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I, Elizabeth: A Novel Paperback – March 25, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (March 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609809105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609809105
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Popular historian ( The Women's History of the World ) and novelist ( Return to Eden ) Miles brings deep research to this iconoclastic but only partially successful fictional life of England's "virgin queen," Elizabeth I. Miles traces, through the queen's own voice, Elizabeth's turbulent years as a princess in Henry VIII's court, her uneasy status during the brief reigns of her brother Edward and sister Mary and her decades on the throne. The author leaves no event unreported, describing in detail the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth's struggles with Mary, Queen of Scots, and the rise and fall of Essex. In a genre that often uses passionate love scenes to temper the drier affairs of history, a novel about the world's second most famous female virgin presents a challenge. There are love scenes aplenty, however, since Miles depicts the young Elizabeth as being as sexually obsessed as she is frustrated, her interest in men overshadowing affairs of state, religion and the succession to the throne. Miles is at her best in describing everyday Elizabethan life--religion, food, dress, illness. But her Elizabeth lacks the charisma to carry this lengthy chronicle, which is weakened by the device of having the queen, in italicized passages, comment from a pallid, distant hindsight on her past actions. As an entertaining look at Reformation England, this novel succeeds, but it fails at the more immediate task of creating memorable fictional characters from the leavings of history. Literary Guild and Double day Book Club selections; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Historian Miles, who has written books on Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and women's history, here gives a portrait of Elizabeth I that is rich in historical detail. More importantly, her Elizabeth has an authentic voice. Raised by turns as princess, bastard, and potential traitor, Elizabeth does anything she must do to keep her head from the block except renounce her faith (which makes it odd that we get no sense of her as a spiritual person). Having achieved power, she will do whatever it takes to retain it, including denying her powerful sexuality and executing traitors, even her beloved Earl of Essex. Forthright, salty, sensual, regal, and occasionally foolish, this is as real as a character created by words can be. For all historical fiction collections. [Doubleday and Literary Guild selections; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/94.]-Marylaine Block, St. Ambrose Univ. Lib., Davenport, Ia.
--Marylaine Block, St. Ambrose Univ. Lib., Davenport, Ia.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The prologue-completely unnecesary and a boring/slightly confusing beginning to the book.
DonkaDoo
The novel's other great value comes in the form of the historical facts I detailed earlier, giving the reader a fascinating look at the Tudors and life at the time.
JET
I, Elizabeth is a fantastic read of the life, loves, trials and tribulations of Queen Elizabeth I, "The Virgin Queen".
Amy M. Bruno

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By JET VINE VOICE on July 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you enjoy learning about the British monarchy, especially the Tudors, you will love this novel. Although fiction, the novel gives excellent insight into the rule of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and, of course, Elizabeth I. It also is rich on detail about life at the time, from the use of cosmetics to palace life to fashion to food.

The novel also gives a voice to one of England's greatest and most fascinating monarchs. It is impossible to know how accurate Miles' portrayal is in terms of Elizabeth's emotions, motivations, etc., but she strictly follows historical events, even including small factual events, such as Elizabeth's inscription on Dudley's (Earl of Leicester) last letter and several important quotes ("This is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes..."). The novel also includes handy family trees at the beginning and a list of "persons of my history" at the end for reference.

I agree with other reviewers who noted that much time was spent on Elizabeth's favorites, including Thomas Seymour, Robert Dudley, and the Earl of Essex, but it is true that these men were the queen's favorites, even if they may or may not have been lovers. The queen is portrayed as a silly, flirty thing at times, but mostly it appears as if she never loses sight of who she is. She is also portrayed, in turns, as vain, brilliant, jealous, clever, manipulative, etc., all attributes of a person, even a queen.

A few criticisms of mine include that the portrayal of Elizabeth's relationship with Seymour was only partly factual. That he invaded her bedroom regularly to tickle her and kiss her was true, but I have read that she was not besotted with him, but rather annoyed at his attentions, so much that she asked to be sent away.
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Kaleidocherry VINE VOICE on August 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Argh, as a reader of historical fiction I was really looking forward to this book and it is only about 30% actual history and the rest is Elizabeth's vapid moaning about (a) men she loves, (b) men who love her, (c) catty other women, (d) men she loves, and so on. By the end of the book (around age 60) she is showing herself as a ruler who is being led by her heart, not her mind, with consequences for England that were not the best.

Due to the excessive discussions of love and romance in this book I'd be more tempted to classify it as a romance novel than historical fiction.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sherrie Brownell on December 28, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fast paced, although lengthy, first person narrative showcasing the complexities and intrigues surrounding Elizabeth's rise to power. Her loves, her enemies, her triumphs and failures, they are all here. A compelling,"I can't put it down" read. Historical fiction is a super interesting way to supplement drier biographical approaches. An enormously fascinating and emotionally evocative drama. Her life was amazing. I loved this book!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Natalie on February 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am a Briton and a history buff, especially of my country. Elizabeth is one of the most fascinating women of history, British or otherwise, and I loved this personal insight into the extreme pressure of being a queen. From her speeches about Robin Dudley, to her worries about her face and body as she gets older to the threat of the Armada, this is a wonderful book, all around. Vive la reine!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michelle on April 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am so happy I found this book, which was by accident. About 6 years ago I read several biographies of ER (Including the very good one by Alison Weir) but found myself unable to remember a lot of the details a few years later - I remember Dudley but not his title (Leicester) and didn't he have a son or something that ER also doted on? (Robert Devereux, his stepson from his marriage to Lettice Knollys). Now after reading this wonderful novel I feel that I "know" the historical people and can never forget them or the timeline. I also feel as though I "know" ER - biographies based on 3rd person accounts will always be a bit of a caricature but this book let me imagine what she might have been like as a person.
There are many good novels featuring ER, including "The Queen's Fool" and the mysteries by Patricia Finney. This one was very, very hard to put down. I would rate is as best among them, and that is saying a lot. If you suffered under the 1998 Movie "Elizabeth" and it's silly fiction then this book is the antidote. It is readable, intelligent and highlights the inherently interesting life that ER lived. If you loved the movie and are looking for something more, you may or may not like this book. The author takes some liberties since it is a novel, but she remains true to the timeline and actual people who lived during that time. There is so much of interest in ER's life that there is little need to embellish the tale by making up new characters, moving the timeline around and adding absurdities such as poisoned dresses.
This novel will give the reader a firm feel of the history and biography of ER, and those looking for more facts should check out Alison Wier's bio, and those looking for more entertainment will enjoy the 6 part series starring Glenda Jackson, which is also true to facts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Someone Special on January 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth is probably, without argument, the greatest queen of all time. She had the most cunning mind of her time. What we know of her is that she was the best ruler of England (king or queen) that the country has seen. Even Queen Victoria doesn't seem to really compare. But in Miles's book Elizabeth is portrayed, not as a stern queen, but as a woman with emotions and desires. Her scandalous relationship with Robert Dudley is shown as a genuine affection between them. Even Elizabeth's attitude towards her troublesome cousin, Mary of Scots didn't seem to be very harsh. When asked to sign her death notice, Elizabeth hesitated for many months and even years before she went through with it. She had compassion towards family; she restored all the titles her Boleyn side of the family lost when her mother was executed. In general she seemed like an actually human being. But I rated this book four stars instead of five because, despite of the excellent reviews, the book was just not very interesting. I was surprised, since Miles has written excellent books about Guenevere. A much better book, written by Margaret George would have done Elizabeth justice.
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