From Publishers Weekly
Queen Elizabeth famously refused to marry, causing a foreign-born king to ascend to the English throne in 1603. In her first book, Lisle nimbly examines Elizabeth's waning months and the introduction of James VI of Scotland as James I of England, demonstrating that the transition was anything but smooth or preordained. The aging Elizabeth remained unwilling to name her successor for fear that courtiers would abandon her to curry favor with the next ruler. Indeed, prominent statesmen and courtiers had, years earlier, had opened channels of communication with the presumptive successor. Lisle presents a memorable cast of characters striving to mold the transition. Scots feared losing their king and their independence, while Englishmen saw a flood of key appointments and titles go to foreign favorites. Various alternative candidates to the throne were favored by Catholics and Puritans, as well as the rulers of France, Spain and Venice according to their perceived stances on religion. James's greatest desire was to mediate religious reconciliation, but in the end, he made neither side happy and Englishmen began to remember fondly their good queen Bess. Lisle uses this brief period as a lens through which to view the key issues of both reigns, while commenting subtly on the nature of historical reputations. 24 pages of color illus. (Jan. 31)
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In her first book, de Lisle intently looks at the intrigue surrounding the last years of Elizabeth I's reign and handicaps how the players, anticipating her impending death, maneuvered for the main claimants to the throne: Arbella Stuart; Infanta Isabel of Spain; and the eventual winner, James VI of Scotland. Sarah Gristwood's Arbella: England's Lost Queen
(2005) covered the fall of her political stock and personal tragedy, and de Lisle treats the infanta as the distant instrument of papal and Spanish policy. Grandees in the know bet on James, and de Lisle describes the literary bouquets sent to James as well as less-visible machinations by the likes of Sir Robert Cecil. James' memorable progress into London in 1603, whose brilliance de Lisle decorates with James' accoutrements and personality, quickly changes after the lethal fallout of James' accession, allegations of Catholic perfidy, and the fall of Sir Walter Raleigh. De Lisle's fine debut fits the eternal popularity of all things Elizabeth. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved