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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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One of the biggest issues that always faced Queen Elizabeth I in her lifetime was the succession to the English throne. Before she became queen, her concern was whether she would live long enough or be able to succeed her father, her brother or her sister. And once she was queen, who would succeed her? Her councillors and indeed politicians all over Europe were quite sure she would soon marry and have children so as to ensure the Tudor succession. Who she would marry was considered just as much a matter for political consultation, not her personal gratification. Should she marry an Englishman or someone outside England? A Catholic or a Protestant? A King who would have his own loyalties to his country, or a Prince who could settle in England and be consort to England’s Queen Regnant? But given that Elizabeth’s sister Mary’s marriage had not been successful in this regard, there was understandable hesitation in committing the Queen to a marriage that would bind England also.

Elizabeth herself kept her people and her councillors guessing just about her whole reign as to the marriage question, or the “marriage game” as Alison Weir has rightly termed it in this novel. Elizabeth’s heart may have been given to Robert Dudley, but he was unacceptable to many for multiple reasons – he was married when Elizabeth became queen, and his wife’s fate only heightened Dudley’s unsuitability to be husband to Elizabeth. Politically Elizabeth could have chosen her sister’s widower, or a French prince, or any other suitably titled and acceptable candidate. But for many reasons, both political and personal Elizabeth ruled alone. All that is widely known, but Alison Weir has taken that and woven it into a magical novel of Elizabeth the woman, and Elizabeth the Queen. As Queen, politics could never be divorced from her private life, and it is in this terrible wasteland between head and heart that Elizabeth must move for her whole reign.

As always, Alison Weir has written an enthralling and engaging historical novel; definitely recommended for anyone wanting to read about Queen Elizabeth I, whether you are familiar with the story or not. A delightful read.
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on 29 July 2014
This is basically a Mills and Boon for the Tudor Era. Nothing truly happens, the plot weaves back and forth and amounts to the same thing, and there are a couple of poorly written sentences that could be construed as historically inaccurate but I think just isn't very clear writing. I usually love Alison Weir's books - not sure what happened with this one.
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on 22 March 2016
The word "yuck" springs to mind all too readily. Half-way through and I have just given up in disgust. You would be embarrassed if anyone caught you reading this cringe-worthy slush. I have really enjoyed Alison Weir's historical books, but this really comes across as what I would expect from a first-time submission to Mills and Boon by a teenager. It is irritatingly repetitive and turns the lead characters into people you would really rather like to see go to the block. I will now check Wikipedia in the hope that Dudley does indeed lose his head, rather than bother continuing with the story. As the monarch sometimes described as most worthy of the moniker "Great", aside from Alfred, Elizabeth really is portrayed in a most unflattering light.
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on 10 May 2015
If you like this sort of historical fiction (and I usually do) it's hard to avoid Alison Weir, and I thought I'd give her one more try with this.
It's a well-worn story, but how can you go wrong with the Virgin Queen? Fascinating characters, huge historical events, unsolved mysteries, murky plots, fabulous outfits - this period has it all.
But good grief, what a tedious job this author has made of it. Round and round goes the single plotline - will the queen marry or not? - with no original slant or analysis. Instead, we get endlessly repetitive versions of an annoying woman flouncing in and out of council meetings, titillating various suitors then changing her mind, and keeping poor old Leicester in a state of permanent frustration during some very prissy and unlikely love scenes. Surely there was more to Elizabeth I than this?
There's no attempt to do anything with the narrative apart from plod through what happens next, and she's got an awful habit of summing up after every scene, like this:
"... all her extravagant flirting with Simier was an elaborate ploy to preserve the illusion that she was an eternally young and eminently marriageable woman ..."
Do you know, despite the terrible dialogue, I'd actually worked that out for myself?
Thankfully, after the Armada in 1588 it all fizzles out rather abruptly, as if even the author had grown tired of it.
It's competent, she's obviously done a lot of research, and I suppose I've read worse. But how this book managed to get all those glowing reviews ( ...endlessly fascinating...captivating...brilliant...deeply poignant...breathtaking... ) remains a mystery.
And that really is the end of Alison Weir for me.
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One of the biggest issues that always faced Queen Elizabeth I in her lifetime was the succession to the English throne. Before she became queen, her concern was whether she would live long enough or be able to succeed her father, her brother or her sister. And once she was queen, who would succeed her? Her councillors and indeed politicians all over Europe were quite sure she would soon marry and have children so as to ensure the Tudor succession. Who she would marry was considered just as much a matter for political consultation, not her personal gratification. Should she marry an Englishman or someone outside England? A Catholic or a Protestant? A King who would have his own loyalties to his country, or a Prince who could settle in England and be consort to England’s Queen Regnant? But given that Elizabeth’s sister Mary’s marriage had not been successful in this regard, there was understandable hesitation in committing the Queen to a marriage that would bind England also.

Elizabeth herself kept her people and her councillors guessing just about her whole reign as to the marriage question, or the “marriage game” as Alison Weir has rightly termed it in this novel. Elizabeth’s heart may have been given to Robert Dudley, but he was unacceptable to many for multiple reasons – he was married when Elizabeth became queen, and his wife’s fate only heightened Dudley’s unsuitability to be husband to Elizabeth. Politically Elizabeth could have chosen her sister’s widower, or a French prince, or any other suitably titled and acceptable candidate. But for many reasons, both political and personal Elizabeth ruled alone. All that is widely known, but Alison Weir has taken that and woven it into a magical novel of Elizabeth the woman, and Elizabeth the Queen. As Queen, politics could never be divorced from her private life, and it is in this terrible wasteland between head and heart that Elizabeth must move for her whole reign.

As always, Alison Weir has written an enthralling and engaging historical novel; definitely recommended for anyone wanting to read about Queen Elizabeth I, whether you are familiar with the story or not. A delightful read.
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One of the biggest issues that always faced Queen Elizabeth I in her lifetime was the succession to the English throne. Before she became queen, her concern was whether she would live long enough or be able to succeed her father, her brother or her sister. And once she was queen, who would succeed her? Her councillors and indeed politicians all over Europe were quite sure she would soon marry and have children so as to ensure the Tudor succession. Who she would marry was considered just as much a matter for political consultation, not her personal gratification. Should she marry an Englishman or someone outside England? A Catholic or a Protestant? A King who would have his own loyalties to his country, or a Prince who could settle in England and be consort to England’s Queen Regnant? But given that Elizabeth’s sister Mary’s marriage had not been successful in this regard, there was understandable hesitation in committing the Queen to a marriage that would bind England also.

Elizabeth herself kept her people and her councillors guessing just about her whole reign as to the marriage question, or the “marriage game” as Alison Weir has rightly termed it in this novel. Elizabeth’s heart may have been given to Robert Dudley, but he was unacceptable to many for multiple reasons – he was married when Elizabeth became queen, and his wife’s fate only heightened Dudley’s unsuitability to be husband to Elizabeth. Politically Elizabeth could have chosen her sister’s widower, or a French prince, or any other suitably titled and acceptable candidate. But for many reasons, both political and personal Elizabeth ruled alone. All that is widely known, but Alison Weir has taken that and woven it into a magical novel of Elizabeth the woman, and Elizabeth the Queen. As Queen, politics could never be divorced from her private life, and it is in this terrible wasteland between head and heart that Elizabeth must move for her whole reign.

As always, Alison Weir has written an enthralling and engaging historical novel; definitely recommended for anyone wanting to read about Queen Elizabeth I, whether you are familiar with the story or not. A delightful read.
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on 24 August 2016
"Decisions, decisions, decisions" seems to be the reappearing theme for this tale of the private and court life of Queen Elizabeth I. Being the sequel to The Lady Elizabeth, The Marriage Game spans from 1558 to 1603 and Ms. Weir takes her readers into the heart of the religious and political turmoil that consumed England during these unsettled times and places us in the mind of the woman who was seen to bring a golden light to her people and country. Instead of an unrealistic immortal view of a queen Ms. Weir shows us a mortal being that fears, contemplates and desires love during her reign on the throne. In The Marriage Game, The Court of Elizabeth I is painted in a very frantic and complicated light with whispers of scandal and impending disaster that adds to the matters of the daily life of Elizabeth I. Love is fleeting in these pages and it is sometimes hard to imagine that true love can overpower the desire for a coveted crown. And yet Ms. Weir recreates the complicated relationship that played out in this chaotic world with Robert Dudley as Elizabeth's connection to her past and endless future possibilities and that is when she lost this reader unfortunately.

Up to this point I enjoyed the complicated shard-like view of Elizabeth I but once the many ways to say "no" "maybe" and "wait" made a rampant montage of the chapters I became a little frustrated and disappointed. I would have to say albeit repetitious, paced (especially towards the end), with debatable speculations and a surprising missing authentic flavour of dialogue; this will not be my last read by Ms. Weir. Hearing such praise and recommendations from other readers perhaps The Marriage Game better suited to another curious reader as an introduction to the reign of Elizabeth I and this reader will try Innocent Traitor or A Dangerous Inheritance in the near future. Overall, I would still recommend The Marriage Game to those that enjoy this period of history, complicated relationships and a private view of royalty.
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*I would like to thank Ballantine Books and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and enjoy The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I.
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on 7 February 2015
"On another occasion she was having her period.
'I feel lousy,' she complained, needing reassurance, 'and I look terrible.'
'You look beautiful to me, Bess,' Robert said, kissing her hand.
It was all she needed to hear. When St George's Day came, she made him a Knight of the Garter…"

I seriously cannot believe either that anyone published this, or that this writer is apparently a respected historian. This is a particularly horrendous example of her writing 'style' but the rest is scarcely any better. Utterly embarrassing.
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on 11 August 2014
Sooo badly written I couldn't get through it. Great historian but being a 'name' isn't enough to make someone a novelist.
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on 3 August 2014
I have to be really honest and say I am really disappointed with this book. On the one hand Alison Weir is a good historian, although I don't agree with all her theories and conclusions, but when it comes to fiction she doesn't have what it takes. There is nothing new in this book at all, its all been done before. It is also lacking in enough detail, important things are skirted over and treated with little importance.
To be honest no-one, for me, will ever beat Susan Kay's 'Legacy' when it comes to a FICTION book about Elizabeth 1 and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and this book doesn't even come remotely close to trying. Alison Weir is a better historian than novelist.
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