Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Time Before the Queen

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

Summary: Following the tremendous success of her first novel, Innocent Traitor, which recounted the riveting tale of the doomed Lady Jane Grey, acclaimed historian and New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir turns her masterly storytelling skills to the early life of young Elizabeth Tudor, who would grow up to become England’s most intriguing and powerful queen.

Even at age two, Elizabeth is keenly aware that people in the court of her father, King Henry VIII, have stopped referring to her as “Lady Princess” and now call her “the Lady Elizabeth.” Before she is three, she learns of the tragic fate that has befallen her mother, the enigmatic and seductive Anne Boleyn, and that she herself has been declared illegitimate, an injustice that will haunt her.

What comes next is a succession of stepmothers, bringing with them glimpses of love, fleeting security, tempestuous conflict, and tragedy. The death of her father puts the teenage Elizabeth in greater peril, leaving her at the mercy of ambitious and unscrupulous men. Like her mother two decades earlier she is imprisoned in the Tower of London–and fears she will also meet her mother’s grisly end. Power-driven politics, private scandal and public gossip, a disputed succession, and the grievous example of her sister, “Bloody” Queen Mary, all cement Elizabeth’s resolve in matters of statecraft and love, and set the stage for her transformation into the iconic Virgin Queen.

Alison Weir uses her deft talents as historian and novelist to exquisitely and suspensefully play out the conflicts between family, politics, religion, and conscience that came to define an age. Sweeping in scope, The Lady Elizabeth is a fascinating portrayal of a woman far ahead of her time–an orphaned girl haunted by the shadow of the axe, an independent spirit who must use her cunning and wits for her very survival, and a future queen whose dangerous and dramatic path to the throne shapes her future greatness.

Review: A tale of Queen Elizabeth before she was queen with unbelievable characters and using a rumor I don’t like.

I’ve read six books by Alison Weir. Half of those books I’ve given three stars and the other half I’ve given two stars. Weir seems hit or miss for me. This book was a miss. Two of the three books I didn’t enjoy so much were her fiction books. I seem to enjoy her nonfiction more. I’ll continue to read her work since I like what she writes about, especially the Tudors although I might be more hesitant about reading her fiction.

I do admire Queen Elizabeth I for standing by her principles and being able to rule a kingdom when people were doubting her and clamoring for her to marry. However, I am not the biggest fan of her personality. Elizabeth was portrayed ok in this book although I felt she was too smart even though she was precocious. Everyone else was terribly out of character, at least from what I know about them. It almost felt like Weir was trying to portray Elizabeth as a sainted person who was very sinned against. It wasn’t an evenhanded portrayal. I also didn’t like that the author went against her belief and included a big rumor in the book.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction about Queen Elizabeth.

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