I’m a big fan of Alison Weir’s non-fiction books of British history, so I was excited to see she had written a historical fiction novel of the early life of Elizabeth I. The Lady Elizabeth spans Elizabeth’s life from toddlerhood to the point when she discovers that Queen Mary is dead, and she will be queen. (I am assuming a sequel is in the works).
I have to say, I had my ups and downs with this book. At some points, I was completely intrigued and couldn’t put it down. At other points, I felt it dragged and way too many pages were being devoted to one point in time. There is a subplot in this book (SPOILER ALERT!) of Elizabeth being taken advantage of by her stepfather and then becoming pregnant. Weir herself states that she does not believe that this is true, but is using speculation and artistic license, however, I felt far too much of the book was devoted to this and that it will be something that readers will take away far more easily than any of the truth that is portrayed and woven into the story.
Several readers in my book group found the depiction of young Elizabeth as overly precocious, to the point that she seemed unnatural or incredible. However, much of what I’ve read has stated that Elizabeth was highly precocious as a child and had a great affinity for learning. She was regarded as a fine scholar as a child and young adult. So it is possible that her precociousness was not inadequately portrayed.
Overall, I was somewhat disappointed in this story as I felt it at times was heavier on the “fiction” than the “historical”. However, I do like Weir’s writing style and do respect her as a scholar. I did enjoy her depictions of the other historical characters in this novel, such as Henry VIII and Queen Mary.
I would give this book 3 1/2 stars! I got mine from the library.