Book Review: Elizabeth I

18 May

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, look-alike 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 has 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. Their rivalry, and its ensuing drama, soon involves everyone close to Elizabeth, from the famed courtiers who enriched the crown to the legendary poets and playwrights who paid homage to it with their works. Intimate portraits of the personalities who made the Elizabethan age great—Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake—fill these pages, giving us an unforgettable glimpse of a queen who ruled as much from the heart as from the head, and considered herself married to her people.

This magnificent, stay-up-all-night page-turner is George’s finest and one that is sure to delight readers of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.


Ten Surprises About Elizabeth Tudor

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

My Impressions:

Margaret George has chosen the last years of Elizabeth Tudor’s reign for her book Elizabeth I.  Beginning with the days leading up to the defeat of the Armada, this first person account from the viewpoints of Elizabeth and Lettice Knollys, shows a side of Elizabeth that I have not seen before.  Elizabeth is a seasoned ruler, comfortable in her role. She does not regret the choices she has made, yet wonders what her life could have been like if she had chosen a different path. Lettice, banished from court following her marriage to court favorite, Robert Dudley, is the look-alike cousin of Elizabeth.  A very different woman from Elizabeth, her character provides a wonderful contrast — the powerful, successful Virgin Queen vs. the promiscuous and many times married Lettice, a woman who unsuccessfully struggles to find her place and power at court.

Elizabeth I is richly detailed.  The many characters are fleshed out with their strengths and weaknesses, including Elizabeth’s.  I have to say, I did have a difficult time keeping the various Elizabeths, Catherines, Roberts, Careys, Knollys, etc apart.  I wish there had been a family tree or list of characters included.  The book is also very big — 650+ pages.  The length was a bit daunting, and I am afraid the narrative did not keep me turning the pages at fast as promised.

However, Elizabeth I is a great peek into the real life of this most famous of English queens.  The story of Lettice Knollys is an added treat.  Those interested in history, especially  of the Tudor era will enjoy the novel.


(I received Elizabeth I from Pump Up Your Book in return for an honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Elizabeth I Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, May 2

Book reviewed at Book Drunkard

Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book

Tuesday, May 3

Book reviewed at The Book Connection

Book reviewed at One Day At A Time

Wednesday, May 4

Book reviewed at Slice of Life

Thursday, May 5

Book reviewed at Life in Review

Friday, May 6

Book spotlighted at Books, Products and More!

Book reviewed at Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog

Monday, May 9

Book reviewed and guest blogging at Always With a Book

Tuesday, May 10

Book reviewed at Bippity, Boppity Book

Wednesday, May 11

Book reviewed at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, May 12

Book reviewed at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books

Friday, May 13

Guest blogging at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books

Book reviewed at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Monday, May 16

Book reviewed at Bags, Books and Bon Jovi

Tuesday, May 17

Book reviewed at Lynn’s Corner

Wednesday, May 18

Book reviewed at By the Book

Thursday, May 19

Book reviewed at Rundpinne

Friday, May 20

Book reviewed at History and Women

Interviewed at The Hot Author Report

Monday, May 23

Interviewed at Paperback Writer

Book reviewed at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, May 24

Guest blogging and giveaway at Acting Balanced

Wednesday, May 25

Book reviewed at Acting Balanced

Thursday, May 26

Guest blogging at Thoughts in Progress

Friday, May 27

Guest blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Book reviewed at Peeking Between the Pages

2 Responses to “Book Review: Elizabeth I”

  1. ccgevry May 18, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Thanks for the wonderful review of Margaret’s latest. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Now that you mention it, I family tree would have been a nice addition. I didn’t have an issue keeping everyone straight, but it would have been an extra that would have made the book even better.

    Thanks again.

  2. Margaret George May 18, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Thanks so much for reviewing ELIZABETH I on your site. I’m glad you liked the fact that I concentrated on the last years of her life. Most books that cover her entire life run out of steam by the time they get to that period (no wonder) and so they don’t spend much time on it. Yet it is very revealing of her character.

    Your suggestion that a family tree should be available is a good one, and I’ll suggest that for later editions.

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