Thursday, June 30, 2011

"The Lady Elizabeth"

"The Lady Elizabeth" by Alison Weir
Published in 2008
My rating: 5 out of 5

Most people know something about England's Queen Elizabeth I, whether it be that she was known as the virgin queen, that her mother was the infamous Anne Boleyn, or that she was a staunch Protestant. But Alison Weir's "The Lady Elizabeth" focuses on the Elizabeth that we don't always read about in novels, from her toddlerhood up to the moment she learns she is Queen of England.

I have also read Weir's novel "Innocent Traitor" and between the two books I can say I adore her writing style. Weir, a historian by trade who has written several nonfiction books on English royalty, is excellent at developing a plot that is gripping, suspenseful and intriguing even when we as readers know from history what the outcome will be.

I found the Author's Note section to be very interesting, in particular where Weir describes some of the rumors and theories that influenced the events in the book; some she seems to consider plausible and others she disregards as pure fiction, but she admits she enjoyed playing around with various facts and rumors to fill in the blanks left by history. About one critical event in the novel she writes, "I am not, as a historian, saying that it could have happened; but as a novelist, I enjoy the heady freedom to ask: What if it had?"
I enjoyed this book so much that I'm planning to read some of Weir's nonfiction works as well. If you like Philippa Gregory (author of "The Other Boleyn Girl" and many others), you will love Alison Weir. The subject matter and plots of the two authors' novels are similar and I enjoy both, but personally I think Weir is the better writer.

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