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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: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,567 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

I recommend this book it's a real page turner.
N. Abramson
Although this was fictional I feel the author stayed mainly true to the historical accounts of this time.
Julie Loomis
In short I look forward to reading more of Weir's books, both fictional and non-fictional!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith 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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Historians have long speculated on why, really, Queen Elizabeth I never married. Did she have an abnormality? Did she string along her suitors for diplomatic reasons? Was she unwilling to give up any of her freedom or power? Was she haunted by her mother's ill-fated marriage or terrified of childbirth?

Alison Weir explores this issue in a new novel covering Elizabeth's life up to her accession. Her mother Anne Boleyn's execution overshadowed her childhood, which was then punctuated by a sequence of stepmothers. Katherine Parr was the only one to last long enough to become like a mother to Elizabeth (the sixth queen narrowly avoided Henry VIII's deadly wrath). Katherine couldn't protect Elizabeth from every torment, though: her last husband Thomas Seymour managed to damage Elizabeth's reputation, and Katherine herself died in childbed. Weir finds the key to Elizabeth's resolve to remain unmarried in these tragedies' effect on her, tragedies inextricably linked with sex and marriage. The most dramatic event along these lines I found to be a bit far-fetched, and Weir has certainly used poetic license for dramatic effect; but other than this and a few other unknowable things, she's very attentive to historical accuracy.

Regarding the question of how Elizabeth came to be the Virgin Queen, this novel's explanation is a bit less illuminating (and more verbose) than nonfiction works like David Starkey's Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne or Alison Weir's own biography of Elizabeth.
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