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4.2 out of 5 stars59
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 24 April 2001
I normally hate historical or biographical books preferring to read novels - but I started this when there was nothing else available to read and I was very quickly gripped - it's brilliantly written and the pace is fast - and what a story ! I was very dissapointed when it ended and I am eagerly awaiting the installment from David Starkey which will hopefully pick up where this one left off. If you hate history then do yourself a favour and read this book - you'll never look back .........
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on 4 July 2001
Starkey is able to produce a drammatic account of the youth (for this is what the novel focuses on, rather than the 'gloriana' form of Elizabeth). It is a page-turner, compelling the reader with wit, historical accuracy and some odd (anachronistic at times) observations.
He has made the historical biography available to the masses, while this means he does not have the same depth as a biographer such as Stan Houston, it does its job and provides a suitable background for anyone doing a history course - from GCSE to university - I wouldn't take this (often) spurious account as gospel , but it is a good start.
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on 21 April 2001
This is the first time I have read anything by Mr. Starkey and I was very impressed. It was refreshing to find a biographer who concentrates solely on the early years of Elizabeth I's reign. The text was extremely readable and Mr. Starkey's attention to detail made the scenes and characters come alive. While some liberties amy have been taken with material, and suppositions drawn from anecdotes and unsupported fact, he was quick to acknowledge this and these sections simply made it enjoyable. A superb book!
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VINE VOICEon 5 June 2001
I really enjoyed this book, and read it in two days. The story of Elizabeth's early years (which is all that is covered here) makes for compulsive storytelling.
Though occasionally the author's desire to give events a more contemporary gloss to the modern audience leads him to use some jarringly anachronistic turns of phrase, nevertheless this was a wonderful effort and his insights into the role of ceremonial in king(or queen)ship were particularly enlightening.
I'd recommend this to anybody.
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on 28 November 2001
AFTER HEARING GOOD THINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK FROM FRIENDS I DECIDED TO BUY IT ON AUDIO TAPE, AS I AM BLIND QUITE OFTEN THESE BOOKS ARENT AS GOOD ON TAPE AS IN PRINT BUT THIS ONE SUPPASSED ALL EXCEPTATIONS IT WAS WELL WRITTEN AND MADE INTRESTING BECAUSE THE READER SPOKE AS IF SHE WAS ACTUALLY INTRESTED IN THE SUBJECT AND NOT IN A MONOTONE AS SO OFTEN HAPPENS IN THESE BOOKS.
ITS ONE I WOULD RECCOMEND TO OTHER PEOPLE AS IT HAS SUCH AN ITNRESTING FACTUAL CONTENT PUT OVER IN A WAY THAT BRINGS HISTORY TO LIFE.
ITS NOT TOO LONG THAT YOU LOSE INTREST AND TURN IT OFF BUT NOT TOO SHORT THAT YOU FEEL MOST OF ELIZABETHS LIFE WAS GLOSSED OVER
DEFINTALTY A MUST FOR ALL HISTORY LOVERS AND ANYONE INTRESTED IN PEOPLES LIFES.
IN SHORT A GREAT PRESENT FOR ANYONE.
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I really loved this book - I'm a big reader anyway and I studied medieval history at A level so this book suited me well, despite being a later period than my original studies. Depending on what you're looking for, I can understand some of the criticisms from other reviewers, but I was not interested in an in-depth biography cum political analysis of Elizabeth's reign - I wanted a book that combined historical fact with some subjective fleshing out by the writer to give a feel of the atmosphere of that time. David Starkey makes it clear when he gives a subjective analysis of events rather than sticking to dry historical fact and for me that gives the book a readability that is really welcome. I loved the illustrations as well and would have appreciated more, though the ones chosen beautifully characterised the ideas laid out in the text, particularly the portrait of Mary, Elizabeth's elder sister, with her clenched fists and steely, determined gaze. For me, the book ended rather abruptly and I wouyld have liked it to continue further into her reign, but that is probably a reflection of my overall enjoyment of the book!!! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history with a human face.
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on 1 December 2010
I must admit to having a few qualms about this book when I first bought it, as I am not fond of David Starkey's presenting style on television and feared that I may not enjoy his writing style either. I couldn't have been more wrong.

David Starkey describes the formative events & early life of Elizabeth superbly, against a complicated religious and political backdrop, which provides great context and motivation for the further developments which occur in a climate in which Elizabeth literally fights for her life from girlhood.

All of the important characters are covered in some depth, bringing light and shade to a very dramatic history.

I have a particular interest in Elizabeth I and found this book very readable, illuminating and interesting, yet not taxing as some historical biographies can be. I will read it again and again.

It is worth pointing out that this is not a complete life of Elizabeth and the book culminates shortly after her coronation. Her reign itself is covered by Starkey in a seperate volume, which has attracted some criticism, but considering her longevity and the length of her reign, I found it good that it was divided into these two natural sections and it didn't feel 'unfinished' for me. However, if you want a comprehensive biography, then I would recommend you purchase a different book. Overall, I enjoyed this book greatly and believe that others who are interested in this period of history would find it a good read too.
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on 28 February 2013
Comprehensively written with well sourced detail. Many historians have been fooled by re-using and repeating compromised source material and Starkey goes to great lengths to make sure his sources are accurate. Some reviews criticise the "racy" nature of Starkey's approach for example the use of questions (to which we obviously know the answer) at the end of chapters. This didn't jar with me at all - it made it an exciting read. Elizabeth a feminist before her time, a tyrant, a visionary: probably all of these.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 June 2012
This is an easily read work of history, delivered in a flowing style. Well over two thirds of the book focuses on Elizabeth's life before her coronation, and as such there is much here about the latter days of Henry VIII's reign, and Elizabeth's relations with her half sister Mary , before and after the latter's accession to the throne, including the extremely difficult (and at different times dangerous) circumstances in which both Elizabeth and Mary found themselves.

However, there is very little about Elizabeth as Queen and this is not a biography which will give the reader insight into the great events of the Elizabethan age. What analysis there is tends to concentrate on Elizabeth's early life, and/or play down some her more controversial actions and policies. In general Starkey rather lives up to his own declaration that his description of Elizabeth is a biography of ' the woman I have fallen half in love with' .

Enjoyable enough- but further reading will be required to build a more comprehensive, and perhaps balanced, picture of Elizabeth's full life and reign
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on 26 October 2008
Starkey brings to life Elizabeth's turbulent childhood and adolescence, which he identifies as her 'Apprenticeship'. He concludes that the events of this period of her life shaped the Queen she became. This book is fascinating and covers the aspects of Elizabeth's life not often given extensive consideration and his arguments for the psychological impact of these events on her young mind are very convincing. A definate read for any Elizabethan enthusiast.
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