Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"The Lady Elizabeth" -- More Tales About Tudors

Since this month has been all about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards and the writing of books, I thought I'd share with you my latest book review on Amazon. I find that, as a writer, it is important to constantly read other's works. Writing the reviews keeps me in form for my own work.

I'll be back to talk about travelling in a couple of weeks.

This is a gem of a book for history buffs. The story takes us into the formative years of the young princess, Elizabeth—from the death of her mother, Anne Boleyn, to the day she is proclaimed Queen of England.

Having just finished reading “The Boleyn Inheritance” by Philippa Gregory, it was interesting to compare Alison Weir’s version of much of the same period of Tudor rule in England. Ms. Weir is a historian turned author, and her novel “The Lady Elizabeth” is an interesting account of the childhood and adolescent years of Henry’s youngest daughter. Where she does stray from the actual known facts of Elizabeth’s life, she explains her reasons very nicely in the Author’s notes. As she tells us, writing historical fiction is somewhat different than writing a history book.

The story opens with the three year old Elizabeth learning of the death of her mother, Anne Boleyn. She is totally distraught about losing her beautiful mother but idolizes her father, who hasn’t yet begun to show the signs of illness and aging that are soon to come. I found Ms. Weir’s take on Henry somewhat more sympathetic than the mad monster Gregory paints him. One can almost feel sorry for the aging king as he rails against his loss of health, looks and virility. The few passages showing him with his three children are heart warming and the sadness all three feel at the death of their father is palpable.

After Henry’s death, life becomes increasingly dangerous for Elizabeth as, time after time, she foils Queen Mary’s attempts to destroy her as successor to the throne. As “Bloody” Mary’s obsession with the Catholic Church and her hatred and suspicion of her half sister grows, the people she rules become more and more sure that the younger woman is the one the truly want on the throne. From time to time it seems that Elizabeth will never be able to survive the intrigues and alliances set up to trap her into treason.

Of course, as we know from history, she does and her reign turns out to be one of the most successful in all the annals of England monarchs. However, “The Lady Elizabeth” is a fascinating glimpse into, what was probably the most dangerous period in the life of Elizabeth I.

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