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Elizabeth I: The Novel Paperback – March 27, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Personal and political conflicts among such larger-than-life historical figures as Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake, and Will Shakespeare intertwine in George's meticulously envisioned portrait of Elizabeth I during the last 25 years of her reign. Unlike most contemporary depictions of the Virgin Queen, this one is actually a virgin; she's married to England, whose interests she pursues with shrewdness, courage, and wisdom borne of surviving the deaths of her family. Readers see the queen through her own eyes and those of her cousin, Lettice Knollys, wife of Elizabethan heartthrob Robert Dudley, aka the earl of Leicester. Elizabeth's antithesis, thrice-married and much-bedded Lettice, is driven by passion and self-interest, easily evidenced by the story's beginnings: it's 1588, and Elizabeth meets the threat of the Spanish Armada head-on while Lettice calculates how her son might benefit. Like her heroine, George (The Autobiography of Henry VIII) possesses an eye for beauty and a knack for detail, creating a vibrant story that, for nearly 700 pages, enables readers to experience firsthand Elizabeth's decisions, triumphs, and losses. Rather than turn Elizabeth I into a romantic heroine, George painstakingly reveals a monarch who defined an era. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* Having already tackled Henry VIII (The Autobiography of Henry VIII, 1986) and Mary, Queen of Scots (Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles, 1992), George now turns to Elizabeth I. Narrating her own story, Elizabeth is in late middle age, still formidable, but having hot flashes and keeping notes as a memory aid. Robert Dudley, the love of her life, dies early on, and one by one she loses most of her other trusted councillors as well. Dudley�s ambitious and wayward stepson Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex, arrives at court and becomes her last great favorite. As she did in The Autobiography of Henry VIII, George adds an extra dimension by providing a second narrator; here it is Devereaux�s mother (and Dudley�s widow), Lettice Knollys. Banished from court because of an irregular marriage, Knollys conducts an adventurous sex life (one of her lovers is Will Shakespeare) and schemes to push Devereaux into power and restore the family fortunes. George�s mastery of period detail and her sure navigation through the rocky shoals of Elizabethan politics mean this lengthy novel never flags. --Mary Ellen Quinn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
The Tudor period is my favorite to read about. I'm not sure why; maybe it's because the first book I read was, in fact, Margaret George's, The Autobiography of Henry VIII, and from then on I was hooked. I was especially interested to read more about Elizabeth I as she was the daughter of Henry VIII and the infamous Anne Boleyn, who are two of my favorites from history. I was not disappointed in this novel as it taught me so much more about Elizabeth I and the type of woman and queen she was. I'll admit that with as long as the novel is, it is slow going at times, but there was never a moment that I was bored. I found it fascinating to read.
This novel takes place over the queen's later years and what I really enjoyed and am kind of surprised by is that it is narrated by both Elizabeth and her cousin Lettice. Normally I would not like that. If I'm reading a novel about Elizabeth then that's what I want to read but the way that the author wove the parts of Lettice and her son, the Earl of Essex, into the story was so well done that it all just fell perfectly together. Of course I developed a liking towards Lettice which didn't hurt either and really looked forward to the parts of the book narrated by her and would certainly like to learn more about her in the future.
The way that Margaret George has portrayed Elizabeth in this novel had me liking her. Yes she could be indecisive at times, especially about the Earl of Essex, but it showed her in a real light. She was a queen but she was also a woman who found herself aging and noticing the effects finally of it on her body. She was no longer the young, strong woman and yet she couldn't let anyone at court see her failing in any way. To do that was to give up your power because there was always someone ready in the wings to pounce. I found myself really admiring her. She was a woman in a man's world and she bore up well under it all. She lived to do her best for her people and for those closest to her, she would do anything.
The novel is very detailed in it's historical facts as all George's novels are. Some novels like this are boring but not Margaret George's. She manages to weave her fictional side in with the factual in such a way that you don't feel like you're in a history class, yet at the same time you come away knowing you've just learned a lot about an important time in history. I can't even imagine the amount of time it took to research this novel but it shows in every last page. You find yourself absolutely absorbed in the court happenings, the parties, the politics, the wars, and the very real lives of the people who existed alongside the queen.
Elizabeth I is yet another beautifully written novel by Margaret George that invites us into the life of one of England's favorite Monarch's. It's a must read for all those historical fiction fans who love a story well told, well researched, and those who want to learn more about the Tudors or just want to read a different perspective on Elizabeth's life.