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One of today's premier historical novelists, George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma - the Virgin Queen who had many suitors; the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel-bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England's greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. What was she really like?
In this novel, her flame-haired, lookalike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth's rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth's throne, Lettice had been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family - and each vying to convince the listener of her own private vision of the truth about Elizabeth's character. Their gripping drama is acted out at the height Elizabethan age's flowering. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake - all of them swirl through this novel as they swirled through the court and on the high seas.
This is a magnificent, stay-up-all-night listen that is George's finest and most compelling novel and one that is sure to please readers and listeners of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Bryan on 05-10-12
A different view of Elizabeth
With all the current books about Queen Elizabeth I, it seems there may be nothing new to say. But this book finds a new vision of Elizabeth. The is the old Elizabeth. The story starts with the Spanish Armada and goes to her death. Most stories about her center on her childhood and formative years of queenship. This one is of a mature, wiser Elizabeth. She has lived a long time, outlived most of her childhood friends, and has endured many trials. She sees the people around her in the vision of experience. And she sees herself a becoming more sidelined, as new, younger, men enter the stage of history.
Several of the reviewers have complained about the narrator, but I think her voice is quite right for this queen. She is mature, not a silly, vain girl. I felt like I was listening to the older Elizabeth as she reviewed her past and looked to the future.
In all, I found this book quite entertaining. It is an era that is most often hurried in stories about the times. First there is the armada, Elizabeth in armor, rousing the troops, old Elizabeth playing the fool with Essex, then she's dead. Here, she actively participated in the planning and work of the defense of England, it was Essex who was the fool, and she strode strongly and bravely into that good-night.
I enjoyed this book, and I think others who have read a lot extensively of the time will also enjoy. If this is your first Elizabeth story, you will not enjoy. The author expects the readers to already know the people and the events.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
By Bonnie on 03-18-12
Not boring for history buff
The story tells of Elizabeth the Ist reign in it's second half. Those who found it boring may have been looking for something more. I found many interesting things, that I hadn't known before. Margret George is a remarkable writer and does research her stories and timelines perfectly. I loved her"Autobiography of Henry the VIII" (Elizabeth's father). If you are interested in finding out more about this amazing ruler of England, this is a really wonderful book to read. Yes, this woman had to be so many things to keep her on the throne. She picked great advisers, and held them close. This book also shows that no one is perfect especially a monarch. I enjoy historical novels, they are one of my favorite forms of reading. I especially enjoy someone who does their research, follows a timeline, and can create a story that captivates. Those who wore "BORED" with this story, I can only assume that they were looking for a fairy tale. This book was as close to 100% on as could be, since there are no personal letters or diary written by Elizabeth herself. Everything about Queen Elizabeth I st, came from other peoples observances and documented histories of the time. I enjoyed this book very much. I have read many books by Margaret George, I didn't enjoy them all. but her books about English royalty were fantastic. I also enjoyed "Cleopatra". If you have read Margaret George before and enjoyed her books, then I'm sure you'll enjoy this as well. I believe those who criticized, saying this book was boring or slow may not have read any of Ms. George's previous novels. The author at the end explains much, and that very little was embellished except for conversations, and perhaps who was dancing with whom. (after all it is a novel).
14 of 14 people found this review helpful