Following the tremendous success of her first novel, Innocent Traitor, which recounted the riveting tale of the doomed Lady Jane Grey, acclaimed historian and New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir turns her masterly storytelling skills to the early life of young Elizabeth Tudor, who would grow up to become England’s most intriguing and powerful queen.
Even at age two, Elizabeth is keenly aware that people in the court of her father, King Henry VIII, have stopped referring to her as “Lady Princess” and now call her “the Lady Elizabeth.” Before she is three, she learns of the tragic fate that has befallen her mother, the enigmatic and seductive Anne Boleyn, and that she herself has been declared illegitimate, an injustice that will haunt her.
What comes next is a succession of stepmothers, bringing with them glimpses of love, fleeting security, tempestuous conflict, and tragedy. The death of her father puts the teenage Elizabeth in greater peril, leaving her at the mercy of ambitious and unscrupulous men. Like her mother two decades earlier she is imprisoned in the Tower of London—and fears she will also meet her mother’s grisly end. Power-driven politics, private scandal and public gossip, a disputed succession, and the grievous example of her sister, “Bloody” Queen Mary, all cement Elizabeth’s resolve in matters of statecraft and love, and set the stage for her transformation into the iconic Virgin Queen.
Alison Weir uses her deft talents as historian and novelist to exquisitely and suspensefully play out the conflicts between family, politics, religion, and conscience that came to define an age. Sweeping in scope, The Lady Elizabeth is a fascinating portrayal of a woman far ahead of her time—an orphaned girl haunted by the shadow of the axe, an independent spirit who must use her cunning and wits for her very survival, and a future queen whose dangerous and dramatic path to the throne shapes her future greatness.
About the Author
Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of the novel Innocent Traitor, and several historical biographies, including Henry VIII, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Life of Elizabeth, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII. She lives in Surrey, England with her husband and two children.
Read an Excerpt
On a hot, still morning in July, the Lady Mary, daughter to King Henry the Eighth, arrived at the great country palace of Hatfield, trotting into the courtyard on a white palfrey followed by four gentlemen, two ladies-in-waiting, and a female fool.
As soon as she had dismounted, she stooped to kiss the small girl who was waiting to greet her, whose nurse had just reminded her to sketch a wobbly curtsy to the older sister she had not seen for many months. The child was solemn-faced, fair-skinned, and freckled, with long tendrils of burnished red hair escaping from the embroidered white coif that was tied beneath her chin.
“My, you have grown, sweeting!” Mary exclaimed in her gruff voice, stroking Elizabeth’s hair and straightening her silver pendant. “You’re nearly three now, aren’t you?” Elizabeth stared back, unsure of this richly dressed lady with the sad face and skinny body. Mary was not beautiful like Elizabeth’s mother: Mary had a snub nose and a downturned mouth, and although her hair was red like Elizabeth’s and their father’s, it was thin and frizzy. And of course, Mary was very old—all of twenty years, she had been told.
“I have brought you gifts, Sister,” Mary said, smiling and beckoning to a lady-in-waiting, who brought over a wooden box. Inside, wrapped in velvet, was a rosary of amber beads and a jeweled crucifix.
“For your chapel,” Mary said, pointing to the latter.
“Pretty,” said Elizabeth, gently fingering the beads.
“How does my sister, Lady Bryan?” Mary rose to her feet and greeted the governess with a kiss. “And you yourself? It is good to see you again, but I would it were in happier circumstances.”
“I too, my Lady Mary. We are well enough, both of us, I thank you,” the woman answered.
Elizabeth, watching them, was slightly discomfited by their words and curious at seeing a pained expression fleetingly shadow Mary’s plain features.
“I will speak with her presently,” her sister said. Lady Bryan nodded.
“I am grateful, Your Grace,” she said. “I pray you eat first, for it is nigh to eleven o’clock and dinner is almost ready.” Elizabeth was no longer listening; her attention had now focused on her new beads.
“I have brought my fool, to afford a diversion later, if need be,” Mary said, and Elizabeth’s ears pricked up. She liked fools. They were funny.
While the roast goose and hot salad were being served with appropriate ceremony to Mary in the great hall, Elizabeth was sent to the nursery to have her dinner.
“I hope Your Grace will excuse us,” the nurse said to the Lady Mary. “The Lady Elizabeth’s Grace is too young as yet to eat with the grown- ups.” After being pressed into another curtsy, the child was led away by the hand.
As soon as she had gone, Mary laid down her knife and shook her head sadly.
“I hardly know how I am going to tell her, Margaret,” she said miserably, looking to her former governess for support.
Lady Bryan rested a comforting hand on hers.
“I wouldn’t be too explicit if I were you, Madam.”
“Oh, no,” agreed Mary fervently. “Does she often speak of her mother? Do you think she will be much discomforted? After all, she cannot have seen much of her.”
“I’m afraid she did. Her Grace—I mean the lady her mother—kept the child with her, more than was seemly for a queen. If you remember, she even refused to have a wet nurse,” Lady Bryan recalled with a sniff of disapproval.
Mary looked at her with mounting anxiety. She was dreading the coming confrontation.
“Do you think she will understand?” she asked.
“There is much she understands,” Lady Bryan replied. “My lady is more than ordinarily precocious. As sharp as nails, that child, and clever with it.”
“But a child for all that,” Mary said, “so I will break it to her as gently as I can, and may our Holy Mother and all the saints help me.”
Seeing her so distressed, Lady Bryan sought to steer the conversation away from the subject, but while she and Sir John chattered on about household matters and the state of the weather, and while all of them toyed with their food, having little appetite for it, Mary, her heart swelling with love and compassion for her little sister, could only think of the heavy task that lay ahead of her.
Why should she feel this way? she asked herself. Why had she agreed to come here and perform this dreadful errand? Elizabeth’s very existence had caused her untold pain and suffering, and it was because of Elizabeth’s mother, that great whore, Anne Boleyn, that Mary had lost all that she held dear in life: her own mother, the late sainted Queen Katherine, her rank, her prospects of a throne and marriage, and the love of her father the King. Yet Mary had found nothing to resent in an innocent child, had in fact lavished all the love of which she was capable on the engaging little creature, and now, when the perilous twists of cruel fate had reversed Elizabeth’s fortunes too, she could only grieve for the little girl.
As soon as the meal was finished, Elizabeth was brought back to her sister, and together they walked in the sun-browned park, away from the palace, their attendants following a short distance behind. The daystar was blazing down, there was barely the stir of a breeze, and the sisters were sweltering in their long-sleeved silk gowns; Elizabeth was glad of her wide-brimmed straw hat, which protected her face from the sunshine and the glare, while Mary, wearing a smart French hood with a band under the chin, was suffering decorously. Her lips were pursed, and she looked unhappy, Elizabeth noticed.
“You have been much in my thoughts, Sister,” Mary said. “I had to come and see you, to satisfy myself that all was well with you, and . . .” Her voice trailed away.
“Thank you, Sister,” Elizabeth replied. Again, Mary caressed the long red curls that fanned out beneath the sun hat; again, she looked unutterably sad. Young as she was, the child could sense her misery.
“What’s wrong?” Elizabeth asked. “Why are you unhappy?”
“Oh, my dear Sister,” Mary cried, sinking to her knees on the grass and embracing Elizabeth tightly. Elizabeth struggled free. She did not like to be squeezed like that; she was a self-contained child. Yet Mary did not notice, for she was weeping. Elizabeth could see Lady Bryan watching them intently, standing a little way off with Mary’s ladies and the nursemaids, and she was puzzled as to why her governess did not hasten to her rescue.
“Come, Sister,” Mary was saying, sniffing and dabbing her eyes with a white kerchief. “Let us sit here.” She drew Elizabeth to a stone seat that had been placed in the shade of an oak tree to afford those who rested there a grand view of the red-brick palace spread out beyond the formal gardens, and lifted the child onto it.
“I am charged by our father to tell you something that will make you very sad,” Mary said. “You must be a brave girl . . . as I too have had to be brave in my time.”
“I am brave,” Elizabeth assured her, none too confidently, wondering fearfully what this was all about.
Nothing had changed outwardly—her daily routine had remained the same, and the people in her household still curtsied to her and treated her with deference. If it hadn’t been for something her governor had said, she would not have realized there was anything untoward. But she was a sharp child, and the change of title did not go unnoticed.
“Why, governor,” she had asked Sir John Shelton, in her clear, well- modulated voice, “why is it that yesterday you called me Lady Princess, and today just Lady Elizabeth?”
Caught off guard, Sir John Shelton had pulled at his luxuriant chestnut beard, frowned, and hesitated, while Elizabeth stood before him, her steely gaze imperiously demanding a response. Not for the first time, he was struck by this regal quality in her, which in his opinion was unsuited to the female condition but would have been admirable in a prince, the prince that England so desperately needed.
“The King your father has ordered it,” he said carefully.
“Why?” asked the child, her dark eyes narrowing.
“The King’s orders must always be obeyed,” he declared.
The little face clouded, the lips pouting, the brows furrowing. Sir John had sidestepped the question, but Elizabeth was determined not to let him off so easily. At that moment, mercifully for him, Lady Bryan entered the room. Always immaculate in her dark velvet gowns, with never a hair nor any detail of dress out of place, she had been ruling her army of nursemaids, servants, and household officers with quiet authority since her royal charge had been given her own establishment at the age of three months.
Lady Bryan was carrying a pile of freshly laundered linen strewn with herbs, heading for the carved chest that stood at the foot of Elizabeth’s bed. Seeing Sir John, who had overall charge of the household, she dipped a neat curtsy without in any way sacrificing her dignity, then bent to her task. But Elizabeth was tugging at her skirts. Surely her governess, who knew everything, would tell her the answer to her question.
“My lady,” she pleaded, “I have asked Sir John why he called me Lady Princess yesterday, and Lady Elizabeth today. Why is that?”
Elizabeth was stunned to see tears well up in her governess’s eyes. Lady Bryan, who was always so calm, so composed, so in control—was she
really about to cry? She, who was always instructing Elizabeth that a lady never betrayed her feelings, never laughed too loudly or gave way to tears. It was unimaginable, and thus shocking. But perhaps she had imagined it, for when she looked again, Lady Bryan was perfectly in command of herself.
“You have a new title, my Lady Elizabeth,” she said, in a voice that was clearly meant to reassure. “The King’s Highness has decreed it.”
“But why?” persisted the child. She had a sense of things hidden from her . . .
“I’m sure the King has very good reasons,” answered Lady Bryan in a tone that forbade further discussion. “Now, where are those dolls you were playing with earlier?”
“I put them to bed,” said Elizabeth, plainly not interested.
“In the morning? The very idea!” exclaimed her governess. “Look, I’ve got some pretty silks in my basket, and some scraps of Holland cloth. Go and fetch your best doll, and I’ll help you to make a cap for her.”
Elizabeth toddled reluctantly to the miniature cradle by her bed. It was clear that the answers to her questions would not be forthcoming.
Elizabeth often sat with her governess, being taught the things that all well-brought-up little girls needed to know. They might look at the vivid pictures in one of the beautifully illuminated books that the King had provided, or sort through embroidery silks, Lady Bryan allowing the child to pick the colors herself. Then she would teach Elizabeth how to make rows of different stitches. Elizabeth learned this quickly, as she learned everything. Already, she knew her alphabet, and her numbers up to one hundred, and in chapel she was already striving to understand the Latin rubric of the Mass.
“What is Father Matthew saying?” she would pipe up, ever inquisitive, and Lady Bryan would put a finger to her lips and explain patiently, murmuring in a low voice. Afterward, Elizabeth would pester the chaplain, urging him to teach her the words and phrases that so intrigued her.
“I do declare that my Lady Princess has the gift of languages,” he told Sir John Shelton and Lady Bryan, and indeed he appeared to be right, for Elizabeth had just to hear a thing said once and she had it by heart.
When the embroidering palled—after all, Elizabeth was only in her third year, and her quick, darting mind was always flitting on to the next thing—Lady Bryan would see to it that her day was filled with distractions: a walk in the great wide park of Hatfield, a visit to the stables to see her dappled pony, or a spell in the kitchens to watch the cook making marchpane, which she was allowed to sample after it had cooled; the child had an inordinately sweet tooth. Then a story—nothing too somber, but perhaps that old tale of Master Chaucer’s about Chanticleer the cock, which always made Elizabeth laugh out loud; and after this, a light supper of pottage and bread, then prayers and bedtime.
Once Elizabeth was settled in her comfortable bed, with its feather mattress, crisp heavy linen, rich velvet counterpane and curtains, and the arms of England embroidered on its tester, Lady Bryan would sign the cross on her forehead then leave her to go to sleep, settling herself with a book in a high-backed chair by the fire, a candle flickering at her side. The room would be warm, and soon she herself would be slumbering, her book abandoned on her lap.
Elizabeth, however, would lie wide awake, her fertile mind active, puzzling over the mysteries and marvels of her life . . .
Her earliest memories were of her father. Her big, magnificent father, King Harry the Eighth, the most wonderful being in the world. It was Elizabeth’s greatest grief that she did not see him very often. The rare occasions on which he visited her at Hatfield were the most exciting days of all. God-like in his rich velvets and furs, his jewels and chains, he would chuck her under the chin, then swing her up in the air and whirl her around, she shrieking with delight, her beribboned cap askew and her long red tresses flying.
“How does my little Bessy?” he would inquire. “Are they keeping you hard at your books and your prayers, or do they let you out to play as often as they should?” And he would wink conspiratorially, so that Elizabeth could know that it was all right to say yes, she did spend a lot of time playing, and that she loved the latest doll or toy he had sent her.
“But I do learn my letters, sir, and my catechism,” she would tell him.
“Well and good, well and good,” he would say, pulling her onto his wide lap and sitting her on strong muscular thighs, with her cheek against the brilliant rough surface of his doublet, which was encrusted with gems and goldsmiths’ work. She would breathe in the wholesome smell of him, a smell of herbs, musky perfume, and the great outdoors, and nestle against him, enjoying the sensation of his bristly red beard tickling the top of her forehead.
“I will tell you something, Bessy,” he said once. “When I was a young king, I did not wish to be at my prayers or attending to state affairs; I wanted to enjoy life. So can you guess what I did? I would sneak out of the palace by a back stair and go hunting, and my councillors would never know I had gone.”
Reading Group Guide
1. Alison Weir talks about balancing the duties of novelist and historian. What kind of obligation do you think a historical novelist has to the facts of history? Should a writer let facts stand in the way of telling a good story? Are there parts of The Lady Elizabeth where you felt that Weir erred on one side or the other?
2. How does Elizabeth’s girlhood determine the woman she grows up to be? What are some of the events that shape the kind of queen she will become?
3. Although Weir relies on unproven assertions in her portrayal of Elizabeth’s relationship with Thomas Seymour, some of the most shocking episodes, such as the scene where Elizabeth’s clothes are cut away, are recorded events. How could the two women charged with supervising Elizabeth, Kat Astley and Katherine Parr, allow these sorts of “games” to go on, and even participate in them? Do you think that this sort of abuse was a relic of less-civilized times, or is it something that could still happen today?
4. How do Elizabeth’s views on religion change over the course of the novel, and what contributes to those changes? Compare her religious beliefs with those of her society; is she typical of her times?
5. In the Tudor era, religion and politics were virtually synonymous. In twenty-ﬁrst century America, religion has once again become bound up with politics, despite the constitutional separation of church and state. Does the Tudor experience, as detailed in The Lady Elizabeth, have any lessons for modern-day America?
6. In the accompanying interview, Weir writes about Edward VI: “Had he lived, I am convinced that he would have been as fanatical a Protestant as Mary Tudor was a Catholic, and that he would have been another autocratic king like his father.” Do you agree or disagree?
7. Do you share Weir’s sympathy for Henry VIII? Why or why not?
8. Torture plays a signiﬁcant part in The Lady Elizabeth. The threat of it is omnipresent, and it is used almost as a matter of course by a government intent on eliciting the answers it requires from its citizens. How effective is torture for Henry’s government as a political strategy, regardless of any moral considerations? Compare the attitude toward torture in Tudor times and the current debate about the use of torture in the War on Terrorism. Are there signiﬁcant differences?
9. In what ways can Elizabeth be seen as a kind of proto-feminist? Would she have viewed herself in the kinds of terms that contemporary feminists might?
10. Twice in the novel, Elizabeth encounters what she believes to be the ghost of her executed mother, Anne Boleyn. Does Weir want us to believe that she has really seen her mother’s spirit? What other explanations might there be?
11. How do Mary’s feelings toward Elizabeth change over the course of her life, especially once she becomes queen? Why do you think these changes occur?
12. Queen Mary is advised by many to imprison or even execute Elizabeth. Do you think that she is too lenient toward her younger sister? Does she allow her personal feelings to trump her duties as head of state? What would you have done in Mary’s position?
13. When Elizabeth learns of the plots against Mary, why doesn’t she alert her sister? Is she right to hold her tongue?
14. What lessons do you think Elizabeth learns from Henry and Mary about how to rule, and about how not to rule?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As a little girl, I thought that there could be no better life than the life of a princess. As I grew and started reading history rather than fairy tales, I realized that the life of a princess is not an easy life to lead. Especially if you happen to be the daughter of King Henry VIII. I became fascinated with the Tudor era, especially the reign and life of Queen Elizabeth I. I would read or watch whatever I could find. I am very happy to have found The Lady Elizabeth. The Lady Elizabeth deals with the Queen's life from birth through her ascension to the throne. It is the first work I have read which is Queen Elizabeth's life woven into a very well told novel. I loved this book from the moment I started reading it. The attention to every detail of the period, the personalities of the people involved with her life, the way she was treated, the way she had to shrewdly deal with interrogators to save her own life at a very young age are so vividly described you almost feel like you are living through it with her. If you enjoy historical novels, I would definitely suggest this one.
This was my first historical fiction book. It certainly made for livelier reading than another book I had read about Elizabeth. As long as the facts of her life haven't been tampered with I think this is a brilliant way to learn about history. It was fun reading.
Taking credible facts and spicing it up with probable "what if"s, Alison Weir enchants all with the tale of Queen Elizabeth I's turbulent childhood. Throughout the book we witness the development of an innocent and bright child into a captivating young lady who wields her wit and charm to save her life on many occasions. A great read for any lover of the Virgin Queen, the Tudor Dynasty, history in general and strong independent women.
Standing ovation for Alison Weir ladies and gentlemen! I adore this book! I am only 317 pages into it but my goodness, I felt as if I was there. I love Elizabeth I. She is my rolemodel, and to read how strong,smart and amazing she was made me fall in love with her all over again. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. I love,love love this book and I am not even finished with it! For those of you that are looking for an exciting read and want to learn more Elizabeth I and Henry VIII....please go buy this book. I promise you will enjoy every single page! Honestly, I literally felt as if I was there. There was a certain part in the book when Elizabeth kisses her father King Henry VIII on his forehead, and mind you this is when he is very ill in bed and she says to him 'it will be my constant prayer that God will soon restore you to good health sir'. And he looked up at her with tears in his eyes......I swear to you I felt like I was right there standing next to the young Elizabeth watching the whole thing!
I want a refund. This is trash.
Bad format, unreadable. No wonder it was on sale. DO NOT BUY.
I think Elizabeth I is one of the most fascinating persons in English history. Ms. Weir's fine historical novel brings alive Elizabeth's life prior to her ascent to the English throne upon the death of her half-sister. Read this book!!!
I have read several other books by this author, but this was a total waste of time. The author simply repeats known facts/legends and rumors about Elizabeth I, and the few original plot lines are totally unbelievable...worse, they're boring.
I enjoyed this book, but I thought it would be better. I read her book about Jane Grey which seemed to be more story were this one seemed like you were reading a history book
Historian Alison Weir makes some bold assumptions in the fictional account of the life of Elizabeth I. She indicates in her notes at the end of the book, that while their is no absolute verifiable evidence that Elizabeth became pregnant by Thomas Seymour, there were enough historically recorded rumors to all for the possibility. She takes these possibilities to write a different story of the young 'Virgin Queen'. The story takes us up only to the day she becomes Queen upon the death of her half-sister Mary. It begins with a precocious not quite 3 year old and takes up through all the emotional peaks and valleys--- the death of her mother, the ensuing musical chairs list of step-mothers, her imprisonment in the Tower, her house arrest, the on again/off again availability of tutors to help her keep her very keen mind engaged, her numerous illnesses, the plots in which she (or her servants) may or may not have been involved, the constant moving from one house to another, her early teenage crush on Tom Seymour, the death of her brother Edward, her feigned re-conversion to Catholocism to please her sister Mary--- that Elizabeth endured before assuming the throne at the age of 25.I highly recommend this for fans of the era, although I'm not sure if I'd say this is the best place to start if you've never read anything else about Elizabeth. There certainly are no lack of other volumes on the subject.
When I read Alison Weir's first novel, Innocent Traitor, I was underwhelmed but hoped she might improve in the future. I'm glad to say her sophomore effort was much better. I wouldn't call The Lady Elizabeth the best novel in the universe, or even the best Tudor novel in the universe, but unlike in Innocent Traitor, Ms. Weir does seem to realize she is writing a fictional story, and she doesn't spend quite so much time cramming all the characters' motives down the reader's throat. Elizabeth's bumpy early life is fascinating in any case; you could hardly accuse this book of being boring.Recommended for Tudor junkies only; I don't think the average citizen would find this worthwhile.
Since this is the first book I have ever read by Alison Weir, I cannot compare this with her non-fiction work.I have to say this novel is, in my opinion, a great success and I sincerely hope Alison Weir will write more works of fiction. The style is easy to follow, even though she does try to stay true to the times and often uses very old fashioned words. It adds to the atmosphere.I think this book is well written and she makes the historical figures come to life. I simply couldn't put this book down after about 50 pages.At the end of the book she explains which liberties she has taken and therefore you also know which parts of the book are based on historical facts as we know them. Very educational and enjoyable to read. If you are at all interested in Elizabeth I it's a must read.
I must admit that when I first looked at this book that I had to read for my book club, I was nonplussed. Ugh...it looked long, boring, and stuffy. Then...Weir's magic wrapped me and kept my interest for the next 472 pages. Well-paced, well-written, very satisfying, suspenseful...a masterful job of breathing life into an historical person. Now I can't wait to read/find more about Elizabeth, the Queen.
Listened to the NLS version. Long book. I like how it started with Elizabeth as a child, and showed her intelligence. I enjoyed how the author took a few liberties by having Elizabeth miscarry a baby at a young age. It was an interesting way to provide a motive for Elizabeth's feelings on marriage. Very good book on the Tudor period that also fleshes out some of the other characters: Henry, Edward, Mary, etc.
I really enjoyed this look into the early life of Queen Elizabeth I. The author does take some liberties with the relationship with Thomas Seymour but it made for an interesting story. After reading this I looked up some real facts and think that Ms. Weir did a good job of sticking to actual historic events and added just enough fiction to make for a good story.It does seem that Elizabeth was very lucky to have lived long enough to become queen, her sister Mary was known as the Bloody Queen Mary for good reason. It¿s a good thing the monarchies of the present day have evolved enough to not kill off everyone to keep the throne!This is my second Alison Weir book I first read Innocent Traitor and was glad I read that one first because this one gives a little more information from a different angle. I will definitely read more by her.
I really enjoyed this book. As with all of Alison Weir's books, it keeps to historical fact, with just enough license to make a great story. Ms. Weir always lets us know what parts she has taken liberty with, and I appreciate that, as well as the story that ensues.
The fact that she became Queen of England is just amazing. Her father, King Henry VIII, didn't always love her but he did allow her to be educated. Just like successful people today, she surrounded herself with loyal friends and she never stopped learning.
Very highly recommended! A most wonderful story of the Lady Elizabeth where you are drawn right into the midst of everything from the first page. A real page turner, wonderfully written, and extremely hard to put down. Exciting from first to last page.
The novel by Alison Weir provides a well written narrative that not only follows Elizabeth, but those around her and influencing her life. Alison Weir in her note to the reader admits to taking some liberties with the historical facts in this novel, but she states that she attempts most of the time to stay as true to the accounts of fact as she can. Once again as I am not a historian I can not vouch for this, but as a reader and lover of history I would like to think that this is true.As is typical of my nature when reading novels, I find myself fascinated by a supporting character. The Lady Mary, who eventually becomes Queen Mary is a well written character in this book who you find yourself at times sympathizing with and at other times despising. I think the emotional attachment that one finds themselves entangled in while reading this book is proof of Alison Weir¿s ability to write a believable and entrancing tale surrounding the early life of Lady Elizabeth.In The Lady Elizabeth, Weir does a fantastic job of providing a viewpoint both through the eye¿s of a precocious child and through the eyes of the adults around her. I found myself so entranced and emotionally attached to all of the characters in the book that I could not put the book aside until I had finished reading it completely.
I listened to this one on audio. Highly dramatized (by the author, I mean, not by the reader) and biased account of Elizabeth I's life from the death of her mother, Anne Boleyn, to her accession to the throne. Much of the story is, of course, familiar, but Weir elaborates on the relationships between Elizabeth and her halfsister Mary, and between her and her brother Edward. Here's where the bias comes in: it's obvious that Weir loves Elizabeth and detests Mary. Mary is depicted as a fond sister in the early years but suddenly becomes a jealous, paranoid witch when Elizabeth hits puberty. One of Mary's obsessions is convincing herself that Henry VIII was not Elizabeth's father; you don't need a DNA sample to prove THAT paternity, just take a look at their portraits (as several characters in the book keep pointing out to her). Elizabeth is, on the other hand, bright, beautiful, and precocious. It's a little hard to feel sorry for her when she has sex with her stepmother's husband, Thomas Seymour; she may be only 14 in the book, but Weir makes it clear that she has been forewarned many times. (The sex scene is particularly nauseating . . . maybe it WAS the reader in this case.) Weir spins a tale of improbably consequences (enough said about that). Overall, a little too romance-novelish for my taste, but it certainly beats most of Philippa Gregory's Tudor novels.
This book was a disappointment to me. the historical fiction market is flooded with books on Queen Elizabeth but I was curious to read a book by an author that until recently has focused on scholarly work over fiction. I thought that she might try a different angle or provide different insights, I was wrong. Having previously read works by Gregory I would have to recommend them over this work. The book lacks excitement and the dialog does not seem natural in many scenes. There are a few historical inaccuracies which I generally am willing to overlook since it is fiction. These do not add to the plot so seem more of careless mistakes rather than artistic expression. One example is having Anne's necklace being the wrong letter, there is no need for this alteration. Not a bad read but there are better stories on the market for those interested in this topic.
This is an engaging historical fiction novel. I was once again highly impressed by Alison Weir. She is a great writer and I couldn't put it down. This novel is focused on Queen Elizabeth I's childhood from birth till when she becomes queen. I loved this book but the reason why I did not give this 5 stars was because the author sometimes strayed way too far from the historical truth when it came to certain things such as Elizabeth's relationship with the Admiral. Ms. Weir sensationalized their relationship by having young Elizabeth become impregnated. This, according to all my research on Elizabeth and the Tudor time period, is completely and utterly false. She was never pregnant and most likely never had intercourse. She, at the most, engaged in "heavy petting". She was probably most likely molested by her stepfather but she was not raped. I think their relationships was sensational enough without needing the author to embellish it into romance novel like.But besides that, this is a great book and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the time period or historical fiction novels. Just bear in mind that this is a work of fiction.
I read Alison's first venture in to fiction Innocent Traitor when it first came out and it is one of my favorite books. Naturally I was ecstatic when I learned of her new book and rushed out to get it. Although I enjoyed this book I have to say it was a small let down after her previous work. While Innocent Traitor was written in a 1st person diary type account across various women's point of views Elizabeth is a done in an outside perspective. The story is still engaging and a must read for any fan of the Tudor empire.In contrast to most books I find on Elizabeth this starts at the death of her mother Anne Boleyn and ends at the death of her sister Mary as she becomes Queen. I found this aspect of the book to be quite original as most people tend to focus only on her reign. Elizabeth was one of the greatest leaders of England and I can see why peoples focus tends to be that time span, but the journey her life took before she made it to the throne is just as important as it shaped the ruler that she would become. I think Alison does a very good job at presenting captivating story while staying true to historical fact.
Really liked this book, and want to read more of her books. Ordered Elizabeth I now. Great historical Fiction about the younger yrs of Elizabeth from toddler up until the moment she is proclaimed Queen.