Thursday, April 02, 2015

Review: The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I by Alison Weir (audio/print)

Title: The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I
Author: Alison Weir    
Narrator: Julia Franklin  
Published: February 2015, Recorded Books / Ballantine Books  
Length: 16 hours 18 minutes / ARC e-copy 400 pages   
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley via publisher 

In this compelling novel of Tudor drama and suspense, acclaimed author Alison Weir brings to life one of England's most scandalous royal love affairs: the romance between the "Virgin Queen" Elizabeth I and her courtier Lord Robert Dudley.

Over twenty-five and newly crowned, Elizabeth vows to rule the country as both queen and king. But her counselors continually press her to form an advantageous marriage and produce an heir. Though none of the suitors have yet worked their way to her throne, the dashing - though married - Lord Robert lays claim to Elizabeth's heart. Their flagrant flirting, their unescorted outings, and the appointment of Lord Robert to Master of Horse inspire whispers through the court, and even rumors that Elizabeth has secretly given birth to Lord Robert's child.

Events take a dark turn when Robert's wife is found dead. Universal shock is followed by accusations of murder. Despite the scandal, Elizabeth and Robert manage to navigate the choppy political, economic, and religious waters around them. But the greatest obstacle to marriage between the Queen and her true love may come not from outside forces, but from within.

With intricate period detail and captivating prose, Alison Weir explores one of history's most provocative "Did they or didn't they?" debates. The Marriage Game maneuvers through the alliances, duplicities, initrigue, and emotions of a woman intent on sovereignty - over her country and herself.

My thoughts: It's no secret that I am a fan of anything and everything Tudor England, especially anything to do with Queen Elizabeth I, so of course, when I saw this on Netgalley, I just had to request it. Then, I decided I would do a combo - listen to it and read it - something I've done with a few books lately, and have really enjoyed. This was a great book to listen to, and then I would go back and reread sections that I felt needed clarification or I just wanted to review before going on.

The one benefit of having read so many books set during this time period already is that I already know the major players involved. That's a big relief as so many have the same names and it can get quite confusing. What I find interesting, though, with each book I continue to read about this time period and about these people is that each author brings to light what they feel is important to share. Everyone has their own biases about what happened or what didn't and it's neat to see this all played out in the different books.

That being said, this book was quite unlike any I've read before in that it really concentrated on the main premise of one of the most debated questions in history: Just how far did things go between Elizabeth and her friend, confidante and suitor, Robert Dudley? Did she ever really love him or did she just play him for her own purposes? Was she playing the marriage game with him and all the other many suitors that her council put before her? Was this a power play in her mind, a way to keep the ultimate control over these men, who were really trying to get her to marry for the sole purpose of producing an heir?

This book was well written, easy to follow and I liked the balance between fact and fiction. Allowing us to be inside both Elizabeth and Robert's heads provided quite an interesting look at how Alison Weir imagines things to be. The scandal, drama and intrigue of court life are always what appeal to me in these books and they come to life here. Alison Weir takes a much-asked question and provides quite the answer.

Audio Thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Julia Franklin narrate a book and I found her to be a great narrator, which is a good thing considering the length of this book! She did a great job with the voices and even the pacing seemed good to me. I will definitely be looking to see what else she has narrated. 



  1. Kristin, I'm glad you enjoyed this audiobook. Lovely review! I think I'd enjoy this as well.

  2. I have a stack of Allison Weir books that I've yet to get too so I'm glad to see that your found this readable and enjoyable. I'll have to look for this book in audio. Great review!


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