Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Queen For Her People

"One thing she had learned from this whole sad and dangerous business,
and that was that she must in future keep her own counsel and never betray her true feelings.
It was a harsh lesson for one who was just fifteen years old."
--Alison Weir, The Lady Elizabeth

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 480
Publication Date: August 29th, 2008
Source: Bought
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Goodreads Description

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.

The Depiction

So we all know I'm a huge Tudor fan and I'm stating the obvious even saying that again. Regardless, I have yet to read a book solely about Elizabeth I which probably IS surprising to you seeing as she's Anne Boleyn's daughter AND ruled England pretty damn well AND ruled solely as a Queen with no man at her side. With that said, I've always been a little hesitant to read this book even thought I've owned it forever because so many other books I've read have not placed Elizabeth in the most sympathetic light. I've read about her being fickle, cruel, ruled her vanity, crazy, petty, promiscuous. Not the best set of adjectives to describe her, eh? And let me tell you, I am so grateful I finally read this book because it put Elizabeth in the spotlight she so deserves. While history has painted her many things, Alison Weir does an amazing job of accurately fictionalizing events that led Elizabeth to be the Queen she would become. I know the gist of the political events leading up to her being crowned Queen but this book details her mindset, her beginnings, and the situations that shape her emotional desire to never wed amazingly. It all ties together so beautifully that you not only sympathize with her but you root for her, and this history has it's own version of happily ever after.

Elizabeth was a victim of circumstance for her entire life. She as a Princess, a Lady, a bastard, in line for the throne, disinherited, pushed aside, and fought tooth and nail for her right as Henry VIII's daughter. It was not an easy path at all and I loved delving into her life from her as a small child of three to a woman of 20s. The book does not go into her reign as Queen but how she gets there. I loved this. I loved reading about who she grew up and how she ended up begin Queen. Mary, her sister, continues to be a crazy fucking bitch who I hate with a historical passion but that's a conversation for another day.

This book was extremely well-written and while there are elements that historians will definitely eyebrow raise at, Alison Weir is a historian herself, she reminds us in her Author's Note that she took liberties in this story and played the 'What if?' game and I LOVED this. There is one aspect in particular that very well could have happened and she explores it and supports it with actual historical fact. Very scandalous. Very fun to read. While it reads like a historical fiction terms of pacing, I was invested quickly. I did not want to stop reading with exception of a few exempts as I state below.

The Story

To be honest, I can't even fault this book for this but I still feel like I have to say it because it was something that held me back a little bit. I felt a little bored towards the 60-70% mark, mostly because I knew what happened in history and just wanted to get on with it. I would have preferred a little more detail into her emotional aspect of the story rather than the political facts. It really is my own problem but still. I found myself a little bored. AND I would have really liked more inner thought details to Mary's actions towards her and how she felt about her crazy ass phantom pregnancies.

Reserved Seating
If you're looking for an engaging historical fiction about the life of Elizabeth I, this book is definitely for you.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the Tudors! They are such an interesting bunch, aren't they? Whether you love them or hate them, it's fascinating to think about how their lives are such a big part of history (and one that reads just like a real good story too). I hadn't heard of this book, and I'm not nearly as well-versed in the Tudors as you, but I do think it sounds like an interesting story! Sometimes, it's about the journey and not the destination, right? :)


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