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The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I Paperback – August 4, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jeane Eddy Westin is the author of eight books. She lives in Sacramento, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; Original edition (August 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451226674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451226679
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,441,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

When I was a child, my family seemed to be steeped in the love of historical lore.

I heard stories of my ancestors, the Dutch ship captain who eloped with a young French woman to settle in New York and Maryland. Another, who fought in the Revolutionary war at Valley Forge...but fortunately for him, in the summer.

My one grandfather told me stories of his Virginia grandfather, a Confederate cavalryman and showed me his sword with a once gilt tassel hanging from the hilt. My other grandfather recited a story of his grandfather who joined the Union army and lost a best friend, who fought for the south. For the rest of their lives, they passed in their little town on the opposite sides of the street and never spoke.

It's clear to me now that I was meant to be a reader and writer of historical novels from a very early age. My mother took me to the library when I was six to get my library card and to choose my first book. The one that most caught my attention was The Little Cave Boy and Girl, the first of a series about children through history. From that beginning, I continued to read historical non-fiction and fiction all my life, always fascinated by every aspect of earlier times. (Don't tell anyone, but I took books on my honeymoon and I can remember my husband's puzzlement when he saw me reading The History of Diseases. "It's interesting," I explained...difficult for a bridegroom to believe. He's since seen me read many similar books without surprise.)


I'm not alone. Most writers I know read curiously and voraciously as children, not realizing we're storing facts and ideas for future use. Sooner or later, some of us become enthralled with a particular historical period. Above all, I love British history and most particularly the Tudor period of the 1500s. Many women are drawn to Elizabethan novels. One of the strongest rulers in history, certainly the greatest queen, Elizabeth was also a woman we want to know and understand. We do know, she loved dancing, parties and handsome, well-dressed men and because of her personal charisma, she fascinated some of the greatest men of her era, even into, what was then, the ancient age of near seventy years.

She held Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester's love and loyalty until the day he died, carrying her own love for him in her heart until her own death. Of all her admirers, her Sweet Robin was most dear to her. Elizabeth was observed many times reading and re-reading his letters, mining the affection in them. Leicester waited for twenty years hoping to marry her before giving up and marrying Lettice Knollys, Elizabeth's hated cousin. She forgave him but banished Lettice, whom she called "that She-Wolf" from her court forever. Though he married, Robin's and Elizabeth's need for each other never ended and she kept him constantly beside her.

Elizabeth was a master at subterfuge, orchestrating many marriage proposals and contracts with the royalty of Europe as a way to keep England safe from attack. Yet, she never submitted to marriage in spite of the pleas of her Council, Parliament and people for an heir. Marriage to her meant sharing, or losing her power to a husband; marriage meant death either from his dissatisfaction (think of her father Henry VIII beheading two wives), or death in childbirth which killed many women. She would have none of it and used her brains and wiles to escape it. It was said of her that "Only her heart fluttered, not her head."

The public history of her reign is well-chronicled and many letters and state documents survive.

The private history is hidden, her personal letters to Sweet Robin destroyed in the English Civil War. We know little of what Elizabeth thought, what was in her heart and how she really felt about the major events and traumas of her life, or how they affected her.

That is where a novelist can help to fill in the gaps with what we know of a woman's responses to life. We can imagine her emotions through the eyes of others, her ladies-in-waiting, for example, as I do in The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I, coming in August 2009.

We can also come to know her through her long love and her heart's reaction to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Look for this story in my next novel of Elizabeth and her Sweet Robin, His Last Letter, Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester to be published in August 2010.

Elizabeth appears again in my next book The Spymaster's Daughter set in 1585-1588 the years when Sir Francis Walsingham and his network of Intelligencers slowly intercept incriminating coded messages from Mary, Queen of Scots. One of the queen's ladies is Walsingham's daughter, Lady Frances Sidney...who wants to be a spy despite her father's disapproval. Publication date for this book is August, 2012.

Read more about me at my website: jeanewestin.com

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Though much has been written about Elizabeth I, Westin finds yet another aspect of this extraordinary woman's lifetime: the agony of impossible passions in the Virgin Queen's court, Elizabeth's great love for Robert Dudley; Lady Katherine Grey's unrequited passion for Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford in 1562, and Mistress Mary Roger's affection for Elizabeth's godson, Sir John Harington, in 1599. In 1562, Elizabeth is not yet thirty, Kate Grey but twenty-three, both susceptible to the temptations of romance. While foreign court Elizabeth, she becomes more adept at avoiding marriage contracts, vowing "my people will be husband and children to me and it will be enough". As much to keep the throne to herself as to save Dudley from scandal, Elizabeth endures the particular pain of one who dare not give in to her heart's desire, Dudley never to rule at his beloved's side. Likewise, the queen insists that her ladies-in-waiting remain virginal as well, refusing to allow their marriages.

While Kate has put her youthful love for Edward Seymour aside, his return to court awakens a deep yearning in a solitary, lonely existence. Named heir to the throne, Kate does all in her power to alleviate Elizabeth's suspicions. Kate's sister, Lady Jane Grey, lost her head thanks to her parents' ambitions after the death of Henry VIII, Kate terrified of meeting the same fate. Now, like Elizabeth, Kate is tortured by her love for Seymour, who begs to wed her. Nothing good can come from a union the queen decries, harbinger of yet another threat to her hard-won throne. Westin describes tension-filled days at court, Kate desperate to allay the queen's suspicions, yet hopelessly in thrall to Ned. Though Dudley and Seymour risk all in pursuit of the women they love, for the women there is only danger.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Misfit VINE VOICE on September 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have to admit going into this one being confused about what the story was actually about, so many reviews go into such great plot detail that I found my head spinning - I'm keeping it short and sweet. This is actually two stories of two different women who served Elizabeth Tudor at two different periods in her life. The first, Katherine Grey falls in love with Edward Seymor and wishes to marry him but Elizabeth refuses to give permission for the two to wed - and their defiance leads to drastic circumstances. The second *daughter* is Mary Rogers (distantly related to Katherine) who joins Elizabeth's household in her later years and finds herself in love with the rakish Sir John Harrington, but Elizabeth has other plans.....

And that's pretty much it. While I enjoyed a look at a couple of lesser known ladies instead of the focus being on the monarch, I have to say that this book fell a tad bit flat for this reader. I didn't find much chemistry between either pair of lovers, Elizabeth was pretty un-intimidating in the first half of the book (thankfully that improved in the latter half), but worst of all was the portrayal of Robert Dudley. Instead of being the "Machiavellian master courtier" as he's been described he reminded me more of those irritating *barflys* I used to come across in my younger days - just a man who would flirt with anything in skirts. I never felt real connection with any of the characters, nor did I feel I was immersed into the period itself - I was always on the outside looking in. A good book, just not a great one.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ChristinaMarkson on August 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
If this novel had a Facebook page, the line for relationship status would most definitely read, "It's complicated." The book focuses on the women of Queen Elizabeth I's court who fall in love with forbidden men and arouse the queen's jealousy and ire. Lady Katherine Grey, the queen's most dedicated servant, falls in love with a handsome earl, while Mary Rogers falls in love with the queen's godson. Both women know that to pursue these relationships will mean alienating the "Virgin" queen, who must remain unwed if she wishes to retain her power. what they choose to do, and the resulting messes that unfold, make this a gripping read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mercedes J. TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, a quick note...while the people and many of the events of these two stories are true, Ms. Westin has altered some things, such as the dates when certain events occured, or extended a life by a few years or so. I mention this only because I've seen many nit-picky historical fiction reviewers out there who seem to get upset when things aren't told exactly as they happened...however that's what makes this FICTION.

Now, on to the story. This is a wonderful book about two different couples and the very different paths they take regarding their love, and the the very different outcomes that happen as a result. Katherine Grey (sister of the beheaded Lady Jane Grey, Queen of nine days) and Edward Seymour fall in love in the early days of Elizabeth's reign (early 1560's). Katherine is next in line for the throne (as stated in Henry VIII's will) but has NO desire for it. She lives only to serve her Queen and cousin, whom she truly loves. Elizabeth makes it very clear that Katherine and Ned can never be married. The joining of their royal blood (Edward is a close decedent of Queen Jane, Henry's 3rd wife), and the possibility of male heirs makes them a huge threat to Elizabeth's newly acquired throne, even though they want nothing to do with it. Kate and Ned,(as she calls him), defy the queen and end up paying a most extreme price for it, one Kate believes is worse then death. Their story is so sad, and while I understand why Elizabeth did what she did, I had to wonder how she could live with herself for being so cruel.

The second story is at the end of Elizabeth's reign (1599). Mary Rogers is a country girl who comes to work for the Queen as her Mistress of the Stool (it's about as glamorous as it sounds).
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