Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir

The Life of Elizabeth I
by Alison Weir
Publisher: Ballantine, 1998
ISBN: 9780345425508
532 pages
Genre: History; England & Wales
Source: Library copy


Summary in a Sentence:

Chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth I, and discusses both her political and private life; includes information on her relationships with Robert Dudley, Mary Stuart, and Philip of Spain.

My Thoughts: 

My interest in Queen Elizabeth I has long been fed by documentaries, movies, and historical fiction titles such as I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles. I've always found her to be very fascinating and thought it was high time I read a biography about her. But which one do I choose? I found it serendipitous when a student at the high school library at which I'm interning checked in this extensive biography of the Virgin Queen, so I  promptly checked it out myself.

I'm so glad I did. I've been on a bit of a non-fiction tear lately, and this biography didn't disappoint. Weir is very thorough, covering all aspects of the queen's reign, from her foreign policy to her personal life. The most discussed topic throughout Weir's writing is Elizabeth's battle to stay unmarried. Elizabeth spends years and years doing a courtly and strategic dance with other heads of state, leading them on for as long as possible in courtships she has no intention of agreeing to in order to keep the peace with foreign nations. Weir makes an excellent point that Elizabeth has good reason to be very wary of marriage. Just look at the disastrous marriages that her father kept entering into, and what happened to her unfortunate mother! Elizabeth knew that in order to be the true head of her country, she must remain single. I cannot imagine the pressure she constantly felt from both her advisors and subjects to capitulate and marry.

This book is recommended to all who are interested in Elizabeth and who want to read an extremely thorough narrative of the queen's private and public life.


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7 comments:

Nina said...

Sounds great. I love reading about Elizabeth. The background is just so interesting. Thanks for the review.

April said...

I have this and I, Elizabeth in my physical TBR. So glad you enjoyed it so much!! This bodes well for the TBR :-D

Lula O said...

I find this time period fascinating, and have read a lot from it this year. Just finished The Wives of Henry the VII, an excellent, informative read a few months ago. And I liked I, Elizabeth too. Especially the first half, the second half felt less realistic to me. I love that picture you posted of her by the way. She was an odd looking woman. Looked too much like her father poor girl! It's probably what saved her though, with what was made up about her mother, no one had a doubt she was his offspring.

Great review!

Lisa said...

Elizabeth was such a fascinating woman. I've always been interested in her and I'm glad to find a good biography about her.

Lezlie said...

I keep meaning to read some of Weir's nonfiction. Which one of hers have you liked best?

Lezlie

Katy said...

Great review! I have this book on my shelf, just waiting to be read. :)

Cym Lowell said...

I have read a lot of reviews on this book. You did a good job reviewing!

-CYM