- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 10, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345511913
- ISBN-13: 978-0345511911
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I Hardcover – February 10, 2015
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Praise for The Marriage Game
“Entrancing . . . [Alison] Weir manages to weave actual history and the imagined kind together seamlessly.”—Huntington News
“Weir’s credible characters and blend of the personal and political will sweep up readers of this engrossing behind-the-scenes psychological portrait of Elizabeth.”—Publishers Weekly
“Based on historical events, letters and conjecture, Weir paints a fascinating picture of Elizabeth’s years as queen. . . . There is enough drama here for a PBS series.”—RT Book Reviews
“Weir’s impeccable reputation as both a historian and a master storyteller guarantees a huge audience for another intriguing Tudor-themed tale.”—Booklist
Praise for Alison Weir
A Dangerous Inheritance
“A juicy mix of romance, drama and Tudor history . . . pure bliss for today’s royal watchers.”—Ladies’ Home Journal
“Highly compelling [with] plenty to keep readers enthralled.”—Historical Novel Review
“Should be savored . . . Weir wastes no time captivating her audience.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Stunning . . . As always, Weir renders the bona fide plot twists of her heroine’s life with all the mastery of a thriller author, marrying historical fact with licentious fiction.”—The Denver Post
The Lady Elizabeth
“Intrigue and maneuverings. Scandal. Schemers and innocents put to death. [This] history of Tudor England is an engrossing story. . . . Weir marries conjecture with what is known about the life of Elizabeth I from childhood to coronation, and it makes for ripping good reading.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“A compelling, even irresistible, read.”—Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels A Dangerous Inheritance, Captive Queen, The Lady Elizabeth, and Innocent Traitor and numerous historical biographies, including Elizabeth of York, Mary Boleyn, The Lady in the Tower, Mistress of the Monarchy, 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Taking as its main focus Elizabeth’s Privy Council’s and, indeed, the entire Parliament and country’s obsession with her need to get married and produce an heir, and the queen’s attempts to fob them off through procrastination, broken promises, assurances and games as it’s premise, the novel also highlights the steamy and stormy relationship between Elizabeth and her favourite courtier, Robert Dudley.
It’s clear that Weir knows her history. As her wonderful non-fiction books attest (The Life of Elizabeth I and The Princes in the Tower are my favourites), she uses her formidable understanding of Elizabethan politics and times to infuse the novel with veritas, even using direct speech from reports and letters of the times and known events to add grist to her marriage mill. The reader is drawn into Elizabeth’s world, its male-dominated court and the religious and global politics that threaten and sustain its power. A constant balancing act is required (by the author, reader and the characters) which means the queen and her council must be both vigilant and yet warm towards the various international diplomats that populate the court – offering salves to wounded pride, playing various proposals and dignitaries off against each other and trying to second guess intentions.
Mercurial and demanding, Elizabeth is the heart and soul of this story, as indeed she was of the times (they’re not recalled as the Elizabethan period for no reason). Yet, it’s hard to like this vain queen or the men who surround her. Self-interest is paramount and weasel words are currency.
We know from history that Elizabeth was a difficult and selfish woman who would readily strike those who displeased her, send people to the tower for marrying without permission (even those without royal blood) and who saw most other women as potential competition and so banned them from court. She struggled with ageing (in that, she was very like many modern women, which reveals struggling with growing older isn’t necessarily a contemporary preoccupation) and was concerned not be redundant. Encouraging flattery, she also doled it out and was a flirt par excellence, even as an older woman – these are all facts.
While the queen’s relationship with Dudley, who she later made the Earl of Leicester, is also well documented, in this novel, Weir delves into the emotional and physical bonds that both connect the pair and drive them apart. From the first days of Elizabeth’s rule to Dudley’s death, she fictively explores their tempestuous and imbalanced relationship.
Yet, for all the veracity of this book and the fine writing, the weaving of fact and fiction, the hardest thing for the reader is the undeniable reality that the lead character, good Queen Bess, is an outright bitch. She is not sympathetic or kind, but narcissistic, wilful, a bully, and manipulative. She uses people for her own ends, is masterful with words and wields them as weapons to wound and control and contrive outcomes she desires. Though this may have been politic and Elizabeth’s only means of asserting authority and influence, it works better in non-fiction than fiction where what’s being told is essentially both a love story and an anti-love story. Likewise, Dudley is a dud who obeys his monarch at the expense of dignity, self-respect and, in the end, his family. History is kinder to these pair than this book, that’s for certes!
So, while I enjoyed Weir’s version – and for me the second half of the book was better than the first - I prefer the way history books recall Elizabeth – as a potent political force, faults and all - than this particular piece of (romantic?) fiction.
You could "feel" how much this took out of her. There were times when I would think to myself "Are you kidding me? Again with this marriage game?"( Perfect title.) Then it hit me. If I was getting tired of all this, my God, how hard it must have been for her. If you are as fascinated with Elizabeth1st as I am, read this book.