The Life of Elizabeth I

  • by Alison Weir
  • Narrated by Davina Porter
  • 23 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The War of the Roses, historian Alison Weir crafts fascinating portraits of England’s infamous House of Tudor line. Here Weir focuses on Elizabeth I, also known as the Virgin Queen, who ascended to the throne at age 25 and never married, yet ruled for 44 years and steered England into its Golden Age.


What the Critics Say

“A riveting portrait of the queen and how the private woman won her public role.” (Kirkus Reviews)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Did you know she NEVER MARRIED?

Read from October 06 to 31, 2013

Narrator: 4 stars
Book: 2.5 stars - DNF

I've always been fascinated by Queen Elizabeth I, and after reading Alison Weir's novelization (to use the term loosely) of Elizabeth's pre-reign life (The Lady Elizabeth), I wanted to experience her take on Elizabeth from the perspective of a historian rather than a novelist, since she seems to not only be a great researcher, but also not someone with an obvious bias for or against this queen.

Unfortunately, there was something I'd forgotten from the other works of Weir's that I've read: her tendency to get stuck on a "theme" and repeat it repetitively continuously redundantly throughout her books, bringing the same thing up over and over repetitiously. Did I mention she tends to repeat herself time and time again?

This is a 24-hour long audiobook (and Davina Porter does an excellent job bringing life to what could have been dull non-fiction in another's less-capable hands), and the first 18 or so hours of it focus on the fact that ELIZABETH WASN'T MARRIED and played around with the idea a couple of times but never actually got married. Did I mention that everyone wanted Elizabeth to get married, but she didn't really want to? Oh, and she spent all her time with Robert Dudley, not to mention the fact that she was an emotional basketcase and screamed and yelled at people when she didn't get her way or when they reminded her she wasn't married or told her she should get married or presented an idea of whom she could marry to her. Oh, and did I mention SHE WASN'T MARRIED? Because obviously, this was the absolute most vital, important part of her reign that Weir spent about 75% of the book focused on the fact that ELIZABETH WASN'T MARRIED.

By the time I finally gave up trying to force myself to finish this book and moved on to something else, I'd learned one very important thing:


Oh, and apparently she couldn't do anything without Robert Dudley, either. They fought and she sent him away, but then she had to have him back because she couldn't "do" without him for very long. But she wouldn't marry him.

And if there was anything international to do, it was only because ELIZABETH WASN'T MARRIED and she might be looking abroad for someone to marry.

So, all that to say that this probably wasn't the best bio of Queen Elizabeth I for me to read. Because, actually, I already knew that Elizabeth WASN'T MARRIED and NEVER MARRIED. (Except, possibly, David Tennant's version of Doctor Who---but that's another story.)
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- Kaye

Masterful Historical Narrative

Alison Weir is a master of historical narrative. This is a well written, comprehensive biography of Elizabeth I. The book begins with her Grandfather and quickly sets the stage through the reign of her father and siblings Edward and Mary. After the story of her childhood, the real story begins with the reign of her younger brother.

Elizabeth's story is familiar in broad strokes - Bloody Mary, Mary Queen of Scots, the Spanish Armada, Shakespeare and the English Renaissance. Never the less, the details read like a spy novel, a romance, a treatise on civil government, religion and culture. From Sir Francis Drake raiding Spanish ships to Lord Essex at war in Ireland, the book covers her life and 45 year reign in style.

I particularly like the way Weir quotes her sources in an authoritative manner without disrupting the flow of the narrative. In this way the book reads like historical fiction - which it is not. Weir is simply knowledgeable enough having done adequate research to re-create scenes dramatically with the words of her characters.

Ultimately, there is little revolutionary in her point of view on Elizabeth. As a scholar, I don't think her research brings her to any new or shocking revelations though she clarifies and adds details to many points. Elizabeth was with little doubt a pivotal figure in the history of Europe and defining leader in the development of what was to become Great Britain. I suspect Weir's "The Life of Elizabeth I" is well on it's way to becoming a modern classic on the subject of the life of Elizabeth I. Well worth a read if you have any interest at all. This book is long, but quite accessible.
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- R. Campbell "Ray Campbell"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-26-2012
  • Publisher: Recorded Books