Monday, May 09, 2011

Virtual Book Tour and Review: Elizabeth I by Margaret George



First line: Felice Peretti, otherwise known as Pope Sixtus V, stood swaying before the stack of rolled Bulls.


Synopsis from publisher: 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 thoughts: I have always been intrigued by the Tudor family and after reading Philippa Gregory's Tudor series, I have become almost obsessed with the need to read as much as I can about this family, particularly about Elizabeth I. This is the first time I have read anything by Margaret George and I was captivated from the first page. It is quite clear that she meticulously researched the life of Elizabeth I and I felt myself drawn into the life of the court. 

Focusing on the last fifteen years of her reign, the book opens in 1588 with Elizabeth facing her greatest challenge, the Spanish Armada. What fascinated me the most with this book is the way it is told. The majority is told from Queen Elizabeth I's point of view and sporadically interspersed are chapters told by the queen's rival and cousin, Lettice Knollys. This is the same cousin who stole the queen's love (in name only as she was the virgin queen), Robert Dudley and was thus banned from court. It is her son, Robert Deveraux, the Earl of Essex, that provides the queen with a new favorite while also causing much heartache and trouble during her last years of reign.  

Having recently listened to Alison Weir's The Lady Elizabeth, which focuses on Elizabeth's life from the age of three until she becomes queen, I was excited to read about Elizabeth's later years on the throne. I love reading different perspectives of historical figures as each author tends to focus on different aspects that are important to them. Margaret George put a human face on the latter years of Queen Elizabeth's life - how she lived her life wed to England, her need to keep notes to jog her memory and the sadness she felt as she faced the loss of more and more of her long time friends and advisers. I will definitely be reading more of Margaret George's work and Elizabeth I will be added to my shelf of favorite historical novels.


About the author: Margaret George is the author of six epic biographical novels, all New York Times bestsellers, featuring larger than life characters like Henry VIII and Cleopatra.  Although painstakingly accurate historically, their real focus is the psychology of the characters.  We know what they did, we want to know why. Her latest release is Elizabeth I.

Margaret’s research has taken her from the islands of Scotland to the temples of Upper Egypt, with experiences that include snake-keeping and gladiatorial training.

She lives in Wisconsin and Washington DC.  Interests include reptile conservation efforts, Middle Eastern dance (aka bellydancing), and archeology.

You can visit Margaret George’s website at www.margaretgeorge.com.


I received a complimentary copy of Elizabeth I by Margaret George from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour. 

3 comments:

  1. Excellent review! I haven't read this one. Gregory's Tudor series is on my TBR list. I haven't been reading much historical fiction lately for some reason. I'm sure in a month or two I will come on a complete HF binge and read the whole series an then some!

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  2. Thanks for the lovely review of Margaret's latest. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hadn't read anything from her before this one either, and I was totally captivated by this book.

    I hope your readers get a chance to stop by her website to learn more about this talented author and her work.

    All my best,

    Cheryl

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  3. @ Bonnie: I love reading historical fiction and have been on a historical fiction buying binge...now I'm just hoping to read them soon.

    @Cheryl: I will definitely be reading more of Margaret George's work - especially her book on Mary Queen of Scots. Thanks for organizing the tour!

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