Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Entertaining novel of the love life of Good Queen Bess
on 6 July 2014
"The Marriage Game" by Tudor historian Alison Weir is a clever and entertaining, if sometimes maddening, novel about the love life of Queen Elizabeth the first.
If you have read more than a few romances you will almost certainly have encountered some in which an infuriating heroine who cannot make up her mind leads the hero and often a host of other suitors a merry and highly frustrating dance. Both in real history and in this book, "Good Queen Bess" absolutely was that girl. Hence when I say that the book is sometimes maddening I mean that one identifies sufficiently with the characters to find Queen Elizabeth's behaviour maddening - as it was, although this book helps you get inside her thoughts enough to understand why she behaved the way she did.
When she came to the throne Queen Elizabeth already had good reason to be fearful and cautious about the dangers of love. She had been two years old when her father had her mother beheaded. A year after that the Queen for whom Henry VII disposed of her mother, Jane Seymour, died in childbed. When she was fourteen her last stepmother, Catherine Parr, also died in childbed. And shortly after that her stepfather Thomas Seymour who had married Henry VIII's widow Catherine Parr, was beheaded for High Treason on a number of grounds, one of which was that he behaved with improper familiarity towards Princess Elizabeth. This may have been part of a treasonous plot to marry her and gain the throne. Whether or not that was the case, the Regency council headed by Seymour's own brother were sufficiently convinced of it to have him executed.
Having seen so many of those who were close to her die in such circumstances, Elizabeth had every reason to know that love could be dangerous. So she was determined to let no man be her master and never lose control of her feelings. However, the possibliity of marrying her was one that she dangled in front of all the eligible batchelors and many of the widowers in her court, and almost every unmarried Prine in Europe. The prospect of her hand in marriage was deployed time and time again as a carrot for potential allies.
Had this been a work of pure fiction nobody could take seriously the elaborate game which Elizabeth played with all her suitors, domestic and on the international stage, as described in this book. However, much of "The marriage game" is novelised fact and very close to the truth, though it is forced to rely on speculation about what the true relationship had been between the teenage princess and Thomas Seymour, and about what really happened between Elizabeth and her favourite Robert Dudley, later Earl of Leicester.
A glittering and fascinating novel of a glittering and dangerous era.