detailed in dividing fact from fiction as one might expect. Nevertheless the book is a treat and a quick, fun read, but it is historical fiction with an emphasis on the latter. Reviewer: Beth Karpas
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8- This novel explores the life of one of history's most intriguing figures, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Told in her voice, the story follows her from when she was nine until the death of her half sister, Queen Mary, and her ascension to the throne. Raised in a time marked by political intrigue and power struggles, Elizabeth is taught to trust no one and lives in a constant state of instability, knowing that her existence is at the whim of whomever is in power. The author credits Elizabeth's survival to her intelligence and supportive advisers and effectively represents her burgeoning understanding of how to play the games necessary to stay alive. Her emotional life is believably depicted as well. She has a lifelong affection for Robin Dudley and, though she knows it's inappropriate, she is easily flattered by the attention of Sir Thomas Seymour. Rinaldi's writing style is accessible, and the integration of background material is smooth. The author characterizes Elizabeth as a more vulnerable person than does Carolyn Meyer in Beware, Princess Elizabeth (Harcourt, 2001), but both books are enjoyable. For a more complete picture of Tudor history, direct readers to Rinaldi's Nine Days a Queen (HarperCollins, 2005), about Lady Jane Grey, and Meyer's Mary, Bloody Mary (Harcourt, 1999).-Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Fans of Rinaldi’s work will be happy with this book...the book is a treat.”
"The rich scene-setting and believable, appealing heroine will satisfy Rinaldi’s many fans"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060733742
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/29/2008
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 464,389
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann rinaldi is known by her many fans for her richly satisfying historical fiction. Eight of her novels have been named ALA Best Books for Young Adults, including Time Enough For Drums, The Last Silk Dress, A Break With Charity, and Wolf By the Ears. Author of more than thirty books for young readers, including a book in the Dear America series, she was awarded the National History Award by the Daughters of the American Revolution. She lives in Somerville, New Jersey.

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Read an Excerpt

The Redheaded Princess
A Novel

Chapter One

Of course I knew I couldn't be Queen. No woman could ever rule over men in England. I had known that since I was three years old. But for days on end, I would sometimes pretend I was Queen. I would order about the rest of my household in what everyone knew was a game. I'd order about my knights, James and Richard Vernon, who were sons of a local squire, and Sir John Chertsey, a young knight of the shire. They were most faithful to me and out of earshot of my nurse, Cat Ashley, would call me Your Highness.

If Cat Ashley caught me, she would scold. "Pretending you are Queen is a dangerous game," she'd say, and then to the knights who were kneeling about me, "and you should know better than to encourage her."

So I'd pretend I was a witch. They say my mother, Anne Boleyn, was a witch. She had the tiniest hint of a sixth finger on her left hand, truly the sign of a witch. And she had special long sleeves attached to her gowns to try to hide it. So it became a fashion to have such a gown and the whole palace of women wanted such. And then there is the way they say she bewitched my father, not wanting to become his mistress like every other woman in court, but staying distant enough to drive him mad while she held out for marriage.

When Cat Ashley caught me at that game, she decided I should have lessons in behavior in case I was summoned to court. I must learn to kneel at my father's feet, to look him square in the eye, to show him I was fearless, yet be respectful at the same time.

"He hates cowardly children," she told me.

Besides my dear friend Robin Dudley, whom Isaw only on occasion, I didn't have many playmates. There was my half brother, Edward, to be sure, but he was still a baby. Cousin Jane Grey was a mousy little creature, always reading her Bible and praying. She shirked at playing archery or quoits or any outdoor game at all. She hated horseback riding, which I loved.

My half sister, Mary, was seventeen years older than I and was appointed to attend me for a while because she and her mother (who had been put aside for my mother) were out of favor. But that was a royal failure. There Mary was, at seventeen, and her household was broken up around her and she was brought to Hatfield to wait upon me. What followed I do not much recall, but they tell me she refused to call me Princess or curtsey to me. She refused to eat. She spent hours in her room crying. Our father, in turn, took away her jewels. But with determination worthy of our lionhearted father, she won. She would wait on me and play with me, but she won because she never called me Princess and never curtseyed to me.

Finally she was relieved of her job, and things have never been the same between us since.

Only Robin Dudley was my true friend. Oh, the rides we have had together! Even at nine we were both experts with horses. He was frequently allowed to visit me at Hatfield, and the few times I went to court he was there, smoothing the way of things for me.

My clothing, while I was growing up at Hatfield, was on the shabby side. My father never sent fabrics for proper attire. Frequently Cat Ashley would write to court to beg an allowance or some fabric to dress me as I was supposed to be dressed. But there was never any response, and she had to make do with what she had. Somehow she always kept a special dress for me for in case I was summoned to court. Many were outgrown before they were used. But we always had to be ready.

I had been to court as a baby, I was told, and then again when I was four for the christening of my brother, Edward. At that time I was too young to take part in the procession and had to be carried by Sir Thomas Seymour.

Sir Thomas was brother to Jane Seymour, who was my brother Edward's mother. He was so dashing, so handsome. Every woman at court was in love with him. Even at four, I was too. I sensed this man was special, a courtier for all seasons. I have been in love with him ever since, and every time I go to court I hope to see him, but I am not always so fortunate.

Here is a puzzle. They are saying that Sir Thomas is in love with Katharine Parr, who is now to wed my father. But once my father claimed his right with her, Sir Thomas wouldn't even dance with her at court anymore. Not because he was angry, but because they were both afraid the King would suspect their love. Sir Thomas knows he has no rights to Katharine Parr while the King claims her, so he keeps his distance. Oh, isn't that a romantic story? It gives me the chills.

When I was seven, I went back to court again, for my father married Catherine Howard, my cousin, who was just eighteen. I loved Catherine. Her clothes were in the French fashion and my father gave her many jewels. She was young and frivolous and my father was besotted with her. And she spoiled me and gave me many presents.

But one day, when she and her ladies were practicing dancing, the guards came and told her: "It is no more time to dance." And they took her away. Because my father had been told she had committed adultery.

It is her beheading that haunts me more than my mother's. When my mother was beheaded, I was too . . .

The Redheaded Princess
A Novel
. Copyright © by Ann Rinaldi. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 9, 2010

    Who doesn't love a princess :)

    This book is one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is about Queen Elizibeth before she was "Queen Elizibeth". You may think it sounds dum, but it really isn't. I mean why wouldn't you read this. Who doesn't love a princess?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2009

    If only more history books were like this...

    This book kept me enthralled the whole way through. I love books that can actually teach me something, but in a way that I will remember and enjoy. This is one of those books.

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  • Posted November 14, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by The Compulsive Reader for

    In Rinaldi's spectacular new book for young adults, she's moved beyond American history to British, and the tale of a young redheaded girl who yearned to be queen. <BR/><BR/>Despised by her father and sister, shoved aside by the nation's leaders, and motherless, young Elizabeth I grows up at her country estate where she learns from a young age the dangers of crossing paths with monarchs. She realizes that even though her sister and her brother stand between her and the Crown, she will one day be queen. <BR/><BR/>THE REDHEADED PRINCESS is her sharp, fast-paced, and beautifully wrought story of how that came to be. <BR/><BR/>Wonderfully detailed and breathtakingly accurate, this is perhaps the most engaging book that tells of Elizabeth's plights and triumphs.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fine biographical fiction

    In 1533, serendipitously Ann Boleyn secretly marred King Henry VIII while they waited for his the Archbishop of Canterbury to affirm his divorce from Catherine of Aragon before announcing their wedding. Nine moths later she gave birth to Elizabeth Tudor, his second daughter. In 1536 Henry accused his second wife of adultery with her brother and others. She was incarcerated in the Tower of London before being convicted and beheaded. Although an infant when her mom died, Elizbath had learned early on the virtue of caution as she navigates her father¿s court. Over the years she failed at ever pleasing her sire, but when he died her older brother took the throne. Elizabeth found her life improved until a sick Edward died placing her step sister devout Catholic ¿Bloody Mary¿ on the throne. Even as she once again walks cautiously Bess expects to one day be the Queen of England and rule in a strong way that would make her late father finally proud of her accomplishments. --- This fine biographical fiction tale targets the preadolescent female with her humanizing Queen Elizabeth I. The audience learns what motivated the princess to be the best that she can be once on the throne and how she survived her father executing her mother and her step-sister¿s religious fanaticism. Although obviously slanted in an Elizabethan Era direction, Ann Rinaldi provides a deep look at the soul of THE RED-HAIRED PRINCESS who one day became one of England¿s most influential rulers. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    Once I read the back of the book , I really lost interest, but the beautiful cover forced me to read 'The RedHeaded Princess.' Of course it started off slow, yet what book doesn't! After the first couple of chapters I personally couldn't put it down. The love that was proven to me by words was amazing. The main charecter and red headed princess, young Elizabeth was loved from the devoted loyalists and from the men who desired her. Her family had problems, still the pretty princess was strong. Such pride she had, being almost queen, she was a great role model to all her teen girls of England. If you know what's right for you, you'll read the 'Redheaded Princess.' I promise you, you will enjoy every love twist.

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    Posted July 9, 2011

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    Posted September 5, 2009

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    Posted November 8, 2010

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