Monday, April 14, 2008

The Virgin's Lover

This is a historical fiction novel about Queen Elizabeth I who died never having married. The story covers the first two years of her reign and the people she surrounded herself by. A couple of years ago, our bookgroup read "The Other Boleyn Girl" and I liked it so thought I'd give Phillipa Gregory another shot. She claims to do a lot of research on her subject matter and as I know very little about Queen Elizabeth I, or really any monarch, I suppose I'll have to take her word. She portrays the royal court as filled with ambitious, jealous people, quite narcissistic and desperate to get ahead.

Simply, Robert Dudley was a man who had grown up as a childhood friend of Elizabeth (who was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boelyn) but had been accused of treason after King Edward died and he tried to get Jane Grey (his widow) on the throne. I really don't know how succession works but apparently that was treasonous and off to the tower he went. When Queen Mary died (who was a staunch Roman Catholic and Elizabeth's half sister), Elizabeth becomes heir to the throne butshe is protestant. Rumors of wars from the French and potential suitors overwhelm Elizabeth and she turns to this slick Robert Dudley for comfort. Robert happens to be married but in his ambition, sees himself as King potential if he could just get himself out of his marriage. Drama, drama, drama....and things don't turn out to well for Robert Dudley or his wife.

I love historical fiction and this novel is very entertaining. However, the dialogue was so simplistic and thus unconvincing to me. But it puts you back into the middle ages with ease and she weaves historical fact into her story telling quite seamlessly. Most importantly, it was a nice diversion from my Devil in a White City that is killing me.

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