The New York Times best-selling author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The War of the Roses, historian Alison Weir crafts fascinating portraits of England’s infamous House of Tudor line. Here Weir focuses on Elizabeth I, also known as the Virgin Queen, who ascended to the throne at age 25 and never married, yet ruled for 44 years and steered England into its Golden Age.
©1998 Alison Weir (P)2003 Recorded Books
“A riveting portrait of the queen and how the private woman won her public role.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Read from October 06 to 31, 2013
Narrator: 4 stars
Book: 2.5 stars - DNF
I've always been fascinated by Queen Elizabeth I, and after reading Alison Weir's novelization (to use the term loosely) of Elizabeth's pre-reign life (The Lady Elizabeth), I wanted to experience her take on Elizabeth from the perspective of a historian rather than a novelist, since she seems to not only be a great researcher, but also not someone with an obvious bias for or against this queen.
Unfortunately, there was something I'd forgotten from the other works of Weir's that I've read: her tendency to get stuck on a "theme" and repeat it repetitively continuously redundantly throughout her books, bringing the same thing up over and over repetitiously. Did I mention she tends to repeat herself time and time again?
This is a 24-hour long audiobook (and Davina Porter does an excellent job bringing life to what could have been dull non-fiction in another's less-capable hands), and the first 18 or so hours of it focus on the fact that ELIZABETH WASN'T MARRIED and played around with the idea a couple of times but never actually got married. Did I mention that everyone wanted Elizabeth to get married, but she didn't really want to? Oh, and she spent all her time with Robert Dudley, not to mention the fact that she was an emotional basketcase and screamed and yelled at people when she didn't get her way or when they reminded her she wasn't married or told her she should get married or presented an idea of whom she could marry to her. Oh, and did I mention SHE WASN'T MARRIED? Because obviously, this was the absolute most vital, important part of her reign that Weir spent about 75% of the book focused on the fact that ELIZABETH WASN'T MARRIED.
By the time I finally gave up trying to force myself to finish this book and moved on to something else, I'd learned one very important thing:
ALISON WEIR WANTED TO MAKE SURE WE ALL KNEW THAT ELIZABETH WASN'T MARRIED.
Oh, and apparently she couldn't do anything without Robert Dudley, either. They fought and she sent him away, but then she had to have him back because she couldn't "do" without him for very long. But she wouldn't marry him.
And if there was anything international to do, it was only because ELIZABETH WASN'T MARRIED and she might be looking abroad for someone to marry.
So, all that to say that this probably wasn't the best bio of Queen Elizabeth I for me to read. Because, actually, I already knew that Elizabeth WASN'T MARRIED and NEVER MARRIED. (Except, possibly, David Tennant's version of Doctor Who---but that's another story.)
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Obviously Elizabeth's virginity was important, but I wish the book had been less preoccupied with her hymen.
What can one say about such a subject, written by such an excellent writer as Alison Weir. Ms. Weir puts so much more into the story, rather than simply regurgitating historical information that can be gleaned from an encyclopedia. Good show!
I'm looking for more of Alison Weir's books. She has a rare talent; something not to be taken lightly.
I walk 7 miles a day and listen to about 3 audiobooks a week.
This is a historical novel and is well done.It really needs to be more of a story to hold my interest. I did struggle with parts of it.
The reader, Davina Porter is great!
I had heard that Elizabeth was the 'Business Queen', so I came with the expectation that that aspect would be covered, at least in part; but no - this book focused on her marriage prospects (and there were enough to fill an entire book), though for a male, it gets a bit tedious. A housewife would love it, however - a female is at the center of attention throughout.
So the book is good history, but focused. From the opening sentence I became braced for a 'femme-centric' perspective, and the book 'delivered'. For example, you will get details on what kind of flowers adorned ornamental poles for a celebratory event. Good stuff for decorators (I would have chose a more Spartan decor, stone everything, but that is just me - a male). A refreshing aspect was that it was not about war, conquest, and glory, which has been the dominant (and primitive) mindset of humanity to date, though another eternal aspect of human history, Court intrigue, was (inevitably in this case) present.
I love this author. I love this history. I would have completely LOVED this book... but, I'm sorry to say, that I HATED the narration. Perhaps a different book would be more suited. I hate to say I don't like someone's performance... but I honestly could not even finish listening and just downloaded the print edition instead. Her voice is too dry for such a historical text in my opinion. Simon Prebble brought life to the wives of Henry VIII and I couldn't wait to start on this book next.... so sorely disappointed. For as much as I enjoyed the narration of that book, I disliked the narration of this book substantially more.
What a disappointment! Listening to this book would leave one to believe that Elizabeth I was one of the most one dimensional and uninteresting monarchs in history. Literally - hours could have been edited out of this work that focus solely on the question of will she or won't she marry! It's so dry in the telling...Sahara dry! It was a real slog to get through. Such an interesting time in history reduced to the banal. Weir is so focused on facts there is no story - the best stories are usually true! Why didn't she let fly with the colorful people, pirates, wars, economy, etc? I'm by no means suggesting she color in the details, she didn't need to, good telling would have done it easily for her. This Elizabeth I is a card board cut out...not brought to life at all. It was like sitting through a class taught by the the kind of history professor that causes your eyes to water with the struggle of keeping them open. Where there is so much focus on dates on facts the life's breath of the people are sucked out and wasted in pedantic verbiage. A little insight into the nature and motivations of these people and time would have gone a long way....
Great book. It was sometimes difficult to keep track of people as they were given new titles. I wasn't sure if the book was completely chronological or not.
The narrator was great. She used different voices when quoting people.
I read "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" by the same author and enjoyed it, so I bought this book, being an admirer of Elizabeth I. The book is well-written, and Davina Porter is, as always, a superb narrator. But this biography doesn't bring much new to light about the life of Elizabeth I. An inordinate amount of time was spent in minute examination of Elizabeth's many offers of marriage and presumed dalliances (Weir concludes that Elizabeth was actually afraid of marriage and sex and really was a virgin queen--technically). Most of these marriage proposals were just red herrings and had no real impact on the politics or events in England at the time. I was hoping for more about Elizabeth's erudition, her impact on English law, her religious tolerance, her brutal incursions into Ireland, etc., but while these things were touched on, not enough was said about them. In fact, I thought the book focused on things that, had she been a man, would barely have been mentioned: marriage proposals and boyfriends.
Alison Weir wrote an extremely well-researched and well-written book, I just wasn't as interested in Elizabeth's life (or in the parts she focused on) as much as I hoped I would be. I ended up speeding up the narration pace to get me through the interminable chapters about the many, many, many, many times Elizabeth feints towards marriage, then backs away (so many hours of my life!). If I could have read the book without those chapters, I think I'd have enjoyed it quite a bit more. Part of the trouble of listening with an audiobook is that if the author includes any timelines or family trees, you-obviously-miss out on those tools. (Did she include these in the book? I don't know, but that would have really helped keep everything straight. I found myself constantly wondering how old the queen was at this particular point, who was ruling whichever other country, etc.)
I wish the author had focused a bit more on how the realm as a whole was doing, more of what place England held in the world, the differences between how she found it and how she left it, etc., but that is my personal preference. The details included were authentic and amazing. Having grown up in a country where the leadership election process is so ingrained, I couldn't believe that the question of succession was left to the bitter end! I completely understood the frustration of her courtiers, and also worried what effect such a pervasive feeling of uncertainty would have on the people. The author really helped also open my eyes towards the opinion that perhaps naming a successor would produce even worse results for the unity of the realm.
Well done, but not focused on what I find interesting. I found the biography of Catherine the Great (by Robert K. Massie) much more to my liking, mostly due to the deeper historical context.
The narrator was fantastic, as promised by all the reviews I read prior to listening to this book.
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