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The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle) Paperback – November 4, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: Random House Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345495365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345495365
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rosalyn Landor distinguishes the female characters nicely, handles the British and Welsh accents well and has a charming narrator's voice. She's less successful voicing the children, who sound like squeaky toys, and her Henry VIII makes one think of Papa Bear. While the book is often tediously detailed, and the children's psychological sophistication and vocabulary are beyond belief, Weir knows her landscape and how to tell a good yarn: she has written 10 histories of this period, and one bestselling novel, Innocent Traitor, about Lady Jane Grey. Landor's narration carries the fascinating plot twists and dynamic characters. Weir fans, historical novel and Elizabethan era buffs—and teenage girls—will enjoy this audio. A Ballantine hardcover (reviewed online). (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—This novel offers a glimpse at the motherless childhood and adolescence of the Virgin Queen. A straightforward chronological narrative, her story is told by an omniscient narrator and divided into three parts. "The King's Daughter" describes her early years, including her "demotion" from Princess to Lady at age three, after the beheading of her mother, Anne Boleyn. "The King's Sister" covers the time after Henry VIII's death, when Elizabeth's younger brother, King Edward, is on the throne. Imagining Elizabeth's adolescence, Weir writes convincingly of the struggles to focus on studies and stay true to her vow of celibacy when confronted with the overwhelming emotions of a teenage crush. The final section, "The Queen's Sister," relates the tale of political intrigue that finally led Elizabeth to succeed her sister Mary to the throne. Weir's writing is clear and engaging, and although readers know that the protagonist will eventually rule, the story remains suspenseful. The main characters are well drawn, and the historical figures are recognizable, although sometimes the multitude of minor figures becomes confusing. A genealogy at the novel's beginning, and vivid descriptions of the British Court, royal attire, and the Tower of London orient readers to the story's setting. Recurring political and religious repercussions of Henry VIII's break with the Catholic Church also permeate the novel. The Lady Elizabeth will appeal to teens interested in British history and orphaned-princess stories.—Sondra VanderPloeg, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth and several historical biographies, including Mistress of the Monarchy, Queen Isabella, Henry VIII, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Life of Elizabeth I, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII. She lives in Surrey, England with her husband and two children.

Customer Reviews

The story depicts Elizabeth, bastard daughter of Henry VIII, as a survivor.
Steven A. Peterson
I read a lot of historical books, but this one was such a page turner that I was staying up late at night and couldn't put it down!
I am always wary about historical fiction novels as they often are more fiction than history.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A great many novels have been written about Elizabeth I, and still the market is not yet satiated. I picked this novel up wondering what new insights or interpretations could Ms Weir possibly bring to the fictional portrayal of Elizabeth.

Ms Weir's novel opens with Elizabeth being told of her mother's death in 1536, by her half sister Mary, and takes us through Elizabeth's life until the time when the death of Mary in 1558 makes her Queen of England. Ms Weir addresses three distinct phases in Elizabeth's life: as the daughter of King Henry VIII; the sister of King Edward VI; and the sister of Queen Mary I.

What makes this novel interesting to me, and made the difference between 3 and 4 stars, is the portrayal of the tensions in Elizabeth's life as her status changes. The Elizabeth portrayed by Ms Weir is deeply impacted by events around her and is quick to learn about the relative value of women as daughters, wives and mothers. At the same time, she is aware of the value of learning, the politics of religion and becomes aware of her own role as a pawn in the political marriage stakes. The focus on the early part of her life, while it undoubtedly slows the novel down, is valuable because it illustrates so clearly the insecurity born of uncertainty.

Ms Weir's Lady Elizabeth is an intelligent and complex young woman. The novel is presented within the broad framework of known history and possible (if not always probable) speculation. I enjoyed this novel because I know the historical period well enough to be comfortable with fictional liberties.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Format: Hardcover
The imperious Elizabeth Tudor intuits her destiny long before the crown is delivered to her hands in 1558. In 1536, the tiny red-haired princess is but three years old, already acutely aware that she is her father's beloved daughter. As step-sister to Mary, daughter of Henry VIII's first wife, Katherine of Aragon, Elizabeth is much like her own intelligent, curious and driven mother, Anne Boleyn. Through separated by a number of years, the half-sisters retain an affectionate relationship; but with the birth of Edward, Henry's son by Jane Seymour, a gradual rift develops that is exacerbated by various court factions that view one sister as a threat to the other. Suffering a constant procession of step-mothers, Elizabeth relies of her father's affection, emotionally devastated by his death. Addressing these seminal years in Elizabeth's development, Weir delves deeply into her psychological makeup, both sisters destined to rule England, but divided by Mary's fanatical devotion to the Catholic cause and Elizabeth's refusal to stray from the tenets of the Reformed faith.

The author describes a child attuned to the dangers of court life, frequently chastened by her changing fortunes, sometimes nearly undone by an uncertain fate and no one to trust, save a few loyal souls. Surviving this crucible of uncertainty, Elizabeth develops a second sense for the particular dangers of her position as third heir to the throne after Edward. Joining in like cause when they are illegitimized after Edward's birth, the emotional ties between the sisters are as profound as they are disturbing, veering from deep affection to threat, depending on the circumstances in the court. Elizabeth's unique sense of self-preservation is honed during these years.
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It seems every year a new crop of novels about Elizabeth Tudor pop up. It's not surprising why-she's one of the most fascinating, powerful women in history. The first woman to rule a nation without a male consort, despite carrying on a lifetime (consummated or not) romance with a man considered highly inappropriate by her counselors and people. She played a highly skilled waiting game with the most powerful men in the world, stringing out marriage negotiations to ensure peace between the nations when she never intended to marry. I could go on and on and on...

But every novelist seems to have a different view of Elizabeth, the real, person Elizabeth that you can't learn about from reading her writings or researching her history. Sometimes Elizabeth is seen as a dark, brooding, sexual, regal, commanding and yet still unsure creature, frightened when it came to trusting any man. Others portray her as strong and unwilling to be dominated be anyone and if more naïve and willing to trust when she was young, she changed as she aged. And some (unfortunately) have her being sometimes strong, bet most often naïve and needing to be lead by men.

But the truth is, this is one of the only areas an author can be original in writing a biographical novel. There is only one story of Elizabeth's life, only so many historical documents and accounts left behind and no one will ever no know the whole truth and nothing but the truth unless Elizabeth herself shows up and decides to be very candid. So that leaves us with novelists, who take room for speculation and dramatic addition in the rumors of the time, or in adding a fictional character or event that may have influenced Elizabeth's life or character in some way, but in the end, the bare bones of the story are always the same.
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