Sunday, 4 December 2011
Book Review: The Lady Elizabeth - Alison Weir
Elizabeth's life alters in a heartbeat. A pawn in the savage game of Tudor politics, she is disinherited, declared a bastard, and left with only her quick wits to rely on for her very existence. But Elizabeth is determined to survive, to foil those who want to destroy her - or who are determined to use her as a puppet for their own lethal ambition - and to reclaim her birthright...
Review - I think I can honestly say with hand on heart that this is the best historical fiction that I have read yet. Particularly about the Tudor's. As a teenager I read most of Jean Plaidy's historical novels and more recently I read one of Philippa Gregory's but this book certainly grabbed me. Although it is listed under fiction, a lot of the book is based on historical facts, but as the author herself admits there is artistic license in there too which makes the novel what it is.
We meet Elizabeth just before she learns of her mother's death at the tender age of three. The first part is devoted to the time under Henry's reign. Where she meets various stepmothers, is taken under the wing of her older stepsister Mary who feels she should offer spiritual guidance to her sibling. Elizabeth's first stepmother Jane Seymour gives birth to a son who will become a future king. Elizabeth is very fond of her stepbrother and does not see him as often as she would like but eventually takes lessons with him and his tutors. On Henry's death Prince Edward is made King and we move into the second part of the book. Here we really see in full play the scheming and manipulation that went on behind the scenes. The King is still a child and is therefore advised by Lord Hertford who has set himself up as Head of the Council that makes the decisions. Once Mary is named Queen, Elizabeth's life takes a turn for the worse. Under Mary's catholic rule, the heretics (Protestants) face death and Elizabeth has to tread very delicately to save her own head. Queen Mary is manipulated by her advisers and her husband Philip of Spain and she turns against her sister almost against her own better judgement.
This book kept me on my toes and is such a page turner that I found it extremely difficult to put down. I would recommend this book to anyone studying the Tudors, or wants a good book to get their teeth into or those who enjoy historical fiction. 4*