About the Book
New York Times best-selling Margaret George captures history’s most enthralling queen—as she confronts rivals to her throne and to her heart.
One of today’s premier historical novelists, Margaret George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma—the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel-bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England’s greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. But what was she really like?
In this novel, her flame-haired, look-alike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth’s rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth’s throne, Lettice has been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country, and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family. Their rivalry, and its ensuing drama, soon involves everyone close to Elizabeth, from the famed courtiers who enriched the crown to the legendary poets and playwrights who paid homage to it with their works. Intimate portraits of the personalities who made the Elizabethan age great—Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake—fill these pages, giving us an unforgettable glimpse of a queen who ruled as much from the heart as from the head, and considered herself married to her people.
This magnificent, stay-up-all-night page-turner is George’s finest and one that is sure to delight readers of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.
“This is Margaret George’s best book yet and a true masterpiece. Her Elizabeth in autumn is unforgettable.”
– Sharon Kay Penman
“This is one of the best historical novels I have read in ages, a stunning tour de force. It conveys a vivid and authentic sense of Elizabeth Tudor and her world. Extensively researched with the highest integrity, and deeply engaging, it sets a new benchmark for the genre. I cannot recommend it highly enough.” – Alison Weir
*Elizabeth I Margaret George, Viking
Personal and political conflicts among such larger-than-life historical figures as Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake, and Will Shakespeare intertwine in George’s meticulously envisioned portrait of Elizabeth I during the last 25 years of her reign. Unlike most contemporary depictions of the Virgin Queen, this one is actually a virgin; she’s married to England, whose interests she pursues with shrewdness, courage, and wisdom borne of surviving the deaths of her family. Readers see the queen through her own eyes and those of her cousin, Lettice Knollys, wife of Elizabethan heartthrob Robert Dudley, aka the earl of Leicester. Elizabeth’s antithesis, thrice-married and much-bedded Lettice, is driven by passion and self-interest, easily evidenced by the story’s beginnings: it’s 1588, and Elizabeth meets the threat of the Spanish Armada head-on while Lettice calculates how her son might benefit. Like her heroine, George (The Autobiography of Henry VIII) possesses an eye for beauty and a knack for detail, creating a vibrant story that, for nearly 700 pages, enables readers to experience firsthand Elizabeth’s decisions, triumphs, and losses. Rather than turn Elizabeth I into a romantic heroine, George painstakingly reveals a monarch who defined an era. (Apr.)
February 1, 2011
Having already tackled Henry VIII (The Autobiography of Henry VIII, 1986) and Mary, Queen of Scots (Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles, 1992), George now turns to Elizabeth I. Narrating her own story, Elizabeth is in late middle age, still formidable, but having hot flashes and keeping notes as a memory aid. Robert Dudley, the love of her life, dies early on, and one by one she loses most of her other trusted councillors as well. Dudley’s ambitious and wayward stepson Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex, arrives at court and becomes her last great favorite. As she did in The Autobiography of Henry VIII, George adds an extra dimension by providing a second narrator; here it is Essex’s mother (and Dudley’s widow), Lettice Knollys. Banished from court because of an irregular marriage, Lettice conducts an adventurous sex life (one of her lovers is Will Shakespeare) and schemes to push Essex into power and restore the family fortunes. George’s mastery of period detail and her sure navigation through the rocky shoals of Elizabethan politics mean this lengthy novel never flags.
— Mary Ellen Quinn