Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir (audio book)

From the back of the audio case: Following the tremendous success of her first novel, Innocent Traitor, acclaimed historian and New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir turns her masterly storytelling skills to the early life of young Elizabeth Tudor, who would grow up to become England's most intriguing and powerful queen.

Even at age two, Elizabeth is keenly aware that people in the court of her father, King Henry VIII, have stopped referring to her as "Lady Princess" and now call her "the Lady Elizabeth." Before she is three, she learns of the tragic fate that has befallen her mother, the enigmatic and seductive Anne Boleyn, and that she herself has been declared illegitimate, an injustice that will haunt her all her life.

What comes next is a succession of stepmothers, bringing with them glimpses of love, fleeting security, tempestuous conflict, and tragedy. The death of her father puts the teenage Elizabeth in greater peril, leaving her at the mercy of ambitious and unscrupulous men. Like her mother two decades earlier, she is imprisoned in the Tower of London - and fears she will also meet her mother's grisly end. Power-driven politics, private scandal and public gossip, a disputed succession, and the grievous example of her sister, "Bloody" Queen Mary, all cement Elizabeth's resolve in matters of statecraft and love, and set the stage for her transformation into the iconic Virgin Queen.

Sweeping in scope, The Lady Elizabeth is a fascinating portrayal of a woman far ahead of her time - whose dangerous and dramatic path to the throne shapes her future greatness.

Read by: Rosalyn Landor

My thoughts: This is the first time I have listened to the audio form of an historical fiction book and I loved it. The Lady Elizabeth takes us through Elizabeth's life from the age of almost three until she inherits the throne upon her sister Mary's death. Elizabeth is thought to have been a very bright child -we know that she said to her governor at not yet three years old; 'how hath it, yesterday Lady Princess, and today but Lady Elizabeth?' And so to be shown things through this young girl's eyes really illuminates the emotion behind the fact - this child lost her mother (the infamous Anne Boleyn) at the hands of her father, yet rose to great things. I found the story riveting, even with the knowledge that some creative license was taken by weaving some long believed to be true, but never proven rumors into the story. Having it broken into three parts - the king's daughter, the king's sister, and the queen's sister - helped to keep the story in perspective as these were three phases in Elizabeth's life during this time period. While I have read a few books about Elizabeth already, I felt this one really helped me to understand how she came to be the woman she was when on the throne. I loved listening to Rosalyn Landor's voice as she read this story - her voice is well modulated and she is quite adept with her accents and characterizations. I hope to not only read/listen to more of Alison Weir's work but also hope to listen to more books read by Rosalyn Landor.

(I borrowed this audio book from the library.)
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3 comments

  1. This is a book that I have been wanting to read, but now I'm thinking that I might like to listen to it instead!

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  2. @BonnieBonnie - it was so good and I'm glad I listened to it - you definitely get a different perspective!

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  3. I have this one on audiobook so very glad to hear that it is good!

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