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on 4 April 2015
This is a very well researched book, which is also very easy to read. Tracy Borman's has the great gift of being able to impart facts in a way that makes the book very, very interesting and you feel you are reading a novel. I appreciated that she didn't jump back and forth over time but concentrated on each woman from the start of her relationship with Elizabeth to the end. This book made me at times feel very sorry for Elizabeth but at others I felt she was a tyrant and her behaviour to these women was dreadful. A wholly engrossing book, well written and researched.
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on 22 July 2010
Tracey Borman concentrates on Elizabeth's personal and political relationships with the important women throughout her life and how these relationships helped to shape her character. Overall it is a wonderfully written book, informal in style, and ideal for one not well read on Elizabeth.

If you are well read on Tudor history you may find parts of the book tiresome and maybe better served by current books dedicated solely to these subjects. Here I am thinking of the political relationships with the female members of her family; her mother and step-mothers, most notably her time with Katherine Parr after Henry VIII's death and the Thomas Seymour scandal, the danger posed to Elizabeth during Mary Tudor's reign and how Elizabeth unsympathetically and ruthlessly dealt with the many female claimants to her throne; Mary, Queen of Scots, the younger Grey sisters, Margaret, Countess of Lennox and Arbella Stuart. The full title of the book is a little misleading as Elizabeth's relationships with the women in her family have never been hidden and Borman offers nothing new of value here.

However, where the book comes into it's own is when Borman touches on how the treatment of her step-mothers, most notably Katherine Howard and her half-sister's disastrous and humiliating marriage helped to mould her own view never to marry. This leads to the most interesting aspect of the book; Elizabeth's relationships with the wealth of attendants surrounding her before and after she became queen. Refreshingly Borman does not shy away from painting a more negative picture of Elizabeth's character, suggesting her decision never to marry caused jealousy and bitterness toward these attendants when they wished to do so. Littered throughout Elizabeth's reign are many examples of these attendants marrying in secret and the revenge exacted by the queen afterwards, most notably when Lettice Knollys married the queen's long-standing favourite, Robert Dudley. Elizabeth expected complete loyalty from these attendants and those that were very close to her; Katherine Astley and Blanche Parry in particular, enjoyed huge favour. Despite women being barred from political office, Borman suggests that these attendants did in fact have huge political influence as the men of the court used them as effective go-betweens with the queen.

Despite feeling positive on finishing the book I would have much preferred Borman to have written a book solely concerning Elizabeth's decision not to marry, in my opinion the key theme of her reign.
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on 8 September 2010
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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on 16 April 2015
This is a different view of Elizabeth and, as usual with this author, VERY readable. The best chapter for me was the one on Mary, Queen of Scots. I'm usually aware of some author bias, and maybe Tracey has a liking for Elizabeth, but the clear, concise detail in one chapter is what I would really recommend to any student of the period. Excellent read. Her research is great and it shows in the bibliography.
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on 7 January 2016
Usual Tracy Borman high standard of writing. She makes masses of factual information,including letters and speeches, somehow easy to assimilate and enjoyable at the same time. A real eye opener for the fan of Tudor history.
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on 22 May 2018
Loved this book it is written so you almost feel like you are there in the privy chambers, it is amazing how many reports from the time have survived to give us an insight into the Tudor world.
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on 22 May 2018
Interesting new things I never knew before about her great read couldn't put it down on holiday
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on 18 August 2017
I bought this formy daughter, who adores the Tudor period.She really enjoyed it.
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on 8 December 2017
Excellent book, I loved it.
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on 27 February 2018
Book arrived as promised. Hardback book, in good condition, required for course. Pleased with purchase.
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