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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but not as good as the others
I only discovered Philippa Gregory a month ago and I am already a big fan. Having read 'The Other Boleyan Girl' and 'The Queen's Fool' and thoroughly enjoyed them I was quite excited to read 'The Virgin's Lover' and I am pleased to say that although not as good as it's predessesors it is still a very worthwhile read.

Previous reviewers have summarised the story...
Published on 24 July 2008 by A. Lalor

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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing...happened.
I'm an avid reader of Philippa Gregory's books, and I really enjoyed 'The Other Boleyn Girl' and 'The Boleyn Inheritance' - this book, however, misses the high mark set by Gregory's other works.

The two problems I had with this book are pretty simple:

1) The characters. Amy Dudley, despite her difficult position, failed to get my sympathy - she was...
Published on 26 May 2007 by Alexandra Coke


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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing...happened., 26 May 2007
This review is from: The Virgin's Lover: 3 (Tudor series) (Paperback)
I'm an avid reader of Philippa Gregory's books, and I really enjoyed 'The Other Boleyn Girl' and 'The Boleyn Inheritance' - this book, however, misses the high mark set by Gregory's other works.

The two problems I had with this book are pretty simple:

1) The characters. Amy Dudley, despite her difficult position, failed to get my sympathy - she was interesting, but she was also deeply annoying, since all she seemed to do throughout the whole book was whine about one thing or another. I had even less empathy with Robert Dudley, who was completely unlikeable and not charismatic enough to hold my attention. Elizabeth was good at times and bad at others, but she too was aggravating through much of the book - she showed her spirit, but there were times when her inability to see Dudley's bad side was incredibly infuriating. The brilliant and cunning Elizabeth of 'The Queen's Fool' has mysteriously vanished without a trace.

2) The plot. Gregory's other books have had excellent plots with a fair bit of moving around, but the problem with 'The Virgin's Lover' is that nothing actually HAPPENS in it. Yes, Elizabeth is in love with Dudley. Yes, Amy is in love with Dudley as well. And yes, Dudley is lusting after Elizabeth. Good. Now, can we get back to the politics and court backbiting, please?

If you see this book somewhere for 50p, then go ahead and buy it - you might enjoy it more than me, as the other reviews here attest. But I wouldn't advise you to waste your money on paying the full price for it - go and read 'The Boleyn Inheritance', instead.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Queen's Master, 23 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: The Virgin's Lover (Paperback)
The book is set over the beginning of Elizabeth's reign covering the potential love affair with Robert Dudley, cumulating in the mysterious death of his wife Amy and the end of Robert's dreams of becoming Elizabeth's king and husband. I liked the previous novel The Queen's Fool and so I was looking forward to getting this book, and I was incredibly disappointed in it. It's main flaw was the portrayal of the three main characters, none of them were sympathetic or engaging.

I disliked the sheer overwhelming dependence of Elizabeth on Robert and her almost immediate fear of how alone the crown had made her despite the fact she had spent the previous book hard heartedly scheming for the throne at the expense of her sister. This portrayal of Elizabeth was terrible, I could have forgiven the novel a lot had she not been a week neurotic bag of nerves with every important decision taken by the men in her life. I got that the author was trying to show the reader a inexperienced side to Elizabeth in the first few years of her reign but I felt that it didn't work to portray her as completely at a loss on the throne with seemingly no sense of what she was doing, hiding behind her men and unable to to take a single decision for herself. Her famed drive, intelligence and skill for political manoeuvring did not make it into this novel and it is all the worse for it.

I really liked Robert Dudley in The Queen's Fool but in The Virgin's Lover where he takes centre stage he is unbearably arrogant and unsympathetic to the extreme. The grand love affair of the story curdled for me because Elizabeth seemed want him out of fear whilst she appeals to Robert's vanity, neither of them seemed to understand real love, the affair seemed a seething mess of pride and fear. Even the ending I was expecting, of the grand sacrifice of a man for the good her country never came about, the final halt of Robert Dudley's ambition came down to the plan of William Ceil rather then any relinquishment from Elizabeth. I did like William Ceil and his practicality throughout the novel which was the saving grace of the novel for me, I found him to be the most interesting character as he was truly dedicated to the reign of Elizabeth and willing to act to keep her characterisation from empty headedly granting Robert a divorce as the Head of the Church and then marrying him to the lost of her crown. However even that frustrated me because he shouldn't have had to, as the real life Elizabeth would never have put herself in such a vulnerable position, and so her character just rang hollow and false for me in the book.

I had also hoped that we would gain more insight into Amy Dudley after the brief glimpse of her in The Queen's Fool, I wanted to know why she acted as she did rather then she was just unbalance and angry but in the book she seemed to have no comprehension of the age she was living in. Certainly the real Amy Dudley would not have suggested to her husband train horses for their living rather then raise their status by attending the Queen. The original political union of Robert and Amy is given a romantic background that has long since soured, but gives Amy a reason to pray for Elizabeth's death as she feels Elizabeth will steal Robert. It is blindingly obvious to the reader that Robert has left Amy long before Elizabeth came to the throne and makes little sense. Even Amy seems to realise that they have long been estranged, but never pauses to consider her own actions and faults as having any role in the failing of her marriage.

There were a few positives to the novel, as always I liked the several brief appearances of the grown up Catherine Caery along with her daughter Lettice Knollys in the book. I also enjoyed the very fleeting glimpses into the home life of William Ceil and his very sensible wife alongside his considerable spy network - they were both high points of the book.

I also felt that the quality of the description had dipped considerably compared to her other books - lots of things were 'pretty' and there was little sense of the realities of the age in the novel. Another issue for me was the repetitiveness of the novel, for instance Elizabeth tears her cuticles or giggles in almost every scene that she is in. The plot does not really move forward with the characters - the whole book trundles by and Elizabeth is afraid and falling into bed with Dudley, Amy is hating and loving her husband and Robert is arrogant and seemingly unaware that he would never been seen as a suitable consort to Elizabeth with very little change. One major issues is that the politics and huge events of the period are briefly brushed over with no great depth, which considering the subject I would have found very interesting if Ms Gregory had tried to work these through a lot more thoroughly

For me, Ms Gregory's novels can be so hit or miss, I don't find her novels to be constantly good, which is a problem. If you are a lover of Elizabeth I, I would warn you to stay away from this novel as it doesn't show anywhere near the strong queen of the history books or even someone who could grow into Gloriana. I definitely would recommend going to the library for this one folks!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars SHALLOW, SILLY & WITH TOTALLY UNBELIEVABLE CHARACTERS, 5 July 2010
By 
Mrs. Judith Lugg "Judith Lugg" (Wolverhampton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Virgin's Lover: 3 (Tudor series) (Paperback)
The Virgin's Lover

Well, I usually like Philippa Gregory's books in the main but this one is awful. Anyone who knows anything about Elizabeth, Cecil and Robert Dudley is really, actually bound to be put off by the silly, inane posturing of all three of them in this book.

The story is so well known and it has been postulated previously in a far better book than this, that it was Cecil who instigated Amy Robsart's death in order to make sure once and for all that Robert Dudley could not marry Elizabeth. I think of all the possibilities this does seem the most likely and that it was done with Elizabeth's direct connivance would not be surprising.

The way in this book that Elizabeth changes from a stalwart young queen to a silly,vapid,timid idiot and back again is just too stupid for words.

I did persevere to the end however but it was a very hard slog particularly when the inevitable is known.

I most definitely do not recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the bother, 17 Oct. 2010
By 
S. Coleman (Cork Irl) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Virgin's Lover: 3 (Tudor series) (Paperback)
Having read all the other Tudor novels by Phillipa Gregory, I was excited to read this book. I had read the poor reviews here, but i still wanted to give it a chance. I wish i had listened to the other reviewers and saved myself the money and time spent reading it.

The character of Queen Elizabeth was very annoying. I know historically, Elizabeth was sometimes seen as being indecisive, but the way she is portrayed in this novel is irritating, whiney, incapable and childish. Amy Dudley wasnt much better, even though the sympathies of the reader should have been with her.

The story is dull and uneventful. It did not grab me and it was an effort to keep turning the pages. It also didnt have any of the glamour and atmosphere of court that her other Tudor novels had. I am a big phillipa gregory fan, but wish i'd given this one a miss.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but not as good as the others, 24 July 2008
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This review is from: The Virgin's Lover: 3 (Tudor series) (Paperback)
I only discovered Philippa Gregory a month ago and I am already a big fan. Having read 'The Other Boleyan Girl' and 'The Queen's Fool' and thoroughly enjoyed them I was quite excited to read 'The Virgin's Lover' and I am pleased to say that although not as good as it's predessesors it is still a very worthwhile read.

Previous reviewers have summarised the story so I won't repeat what's already been said but let me just state that this book is excellently written and definitely deserves to be on the bestseller list.

Perhaps other reviews have been a bit mixed about this book. I think this is because this book is bound to suffer from comparisions to it's predessors. Arguably it isn't as addictive but it is still good although at times it is a bit slow-paced especially Cecil's parts, which seemed like more of a history lesson than a historical novel. It is at best brilliant, at worst mediocre. I don't think this has anything to do with the author's ability to write but more that she chose a relatively short time period (two years in fact)so there's an absence of material to write about. However on a seriously critical note the ending is somewhat abrupt and unexpected leaving the reader feeling agitated and wondering why the final part of the story is rushed by so hastily. It is mainly for this reason that I give this novel 4* instead of 5.

The only reason I can give for the mixed reviews is that perhaps people don't like the way Gregory changed her style with this novel. In her previous books she writes in the first person a technique that I myself felt worked incredibly well helping to draw us straight into the action and really making us empathise with the character. However in this book the author writes from the point of view of four characters: Elizabeth, Robert, Amy and Cecil. This approach works well in that it does show us the bigger picture and gives us a more objective view of events but on the other hand it suffers in that it lacks the personal style we have come to associate with Gregory's books. That was the only slightly debatable problem with this novel and is more of a personal preference than a serious fault. Perhaps four characters was a bit too adventurous. Three would have been sufficient.

What I liked about this book in particular is that the characters appear very human and are therefore easier to relate to. What also is very interesting is that it is very difficult to discern from reading what side Gregory was on. The characters are in many ways not very likable; whether this was Gregory's intention or not remains ambiguous. Despite Gregory's attempts to portray Amy as a pious, strong woman desperately clinging to her faith and her straying husband during a time of great political and religious upheaval I still couldn't help but find her a weak, whining and aboveall irritating character. I always sighed with agitation when I came to reading Amy's parts. Undoubtedly she is critical to the story but I felt there wasn't enough story to keep one interested especially when you compare her with the glamour of court. I liked the portrayal of Elizabeth. Too many history books depict Elizabeth as this fierce woman. It was refreshing to see a more human and vulnerable side to her although I found her inability to perform her role as Queen without the presence of Robert rather irritating as the story progressed. As for Robert: well what can I say? Of all the characters Robert is the best progressed from The Queen's Fool. In fact he was probably my favourite character in the book. He had great presence (some very good one-liners might I add and the romance scenes are excellently executed) and even towards the end when his true intentions are revealed one cannot help but feel sorry for him. I think that's what made this book truly great: characters that irritate and annoy you but yet you wanted them to happy.

Overall I would highly recommend this novel though it is advised to read 'The Other Boleyan Girl' and 'The Queen's Fool' beforehand as it does put the story into perspective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of one man's ambition and two women's love, 15 May 2007
This review is from: The Virgin's Lover: 3 (Tudor series) (Paperback)
This is another novel in the same vein as The other Boleyn girl and the queen's fool. It is set in the early years of Elizabeth I's reign and centres around Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and his relationship with the two women in his life the Queen, Elizabeth and his wife Lady Amy Dudley.

The Queen in young and has inherited an unstable kingdom from her sister mary. A lot is expected of the new Queen and protestant exiles return to England eager to recieve their rewards for their loyalty. In addition Elizabeth has to contend with Catholic opposition to her reign from all corners of society, even within her own court. Her council continually insist that she must secure her position by marriage to a foriegn prince. Elizabeth must decide whether to listen to head or her heart which tells her that she loves Robert Dudley.

Robert Dudley is ambitious and eager for power. He knows that he has the heart of the Queen and he knows he can use this love to his advantage. He harbours desires of kingship and would even go so far as to make Elizabeth his wife. The only problem is he is already married.

Lady Amy Dudley knows that Elizabeth's accession will mean that her husband Robert will be called once more into her service. Amy loves her husband completely but she completely fails to understand the workings of the court and the extent of her husband's ambition. This causes a tragic twist and a scandle that puts a halt to her huband's rise forever.

This is a fantastic novel. I enjoyed the portrayl of Elizabeth as a vulnerable young woman rather than the Gloriana of her later years. You don't need to have read Gregory's earlier books to enjoy this one but f you have you will notice the reappearence of Catherine Carey, Mary Boleyn's daughter as the Queen's Lady in Waiting and also an appearence by Hannah the Fool from 'The Queen's Fool' staying in Amy Dudley's house.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INTRIGUING ROMANTIC HISTORICAL FICTION..., 25 Feb. 2005
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
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This is romantic historical fiction at its finest, replete with an abundance of period detail. The focus of the book is the romantic triangle involving the newly crowned tempestuous Queen, Elizabeth I, her lover and Master of Horse, Sir Robert Dudley, and his long suffering wife, Amy, whose dreams of a simple life with her husband are shattered with Elizabeth's rise to the throne upon the death of her half-sister, Queen Mary.
There is also a cat and mouse game involving Elizabeth, her Secretary of State, the canny and shrewd William Cecil, and Robert Dudley, which develops as it becomes clear that Dudley has his heart on becoming King and ruling alongside Elizabeth as an equal, something that can only be accomplished through marriage to Elizabeth.
Unfortunately for Sir Robert Dudley, his wife, Amy, a secret Catholic, has no intention of divorcing him. Moreover, Elizabeth has no intention of letting Dudley rule as King rather than just being King consort, were they to someday wed. Yet, she is in a quandary, as she finds herself unable to resist Dudley's charms and can refuse him nothing. Elizabeth turns to William Cecil for help in saving her from herself. William Cecil knows all too well that marriage to a Dudley would be disastrous for England, as Dudley, being the Queen's favorite, is one of the most unpopular men at court with the other courtiers. Moreover, the Dudley family, though a powerful and ancient lineage, has a treasonous history.
What Cecil devises is diabolical but plausible. This twist in the tale is certainly an ingenious way of explaining a mysterious death, a death that has never been satisfactorily explained by historians. It is a death that certainly served to cast a pall upon Dudley's ambitions and ensured that he and Elizabeth would never wed. It also ensured that the canny William Cecil would be the most powerful person in England, excepting Elizabeth.
This is a wonderful tale of the Tudor Court and the beginning of the Elizabethan era. There are those readers, however, who may find it difficult to reconcile the histrionic and besotted, love-struck Elizabeth of this work of fiction with the more familiar image of Elizabeth as the self-reliant and strong willed Queen Regnant. Still, those who enjoyed the author's book, "The Other Boleyn Girl", will surely enjoy this one. Set against a backdrop of political intrigues, it is a well-written, well-researched work of romantic historical fiction that will keep the reader turning the pages.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ROMANTIC HISTORICAL FICTION AT ITS FINEST..., 8 Jan. 2005
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Virgin's Lover (Hardcover)
This is romantic historical fiction at its finest, replete with an abundance of period detail. The focus of the book is the romantic triangle involving the newly crowned tempestuous Queen, Elizabeth I, her lover and Master of Horse, Sir Robert Dudley, and his long suffering wife, Amy, whose dreams of a simple life with her husband are shattered with Elizabeth's rise to the throne upon the death of her half-sister, Queen Mary.
There is also a cat and mouse game involving Elizabeth, her Secretary of State, the canny and shrewd William Cecil, and Robert Dudley, which develops as it becomes clear that Dudley has his heart on becoming King and ruling alongside Elizabeth as an equal, something that can only be accomplished through marriage to Elizabeth.
Unfortunately for Sir Robert Dudley, his wife, Amy, a secret Catholic, has no intention of divorcing him. Moreover, Elizabeth has no intention of letting Dudley rule as King rather than just being King consort, were they to someday wed. Yet, she is in a quandary, as she finds herself unable to resist Dudley's charms and can refuse him nothing. Elizabeth turns to William Cecil for help in saving her from herself. William Cecil knows all too well that marriage to a Dudley would be disastrous for England, as Dudley, being the Queen's favorite, is one of the most unpopular men at court with the other courtiers. Moreover, the Dudley family, though a powerful and ancient lineage, has a treasonous history.
What Cecil devises is diabolical but plausible. This twist in the tale is certainly an ingenious way of explaining a mysterious death, a death that has never been satisfactorily explained by historians. It is a death that certainly served to cast a pall upon Dudley's ambitions and ensured that he and Elizabeth would never wed. It also ensured that the canny William Cecil would be the most powerful person in England, excepting Elizabeth.
This is a wonderful tale of the Tudor Court and the beginning of the Elizabethan era. Those who enjoyed the author's book, "The Other Boleyn Girl", will surely enjoy this one. Set against a backdrop of political intrigues, it is a well-written, well-researched work of romantic historical fiction that will keep the reader turning the pages.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a trashy pulp romance novel, 16 Oct. 2010
By 
Iset (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Virgin's Lover (Hardcover)
If the story summary seems shorter than my other reviews of Philippa Gregory's books, it's because it was. The plot was wafer thin and strung out over 482 pages in the hardback version of the book. The storyline could be summarised in a single sentence. Robert Dudley makes a bid for power through his lover Elizabeth and neglects his wife. Practically nothing happens for 450 pages, which are filled out by endless, ultimately pointless scenes which contributed nothing to the outcome of the plot, of either Amy Robsart moping around or Dudley wooing Elizabeth. Even events that were, I'm assuming, supposed to inject some sense of excitement and risk into the story, fell flat. There was no sense of urgency at all to the French invasion of Scotland or the monetary crisis, and as for Cecil constantly begging Elizabeth to put Dudley aside amidst dire warnings of losing her throne, because Elizabeth ignores him and nothing happens to back up his warnings (there is talk of threats to Elizabeth and Dudley, but nothing ever materialises), this too lacked the crucial element of danger to make me care about the characters. All of this builds up to climax of the book, Amy Robsart's murder and its aftermath, which is resolved in the last 32 pages of the novel. As a result of this very short resolution and its placement at the very end of the book, the climax felt rushed through and hastily tacked on to the end of a plot which felt like it wasn't really going anywhere.

You might argue that the slow and boring plot with its odd climax is not Gregory's fault, because she was constrained by having to stick to the events that actually happened, but this is misleading for two reasons. Firstly, Philippa Gregory has a track record in her books of disregarding historical accuracy, which she does so again in "The Virgin's Lover", so whilst personally I prefer historical fiction to be as accurate as possible, there seems to be nothing constraining Philippa Gregory from altering events to make them as exciting as possible. Secondly, even with a predetermined set of certain events that have to occur in the plot, a good writer ought to be able to produce high quality work regardless. Going back to the flat resolution of the novel, another reason it deflated like a soufflé was because it seemed inexplicable that Elizabeth would suddenly give in now to Cecil's pleas to get rid of Dudley after constantly refusing to do so throughout the novel. This sudden reversal didn't make sense within the (admittedly warped) internal logic of the book or the personalities that Gregory had established for the characters (which bore no resemblance to their real life counterparts). On top of this, the writing is once again riddled with redundancies that Gregory beats the reader over the head with - it is constantly repeated how Cecil hardly ever signs his name to documents, and how Elizabeth tears at the cuticles on her nails when she is nervous - and she can't seem to "show" instead of "tell".

Amy Robsart is our intended heroine, although much of the focus revolves around Robert Dudley and his activities at court, one gets the distinct impression that Amy is who we're supposed to feel sympathy for. But I didn't feel sympathy for her. In fact I found her infuriating. Not only was she another very passive character (Gregory really seems to favour passive heroines in her novels), but she was whiny, clingy, needy, stupid, and extremely high maintenance. I could see why Robert wanted a divorce in the book. She's jealous without reason of the women around Robert, even well before he begins the physical relationship with Elizabeth. She ridiculously suggests that he take up the plough, and later when he asks her to find an estate for them she selects a tumbledown farmhouse - neither of which Robert, being of the highest nobility, would ever countenance. For that matter, Amy being of gentry class herself, the real life Amy Robsart would probably have scoffed if you asked her to work in the fields - just another example of Gregory demonstrating a lack of understanding of social standing and class in Tudor times. This Amy shows a complete idiocy and ignorance about the demands on her husband to make an appropriate living as a courtier, for example begging him not to go to war and renege on his sworn promise to King Philip of Spain after he merely has a bad dream the night before setting off. I know this is a nitpick, but ever notice how, in real life, people rarely have bad dreams right before something bad happens to them? But in books it happens a lot because the author thinks it's clever and subtle foreshadowing. It isn't. It's like telling your readers with a big neon sign that something bad is about to happen to this character. Whenever Robert was with Amy she constantly nags him, and in one scene, where he has news for her, she manages to turn the conversation to herself. She also needed constant reassurance from Robert. In one particular scene, Robert attempts to leave early when visiting his wife becomes too much for him, and hopes to politely and succinctly slip away, but Amy wakes up the entire household including their hosts, tumbling them all out of bed and embarrassingly putting everyone out so that her husband can have an official farewell. In the same scene, she pelts him with baseless, vitriolic accusations that he is riding off to some lover, despite having been given no cause to suspect this whatsoever. Personally, I wanted to shake her. There is further evidence that Amy has been misrepresented here - in the novel, she can barely read, but in actuality we have some of the letters she wrote still surviving today, and she seems to have been at least competent in her reading and writing.

Dudley and Elizabeth meanwhile are unrecognisable. Whilst the real Dudley was undoubtedly ambitious, and probably opportunistic, the man of this novel is arrogant, foolhardy, prideful beyond belief, scheming and outright power hungry. He does desire Elizabeth, but foremost in his mind is power, and the chance to become king. With the real Dudley, the reverse seems to have been true - he truly cared about Elizabeth, and whilst he probably would have taken the power marrying her would have meant if the opportunity arose, he doesn't seem to have bullied, pushed or manipulated her into such a course of action. As for Elizabeth, Philippa Gregory follows up her character assassination of Anne Boleyn in "The Other Boleyn Girl" by now turning her attentions to her daughter. I was appalled by this Elizabeth; giggling every other paragraph, biddable, docile, completely indecisive without a man in her life to tell her everything she has to do, vacillating and unbelievably foolish. No wonder the Dudley of this fairy story thinks he's got a good shot at dominating her and taking the power of the throne for himself. There is no sign of the precociously intelligent, cautious political player who knew how to use the attractions of her self and her kingdom to keep a whole brace of international suitors interested for decades. Gregory mistakes Elizabeth's carefully controlled flirtations for actual wantonness and flightiness, and her cautious political manoeuvring for woefully uninformed and hysterically indecisive. I say "mistakes", but it's clear that this portrayal is deliberate.

Speaking of mistakes, where was Elizabeth's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham? Instead he is amalgamated into William Cecil and "Cecil's agents" are constantly spoken of. Was it too big an ask to have had a cast of more than four people? Lettice Knollys, Mary Sidney, Lizzie Oddingsell and others do feature in the story but as thinly sketched cardboard characters at best. Anachronisms have slipped in such as the use of wine glasses and the practice of side saddle. Perhaps the most astounding disregard of historical accuracy comes with the Dudley-Elizabeth relationship. Whilst the real life individuals certainly appear to have cared for each other and had a romance, there is no proof whatsoever that the relationship was consummated, or that it ever went so far as Elizabeth becoming betrothed to Dudley and fully intending to marry him. The scene which has Elizabeth disguising herself as a serving girl and sneaking out to meet Dudley via an all too convenient deus ex machina secret doorway is patently ridiculous. Not only was Elizabeth hardly ever left alone, but she never would have deigned to wear serving clothes, and where on earth would she have obtained such clothes from anyway without anyone seeing her, and made her way to Dudley without being recognised by the hundreds of courtiers living at court that saw her every day?

Between the nonexistent plot and the cringe-inducing characterisations, the novel had no interest whatsoever for me. Forget historical fiction, this schlock bears no resemblance to the facts bar the characters' names, and reads more like a trashy Harlequin romance novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Work of Fiction, 5 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Virgin's Lover (Hardcover)
Another of Gregory's historical novels surrounding the Tudor court, this time focusing on Elizabeth's and her 'lover' Robert Dudley. Today, in a cynical age, many doubt that Elizabeth had died a 'Virgin queen', particularly due to the relationship she had with her childhood sweetheart Dudley. Was this friendship as innocent as she would have had people believe? Gregory suggests not.

Of course, this is a novel of fiction, and not to be taken literally, although the novel bases itself around events that did happen and characters that exist. Elizabeth, a young woman whose mother had been disgraced and executed, who had been declared a bastard, been imprisoned in the tower by her sister, became queen against the odds. Today we know her as one of the best (if not the best) monarchs that Britain has ever had. However, early on in her reign she quite possibly was overwhelmed by the power placed in her hands, as well as overcoming the obvious obstacle- she was a woman. In patriarchal 16th Century society, especially after her sisters disastrous reign, many would have doubted her competence in ruling Britain. And a scandal threatened to undo her early on in her reign as queen.

Robert Dudley was a married man, and if the rumours are to be believed (which Gregory's novel believes they are), this was an irritation to him, as it was an obstacle in his way towards marrying the queen Elizabeth. His wife Amy Dudley died, and many historians see this death as convenient for Dudley, and fishy to say the least. Did Dudley order her death? Did Elizabeth? Did Amy kill herself? Or was it truly an accident? We will never know, although Gregory portrays her own theory.

Like 'The Queen's fool', Dudley is portrayed as a complete cad, and Elizabeth as rather pathetic in part. It us hard to believe from reading this that this woman went on to become the woman and monarch that she did. However, this is fiction, and there to be enjoyed as such.
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