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Elizabeth I of England is an icon among icons. Her public image of “Good Queen Bess” has long since survived her, elevating her to almost immortal status. Numerous books are sold about her, her legend, and her life. We know the English court was her universe, and “Gloriana” was its Sun.
But what of the planets of the court? The men who served as her ministers, advisers, and friends? They orbited around her, hoping for as much time in her rays as possible. Those men are the focus of the book, “Elizabeth – The Virgin Queen And The Men Who Loved Her” by author Robert Stephen Parry. Mr. Parry is the writer of other historical novels, such as, “The Arrow Chest” and “Wildish”. I read “The Arrow Chest” a couple years ago, so I jumped at the chance to read his takes on Elizabeth I, one of my all-time favorite historical figures.
The book has an interesting structure. It’s set up as a series of short lectures on the various personalities the dominated the Elizabethan court. Each section starts with a short bio on the men being presented, who include, Henry VIII, Thomas Seymour, Robert Dudley, John Dee, the Duke of Alencon, William Cecil, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Hatton, and Robert Devereux. As I stated, each section starts with a short biography of the figure, with the basics of who they were, and how they were an integral part of the solar system of Her Majesty’s universe. The non-fiction section is then followed by a short fictional story, relating to the man being profiled. The stories vary between private, emotional moments with a young Elizabeth, to facing the full rage of the Tudor temper, and how that might have played out.
I don’t read much fiction these days, but I couldn’t be happier that I read this book. I have read considerable amounts on Elizabeth, so the majority of the information was not new to me, as it won’t be for many people interested in this period. But the fictional short stories were a great addition, and Mr. Parry has the ability to describe the events in such a way, that you’re immediately engrossed and emotionally invested in the story. If you’re new to the Elizabethan period, this book can be a great starting point, for learning more about court life, and the central courtiers who surrounded the legendary Queen. I think that if you’re a seasoned Tudor fanatic, you’ll still enjoy the easiness with which the book flows, and the different perspectives that the author brings to life. I’m currently just starting another book of Mr. Parry’s on Elizabethan life, and I’m bursting with excitement!
You can read more about the author and his work at http://www.robertstephenparry.com
All his books are for sale in Kindle and paperback on both Amazon US and UK.