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Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen Paperback – 6 May 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (6 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099548623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099548621
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"It’s a challenge to cast fresh light on figures such as Anne Boleyn and Mary Tudor, but Borman rises to it… Perhaps Borman’s most significant achievement is to have given us and innovative exploration of the implications of Elizabeth’s gender for her queenship, and a new perspective on this most closely studied of reigns"--BBC History Magazine

Book Description

A groundbreaking and fascinating biography of England's most famous queen, viewed through the women who influenced her life.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe this is a book the first of its kind to delve into the power relationships between the women who directly attended to their queen's personal needs and the overwhelmingly male court of Elizabeth the First. Never before, because of the gender of the English monarch, had women of this social class found themselves wielding so much political influence. Elizabeth I's early life was fraught with very real danger because she remained the least cherished of Henry VII's children. She was lucky to have found solace from her wise and learned stepmother, Katherine Parr; but almost was undone by the scheming of her governess, Kat Champerowne and her ruthless stepfather who had designs on making her his wife should anything happen to Queen Katherine. The one complaint I had about this book was that the author seem to repeat verbatim the very biased pro-Catholic sources about Anne Boleyn without further scholarly investigation. Rather than spending any time on examining correspondence between her ladies in waiting, the Queen and various petitioners, Borman seems content to repeat how Elizabeth dealt with various claimants to the English throne, namely Mary, Queen of Scots, and the hapless Arabella Stuart. Interestingly, the women who served Elizabeth the longest chose NOT to use their influence to obtain favors for friends and family members. Overall, this book presents an original and fresh take on the court surrounding Elizabeth I but this topic could do with more thorough research.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Probably the best book I have read about the great lady. I really like the approach that Tracy Borman has taken - it shows a side to Elizabeth I that doesn't usually come across in most biographies. Still the complex, contradictory, sometimes vindictive woman that we've all read about but this book focuses on the events and the people which made Elizabeth the way she was. It is impossible not to feel great sympathy for her, particularly for the young motherless princess. The strongest characteristic which comes through, for me, was her loyalty to those she loved.
It sparked my imagination in a way history books don't usually. I found myself wondering so many "what ifs" while reading this book - what if she had married and had children? What if she had met Mary Queen of Scots? What if Anne Boleyn had not been executed?
This is a very readable, far from boring account of Elizabeth I and I think it will appeal particularly to women because of the empathy the author has towards her subject.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read so many books on the Tudors that initially I wasn't sure I would find much to interest me and I bought it mainly because I like the style of the author, Tracey Borman, but after a few pages I was hooked.

Concentrating entirely on a totally overlooked aspect of Elizabeth's life, her relationships with the women who interacted with her, from step-mothers, half-sister Queen Mary, numerous cousins who had a place in the succession such as Mary, Queen of Scots through to her governesses and ladies-in-waiting, the book reveals a side of Elizabeth unknown to me. And I didn't much like what I discovered. Her love and loyalty was bestowed only on those women who were prepared to admire her unconditionally and put her first in their lives such as her governess Kat Ashley, her step-mother Katherine Parr. Even this was not always enough to secure her appreciation as Lady Mary Sidney found out after nursing Elizabeth devotedly through the smallpox and having caught it herself was so badly scarred by it as to be unrecognisable she was then deprived of her good apartments at Court and assigned a cold, draughty lodging for which she begged for wall-hangings to keep out the cold in vain.

Elizabeth treated her rivals with scant respect: when her sister and predecessor on the throne Mary Tudor died Elizabeth insisted her epitaph be altered becuase it included no mention of herself and left Mary, Queen of Scots to remain unburied until her corpse became unbearably noisome. Being the much vaunted Virgin Queen made her envious of those women close to her who found happiness in marriage and very dog-in-the mangerishly determined that nobody should have what she did not.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the most interesting books I have read about Queen Elizabeth the 1st, normally they detail the men in her life, so this is the 1st book I have read that deals with the women that surrounded her both good and bad.
It is not a dry and academic book that the ordinary reader might struggle with (eg myself!) neither is it patronising, a really enjoyable and very interesting read.
Look forward to more of her work, she will now be up there with my other favourite, Alison Weir.
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Format: Paperback
I really cannot help but like this book. The focus remains tight throughout on the women in Elizabeth's life and only dips into the rest to provide much needed background information to add to the picture of Elizabeth that Tracey Borman seeks to discover.

My only criticism is that Borman does not examine Elizabeth during the invasion of the Armada in more depth. All you read are the famous quotations, very bare facts and a conclusion which lacks any build up of argument. I do feel that Borman missed an opportunity to show even deeper insight into Elizabeth in this short but dramatically power-enhancing part of her life. To rush on to Arbella Stuart seems a bit pointless in comparison to having basically skipped through the absolute pinnacle of Elizabeth's reign. I am left feeling out of the loop as to why this topic is neglected......

On the whole however, this book is delightful, it includes extracts from sources in the authentic Elizabethan language and the author's examination of evidence is balanced throughout but not without inspiration. It does not feed a so-called cult view of Elizabeth nor does it try and deconstruct such a Gloriana obsession. It does however illustrate how Elizabeth created this cult around herself as a very sharp political tool.

I recommend this to anyone who is drawn to this historical figure for whatever reason, it provides a personal history of Elizabeth that academics seem to shy away from all too often. Too many history books try to be impartial to the point of dryness and writers like Tracey Borman bring much needed colour back to the subject.

Despite my criticism I still give it a 5 star rating.
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