REVIEW: Elizabeth I
I was sharing with another author just yesterday that the one thing twith which I've been most impressed since I first began this writing journey was how supportive most authors have been. Both traditionally published and indepenently published professionals have been so very generous with their time, their reviews, and words of wisdom. The author community is a place in which I love to be.
One lady in particular has become a dear, dear friend and a valuable mentor. She has followed my work and offered her valued advice and help to me more times than I'm able to count. Margaret George is a NYT Bestselling author and has appeared on NPR radio and often speaks at the Historical Novel Society conferences. Her bestselling novel, Memoirs of Cleopatra was aired as a mini-series by ABC, and we met when I merely sent her a thank-you note for being part of the inspiration which drove me to write my trilogy on Marc Antony!
This past December, I finally got to read her Elizabeth I--a novel of hers I'd not had a chance to pick up. Honestly, the Tudor period is much-written on, and I'm not as proficient historically on it, so I guess I'd passed it up for those reasons. Little did I know what a gem it is. Here is my review. Be sure to rush out and get this one, because it's a super-duper read!
Elizabeth I by Margaret George
Margaret George's Elizabeth I traces the fabled Queen's twilight years. But what a sunset! From the end of her relationship with Dudley through the troublesome Irish Rebellion, Spanish Armadas, and a stormy attempt to bring the Earl of Essex to heel, George had plenty of drama to work with and did so with obvious relish.
This was a memorable and well-developed novel. For me--a late middle-aged woman myself--the point of views stole the show. George didn't begin her book at Elizabeth's birth or in her childhood or even teen years. Instead, she began with a bang! The reader is presented with a late middle-aged Queen, dealing with a huge dual crisis: the end of the Reformation and Spain's constant attempts to invade England.
Elizabeth is indeed her father's daughter. Strong-willed, demanding, stern, and daunting to those who stand in her way or lose favor. However, she is also extremely self-aware and able to differentiate between politics and humanity. Unlike some monarchs, she has developed a wise, listening ear, and her reign has been rewarded by some top-notch ministers serving her privy chamber. And what a fantastic job George accomplishes in depicting the inner-workings of the Elizabethan court, frosting this cake with some Shakespeare, too!
As the plot develops, enter Lettice, mother to Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex--a spoiled, immature fool of a man that Elizabeth, none-the-less, fancies. But Lettice is a hot mess herself! She is riding through her third marriage, has frequent lovers, and especially enjoys younger men. But she's a mother, and as the story unfolds, hers is a character arc drawing me closer to her than Elizabeth.
Though this story is familiar, George presents a new and unique fabric woven between these two women that was rewarding and intriguing. This is a long book, but one to savor. If you want an entertaining history lesson dealing with the late Tudor period, colorful historical characters, and court intrigue, it's a fabulous read and I highly recommend it.
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