This novel about the life of Queen Elizabeth I before she was crowned queen is a daring, somewhat gossipy tell-all based (mostly) on historical facts. Author Alison Weir is first and foremost a nonfiction writer, who is an expert on Tudor England. So the book, while historical fiction, is based on fact--except for one event in Lady Elizabeth's life that is based on gossip. And it's a doozy! If it's true--and even Weir has significant doubts due to primarily circumstantial evidence--it totally changes the image of Elizabeth, widely considered one of England's greatest queens, if not THE greatest.
But what is fact is her tragic childhood, losing her mother, Anne Boleyn, when Elizabeth was just 2-1/2, her relationship with her volatile father, King Henry VIII, the declaration of her bastard status, and a horrendous adolescence/young adulthood when her sister, Queen Mary, kept her either under house arrest or locked up in the infamous Tower of London for fear her baby sister would steal the throne from her.
This is a bawdy, as well as horrific, tale of politics, religion, palace intrigue, ever-present danger (real and imagined) and sex that is captivating and compelling to read. It's a history lesson based on the personalities of the time that is well worth it!