What I'm Reading
A blockbuster novel about the life of Elizabeth I.
I first read this huge work historical fiction many years ago at a time when family sagas were best-selling novels. Pleased it was re issued so I could check if my thoughts were the same.
It remains a colossal work. Elizabeth is developed as a character with the conflict between her half-siblings and all the political intrigue of the Tudor court and her father's problems and attitudes. It showed me aspects of Elizabeth I had never picked up during factual research. Fast paced, this is a great read about a privileged noble girl, from birth to death.
The sections where Elizabeth is queen seem to lose focus on her as being the complex character she was. It reads a lot like a romance: the relationship with Leicester is overpowering and dominant in all aspects. There are other men, other flirtations. She is tragic and some parts are very disappointing. These could have been edited out without losing anything from the story, which is a long one. From my adult perspective I would prefer to read about the way she deals with the social and religious issues she was presented with. Plus we could do without the annoying habit of always chewing her lip.
This still remains the best fictional book I have read about one of the longest-serving monarch in English history, Elizabeth I . Great for those who like girl-power with a regal romantic spin.
Paperback version available from Amazon (UK)
Originally published by Bodley Head 1 January 1985. Sourcebooks Landmark on 1 July 2010.