Let me start with what I liked about this book. It was real, in a sense. If you are sick of books where the likeable petty criminal escapes with a clever move, or the blushing virgin escapes a would-be rapist with virginity intact, you might appreciate his style.
Also - I liked that the author agrees with the true and oft-overlooked concept that women who are victims of rape can still be functioning members of society...even successful and self-assured.
What I couldn't take was the gratuitous cruelty he inflicts upon his characters. If you enjoy getting emotionally involved in a character's progress through the plot, then having to sit through a graphic description of gang rape after gang rape, well, so be it.
I listen to audiobooks while I drift off to sleep, and this one gave me some pretty traumatic middle-of-the-night kicks to the head.
This book is extremely well written, while bringing to the table an entirely new point of view - that of Leicester's wife, Amy Robsart Dudley. I have always wondered about her, and this was a fascinating journey into her experiences, based on historical fact. Elizabeth appears in this novel in all of her sparkling glory, but very human as well. Phillipa Gregory injects the wild ride of political intrigue into the story, as we jump back an forth between Amy and the court. I wish I could read it again. My only complaint is the length - I would have read twice the length!
By the end of the book I was very attached to the characters, the places, the stories - I highly recommend this audiobook! I wish I could "read" it again right away!
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