Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Review: Elizabeth I by Margaret George

Publish Date: April 5th 2011
Format: Hardcover 688pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"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 Review:

Following the life of England's greatest monarch, Margaret George has captured the essence of Queen Elizabeth I's life and reign within the pages of her latest novel, Elizabeth I.

Focusing on the last decade of Elizabeth's reign, we first meet the Virgin Queen as she prepares for battle with the approaching Spanish Armada. Ignoring the advice of her council, Elizabeth armors herself and speaks to her devout soldiers. It is at this instant that the reader is given a glimpse of what a truly remarkable leader she was, and this is only the beginning, throughout the novel Elizabeth's character shines with grace, strength and passionate determination.

While the novel is told predominantly from the viewpoint of Elizabeth, there are the sporadic chapters that are narrated by Lettice, the woman whom Elizabeth despised for coming between herself and Robert Dudley. Lettice's chapters took a type of "devil's advocate" approach to the readers opinion of Elizabeth, and although this helped mix up the plot line, I did find myself less intrigued by her story. Besides this aspect, I found the novel to be completely consuming and unable to set down. Do not let the high page count intimidate you. While 688pages is quite a hefty number to comprehend, it is definitely 688 pages of captivation! Rich in historical detail and courtly intrigue, Elizabeth I is a novel that will captivate readers for years to come, just as the beloved queen has done for centuries.

Copyright © 2011 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.
FTC: I received this book from the publisher. As always, these are my own honest opinions.