Friday, July 2, 2010

"The Virgin's Lover" by Philippa Gregory

Title: The Virgin's Lover
Author: Philippa Gregory
Published: Touchstone, 2004
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: I needed a book on Elizabeth I


"As a new queen, Elizabeth faces two great dangers: the French invasion of Scotland, which threatens to put Mary Queen of Scots on her throne, and her passion for the convicted traitor Robert Dudley.
But Dudley is already married, and his devoted wife Amy will never give him up, least of all to an upstart Protestant Princess. She refuses to set her beloved husband free to marry the queen; but she cannot prevent him from becoming the favorite and the focus of the feverishly plotting, pleasure seeking court
Others too oppose the marriage, but for very different reasons. William Cecil, the queen's wisest counselor, knows she must marry for policy; her uncle hates Dudley and swears he will be murder him first. Behind the triangle of lovers, the factions take up their places: the Protestants, the priests, the assassins, the diplomats and the moneymakers. The very coin of England is shaved and clipped to nothing as Elizabeth uncertainly leads her bankrupt country into a war that no-one thinks can be won.
Then someone acts in secret, and for Elizabeth, Dudley and the emerging kingdom, nothing will be as planned."


Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck yuck. Initially when I read this book I liked it. I think this was my first book about Elizabeth I, so I was clueless. The writing was decent and the story line somewhat interesting. I felt that it focused to much on Amy Dudley, even though she was quite interesting herself (especially her mysterious death). I was really hoping for a book from Elizabeth's POV.

Looking back, however......the big problem that I see is that it's very hard to believe and difficult to swallow that, even though so young, Elizabeth was that clingy and needy. This big deal about her being a strong and courageous woman is questioned when you read about her having nervous breakdowns when Robert Dudley isn't around. Who would've wanted that bag of hormones running a country?

The second problem lies more with stupidity on the editors side. The book is set up chronologically and each chapter's title is a date, but half of the time, the years are wrong. For instance, Chapter 7 is titled '1563' and Chapter 8 is '1561' (just an example, I can't remember exactly what the typos are.) I spent at least 10 minutes staring at the book going 'Huh?!' Also, I got distracted by weird and random quotations and capitalizations. Maybe I just had a messed up version?

All in all, The Virgin's Lover left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It also reinforced my feelings that Philippa Gregory should not call herself an historian.

2 stars.

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