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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth as she really was or as close as we will ever get!
Excellent, excellent book. A detailed examination of the Virgin Queen's life, health, friendships, frailties and fears. Far from always being the Gloriana depicted in famous portraits, here was woman who inherited her throne after many trials and tribulations which clearly left their mark in her future years. Not least amongst the revelations is the fact that she began...
Published 13 months ago by EleanorB

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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A personal biography of Elizabeth I
This is a popular biography of Elizabeth which eschews high politics for the personal. Focusing on Elizabeth's ladies of the bedchamber and re-telling the stories of her various entanglements and aborted marriage plans, this doesn't reveal anything new but may be an interesting read to anyone only familiar with the queen and her court through fiction.

All the...
Published 15 months ago by Roman Clodia


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth as she really was or as close as we will ever get!, 27 Jun 2013
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EleanorB - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court (Hardcover)
Excellent, excellent book. A detailed examination of the Virgin Queen's life, health, friendships, frailties and fears. Far from always being the Gloriana depicted in famous portraits, here was woman who inherited her throne after many trials and tribulations which clearly left their mark in her future years. Not least amongst the revelations is the fact that she began to lose her hair not long after becoming Queen, which was quite probably stress related. Biographically, we read Elizabeth's life with the benefit of hindsight, but her life was lived (as all our lives are) in real time and each new challenge that presented itself and each new pressure on her to marry and secure a Protestant succession had to be dealt with in hard circumstances, against a background of real and present dangers to her liberty and life. It is also clear that she was deeply uncomfortable with the idea of giving up personal control to a husband, nor did she wish to endure the physical dangers of childbirth.

She clearly loved male attention, but was probably also afraid of sex. I like to think that Robert Dudley, absolutely the love of her life, provided her with all the attention and support that she needed, without crossing that dangerous line and becoming a full blown lover.

At the heart of Elizabeth's story is the inescapable fact that she was two people in one: on the one hand the naturally aging woman, with thin hair, bad teeth and frequent illnesses, and on the other the crowned Queen, anointed in the name of God as the sacred embodiment of royal majesty.

The women who shared her life, who became in effect her family, knew her on a daily basis, and understood the constant pressures she was under, whilst still having to be England's beautiful and gracious Queen. A big ask! These ladies, many of whom juggled their own family pressures, had key roles in her life, were aware of everything there was to know about her body and some, such as Kat Ashley, shared the secrets of her heart. If she did lie about her virginity, it would have been known at least by some of them as Elizabeth was almost never alone - even at night, because as the title of the book makes clear, these were extremely intimate relationships.

This book gives vivid insight into the day to day life of the Elizabethan court and the woman whose life came to define an era - the Elizabethan age - and also shows us a flesh and blood person in all her human complexity.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A personal biography of Elizabeth I, 8 May 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court (Hardcover)
This is a popular biography of Elizabeth which eschews high politics for the personal. Focusing on Elizabeth's ladies of the bedchamber and re-telling the stories of her various entanglements and aborted marriage plans, this doesn't reveal anything new but may be an interesting read to anyone only familiar with the queen and her court through fiction.

All the expected episodes are here: the youthful yet disturbing flirtation with Thomas Seymour, then married to Elizabeth's step-mother Katherine Parr; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Christopher Hatton; Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex; as well as the various negotiations for marriage with the royal houses of France and Spain.

The idea that Elizabeth's sexuality, body and fertility is especially under scrutiny because of her gender doesn't really stand up given the intense gossip and political concern over her father's, Henry VIII, own hectic love-life, though he didn't, of course, have to maintain an aura of chastity in the way that Elizabeth did.

So, ultimately, this doesn't do anything different with the expected sources or reveal anything new about Elizabeth. But if you only know her through popular fiction and the various TV and film treatments that abound, this is an easy and informative read that zips along breezily as it offers the historical picture behind the fiction.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive!, 5 July 2013
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This review is from: Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court (Hardcover)
Beware! If you are going to read this book, make sure you can put everything aside for a while because you will not want to put it down! An excellent piece of work, and by far my favourite academic book. Literally addictive. I disagree with the other review on here that the book does not demonstrate anything new in regards to Elizabeth's femininity- this book demonstrates exactly the opposite. It enables us as the reader to discover the true Elizabeth, her limitations as female in regards to her body politic and demonstrates how Elizabeth was able to network with other women at the court, particularly through the esteemed role as 'bedfellow' of the queen.
An incredible book, there is nothing academically similar to this and I would strongly advise anyone with a historical interest in Gloriana to read this- you will NOT be disappointed!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An 'intimate' look at Elizabeth I?, 8 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court (Hardcover)
This was a beautifully written book which sought to illuminate the reign of Elizabeth I from the most private perspective of her Privy Chamber and Bedchamber. Whitelock focused on her 'bedfellows', who were her most privileged ladies-in-waiting and maids of honour.

The book's editing, however, was suspect, since the punctuation was not very well done. Words were also missing at times.

I would also question what makes this book any different to a standard popular biography of Queen Elizabeth. It was fascinating reading, but much of it focused on a narrative of the queen's reign with episodes, such as Mary Queen of Scots' captivity and downfall, which did not at all relate to Elizabeth's bedfellows or aimed to explore her reign from an intimate perspective. Furthermore, as an American professor has written in relation to books such as this, this book was very much in 'the realm of popular history, which privileges anecdotes over analysis and repeats unsubstantiated rumours, many of them sexual in connotation'.

However, it was still an enjoyable and interesting read. The reign of Elizabeth is intriguing, and I particularly enjoyed the epilogue, which focused on how Elizabeth's sexual life has been intensely scrutinised, debated and speculated over ever since her death.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very new look at the first Elizabeth., 10 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court (Hardcover)
Detailed research enables one to get an insight into the life of the queen and those women intimately involved in her personal life. It presents quite a startling picture of an extraordinary woman and her machinations. A very troubled life and deeply sad in so many ways. Anna Whitelock paints a fascinating picture of the queen and the attitudes of her court and times.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting take on a period of history, 4 Aug 2013
By 
KLP "KLP" (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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Elizabeth I's reign is well documented. This is an interesting take on her history. It's well written and I like the chronology of it. Writing is clear and, while you have all the historical facts and background research, it's not overburdened by dense information - making it an enjoyable read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eccellent Book, 17 July 2013
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very well written. my favourite subject is Elizabeth 1st and I have read many others by different authors. This is more informative in other areas. I highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 July 2014
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great book
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good history book, 27 May 2014
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M. B. Gluck "Expert Traveller" (Buckinghamshire England) - See all my reviews
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A very easy to read book that enables you to understand her life and the transformation of England from being a Catholic country to being a Kingdom free of Rome and the Pope.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A lively read and an interesting approach, although there is little new or noteworthy here..., 23 Feb 2014
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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Of all of England's monarchs none has been subject to such prurient and physical scrutiny as Elizabeth I. History has been obsessed with her body and chastity, from her very earliest days as first a young princess and heir to an illegitimate bastard and back again, right up to today. The gossip and scandal surrounding her physicality and sexuality came in a very real way to define her entire reign and her relations with her nobles, subjects, foreign ambassadors and fellow princes.

Elizabeth very deliberately played upon and enhanced the traditional dual image of the monarch's person, the natural body, and the body politic being one and the same. If Elizabeth's body was pure, legitimate and uncorrupted, so too was her government and right to rule. In the service of this she cast herself in a very specific role - ever-youthful, ever-beautiful, uncorrupted and incorruptible, subject to no man, the Virgin Queen. It is no coincidence that in seeking to undermine and destabilise her country, her enemies took aim not just at her physical body via poisonings and assassination attempts, but also her 'moral body', her reputation, via scurrilous rumours and gossip about lovers, orgies and illegitimate children.

Whitelock takes that dual image as the central theme of this book, exploring Elizabeth's intimate personal life with those who would have known her best - her Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber and her varied favourites: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex; Sir Walter Raleign; Sir Christopher Hatton - and how those relationships impacted on her rule and government.

It's a lively read and an interesting approach, although with such short chapters it does take on a somewhat episodic feel at times. Whitelock never takes a position as to Elizabeth's sexuality and chastity, something I respect and admire from a woman and an historian. At this remove of history it would be dishonest to pretend that such certainty was remotely possibly, and it is surely no coincidence that most of those throughout history who have claimed such positions were almost all men. A King, after all, would never have had to take such a position to bolster his legitimacy and secure his throne in the first place.
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Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court
Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court by Anna Whitelock (Hardcover - 23 May 2013)
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