TITLE: Elizabeth I: A Novel
AUTHOR: Margaret George
INFO: Paperback, Fiction, 661 pages
PUBLISHED: Viking, 2011
SOURCE: Received from Publisher for Review and Book Tour
FROM GOODREADS: New York Times bestselling author Margaret George captures history's most enthralling queen-as she confronts rivals to her throne and to her heart.
One of today's premier historical novelists, Margaret George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma-the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel- bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England's greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. But what was she really like?
In this novel, her flame-haired, lookalike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth's rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth's throne, Lettice had been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country, and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family and each vying to convince the reader of her own private vision of the truth about Elizabeth's character. Their gripping drama is acted out at the height of the flowering of the Elizabethan age. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake-all of them swirl through these pages as they swirled through the court and on the high seas.
This is a magnificent, stay-up-all-night page-turner that is George's finest and most compelling novel and one that is sure to please readers of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.
MY TAKE: I've read other books by Margaret George and enjoyed them immensely, this was no exception and I think it has moved into position as my favorite work of hers! I have been on a major Tudor kick in the last few months and was holding on to this one for when I could immerse myself in the story. I wanted to savor it without having other books on the subject influence what I was reading. I'm glad I did wait as this was a unique perspective and an original telling of a familiar story. I started and finished it during a recent two day reading binge. It was a very satisfying and enjoyable experience.
Many readers are intimidated or put off by lengthy tomes such as this one with over 650 pages. I am of the opposite mind as I like to get completely lost in stories of other times and places, the longer the better. The fact that Margaret George does extensive and meticulous research shines through in her books. Historical facts blend seamlessly with the fictional vehicle she has created to carry them. By writing in a novel form, she manages to share this information with the reader without making it feel like a textbook. It's the best of reading for pleasure and reading to learn combined.
I thought it was brilliant to use the alternating POVs of Elizabeth and Lettice. It really showed the two sides of the Queen that still fascinates the world after all of these centuries. Presenting the historical facts from someone else's perspective as well as Elizabeth's made it a more enjoyable read. Lettice has been in Elizabeth's life from the beginning and has been at the center of some of these dark times for her. Her thoughts and feelings on the same incidents and memories provide an interesting balance to the story. Especially when you factor in the jealousies and intrigues that were inherent in their personal relationship as well as the court setting to begin with.
I also appreciated that Ms. George didn't begin her story at one of the same places most novelists do when covering this subject: the marriage of Henry to Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's childhood or when she is first crowned Queen. This tale begins when Elizabeth has already ruled for a few decades and is in her 50s. She's a mature woman who has suffered many losses and had to make too many personal sacrifices for her country.
Fans of Margaret George, readers/followers of anything Tudor and those who enjoy good historical fiction need to read this book. It is one of those epic stories that covers an important time in the history of our civilization and provides a large dose of entertainment while doing so. Because it is focused on the later years of Elizabeth's reign, it also gives a much more rounded picture of the Virgin Queen as a woman who made her mark on the world.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon and The Book Depository
Learn more about Margaret George by visiting her at Goodreads, her website, and also on Facebook.
~~~~~ Disclaimer: All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own. I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links. I may receive books in order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one. Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.