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Publisher's Summary

The captivating story of four unforgettable sisters and their glamorous mother, Elizabeth Stuart, granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots 

Young Elizabeth Stuart was thrust into a life of wealth and splendor when her godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, died and her father, James I, ascended to the illustrious throne of England. At 16 she was married to a dashing German count far below her rank, with the understanding that James would help her husband achieve the crown of Bohemia. Her father's terrible betrayal of this promise would ruin "the Winter Queen", as Elizabeth would forever be known, imperil the lives of those she loved, and launch a war that would last for 30 years.

Forced into exile, the Winter Queen and her growing family found refuge in Holland, where the glorious art and culture of the Dutch Golden Age formed the backdrop to her daughters' education. The eldest, Princess Elizabeth, was renowned as a scholar when women were all but excluded from serious study and counted the preeminent philosopher René Descartes among her closest friends. Louise Hollandine, whose lively manner and appealing looks would provoke heartache and scandal, was a gifted painter. Shy, gentle Henrietta Maria, the beauty of the family, would achieve the dynastic ambition of marrying into royalty, although at great cost. But it would be the youngest, Sophia, a heroine in the tradition of Jane Austen, whose ready wit and good-natured common sense masked immense strength of character, who would fulfill the promise of her great-grandmother, a legacy that endures to this day.

Brilliantly researched and captivatingly written, Nancy Goldstone shows how these spirited, passionate women faced danger, tragic loss, and betrayal, and by refusing to surrender to adversity, changed the course of history.

©2018 Nancy Goldstone (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Goldstone (The Rival Queens) once again places a much-deserved spotlight on remarkable women from European history...A compulsively readable account of an otherwise unfamiliar royal family. Goldstone writes with knowledge, humor, and ease - a masterly storyteller who steers clear of overly academic language. Ideal for amateur Tudor historians who wish to be introduced to a lesser-known yet equally fascinating royal family." (Library Journal)

"Though the narrative could have devolved into a complicated mass of intertwined royal families, Goldstone, a seasoned historian, effectively keeps the lines clear as she relates Elizabeth's repeated, frustrated attempts to secure strong marriages for her children under trying circumstances. Her children's stories are fascinating, as well...A great book for history fans seeking illumination on the connections of European royalty." (Kirkus

"This rich and complex story of a 17th-century queen who lost her throne, and her four defiant daughters, is compulsively [listenable]. Combining rigorous research with a vivid writing style, Nancy Goldstone illuminates the women who have often been left in the shadows of history, and reminds us that fascination with royalty is nothing new." (Charlotte Gray, author of Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention and Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Misnamed but Wonderful

The book is seriously misnamed, the book tells the story of the Winter Queen and her family. It does not primarily focus on the daughters until the very end of the book. That said, it is a great and fascinating overview of a tumultuous time in European history. It is a look at the Winter Queen's perspective and actions, and that of her family, through various pivotal historical moments. Not overly dramatic and the speaker does a good job. Saw another comment about how bad the reader was, but they must have been referring to another version because this one was great.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Cariola
  • Chambersburg, PA USA
  • 06-07-18

Mary Queen of Scots' Prevailing Influence

Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I (and therefore granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots) was married to a lesser noble, Frederick, Elector of Palatine, with the promise that her father would support his efforts to win the crown of Bohemia. James--not exactly know for being fair and honest when it wasn't expedient--backed out of the promise, an act that sent Elizabeth and her family into exile and ultimately led to the devastating Thirty Years War. Despite the loss of his crown and the years of political turmoil, Elizabeth and Frederick got along well; in fact, they produced 13 children, eight sons (two died young) and five daughters (one died at age three). Goldstone's book focuses on the couple's three surviving daughters, the youngest of which, Sophia, ended up named heiress presumptive to the British throne and launches the Hanoverian dynasty, thus fulfilling her grandmother's legacy. The eldest, Elizabeth, was known for her scholarship in languages, mathematics, history, geography, and the arts. She corresponded with and even challenged Rene Descartes, and later, as a Protestant Abbess, befriended William Penn. Both men dedicated books to her. Her sister Louise Hollandine was a talented portrait painter. She shocked her staunchly Calvinist family by fleeing to France and converting to Catholicism at the age of 39; she later took holy orders and also became an abbess. Henriette Marie married a brother of the Prince of Transylvania; sadly, she died of unknown causes at the age of 25, and her husband died only a few months later. Sophia wed the Elector or Hanover. When it appeared that neither William III, now widowed, nor the future queen Anne would produce heirs, Parliament enacted the Settlement of 1701, which required any ruler to be Protestant, making Sophia the heiress presumptive. It was her son Charles Louis who later took the throne of Great Britain as George I.

Goldstone provides many details of life at court and in exile, of the daughters' education and quests for suitable spouses, and of the upheaval caused by the religious wars. Her research is meticulous and exhaustive. Overall, an intriguing look into the lives of four 17th-century royal women who struggles to survive and to find themselves.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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History, not story

This is a narration of history, not a story. There's no personality infused into the characters. The people don't come alive. It's very dry. I like histories so it was ok.

However, the reader is terrible. She mispronounces many words. The pauses after every 3-4 words just sets my teeth on edge. It's hard to follow the narrative because she pauses in the middle of phrases. It's too frustrating to listen to for very long at a sitting.

I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone but a true history buff who enjoys facts of history.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The narrator not good

The reader does not do justice to this material. Actually, she's driving me mad. She pauses in the middle of a sentence as if there is a period. Then restarts. Butchers common names. Bad choice. Sorry, hate to give bad reviews. Gave 4 stars because the authors work is pretty solid.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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wow, wow, WOW! historical overload well done!

so much information given in an understandable way the author made it cohesive and easy to follow also keeping the reader's interest the entire time

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Great Book - Narration: Meh

The author did a tremendously great job of combining the various family and historical events and maintain our attention. The narrators mispronunciations of words and names such as Liselotte drove me crazy. But maybe I’ve just gotten used to it being pronounced differently in other narrations such as Love and Louis XIV by Antonia Fraser. Anyway...great book. I’m sure I’ll listen to it again since I’ve purchased it.

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Meh

Book covers the history thoroughly and may have been better if I could have endured listening to it any longer. Just started chapter or section two, not sure which because all she said was two, and we just started hearing about Mary’s childhood. Skip wasting your money and or credit on this one.

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Full of Information

If you enjoy history with other historical figures included, you will enjoy this book. I found it very enjoyable and well written. I will look for other titles from the same author.