Review of ELIZABETH I by Margaret George

About the Book (from the author’s website)

New York Times best-selling Margaret George captures history’s most enthralling queen—as she confronts rivals to her throne and to her heart.

One of today’s premier historical novelists, Margaret George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma—the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel-bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England’s greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. But what was she really like?

In this novel, her flame-haired, look-alike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth’s rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth’s throne, Lettice has been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country, and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family. Their rivalry, and its ensuing drama, soon involves everyone close to Elizabeth, from the famed courtiers who enriched the crown to the legendary poets and playwrights who paid homage to it with their works. Intimate portraits of the personalities who made the Elizabethan age great—Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake—fill these pages, giving us an unforgettable glimpse of a queen who ruled as much from the heart as from the head, and considered herself married to her people.

This magnificent, stay-up-all-night page-turner is George’s finest and one that is sure to delight readers of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.

My Thoughts on the Book

I love historical stories.  Whether the novel is set in a historical time or based on actual historical events, I am willing to give it a shot.  Even if the book is long, so long as it is well-written, I will read it.  In fact, when it comes to historical novels, I have often found that longer is better.  Being able to escape the 21st Century and become fully engrossed in an earlier time is about the best vacation I can imagine.  Well, the best I can afford right now, anyway!

When Margaret George’s Elizabeth I arraived, I was excited.  It’s a long book, nearly 700 pages, and it is definitely historical.  This book is based on the life of Elizabeth I, Queen of England, with the author’s interpretation of what could have happened thrown in.  I expected an exciting read.

But I didn’t get it.  It’s not that this novel was badly written or badly researched—Ms. George’s expertise on her subject was evident from the very first page.  It just wasn’t something that I enjoyed.  The sheer number of character overwhelmed me.  I am sure each was necessary, both to the story and to life of Queen Elizabeth.  It was just difficult for me to keep them straight.  And that made it hard for me to really care about them.


About the author

Margaret George is the author of six epic biographical novels, all New York Times bestsellers, featuring larger than life characters like Henry VIII and Cleopatra.  Although painstakingly accurate historically, their real focus is the psychology of the characters.  We know what they did, we want to know why. Her latest release is Elizabeth I.

Margaret’s research has taken her from the islands of Scotland to the temples of Upper Egypt, with experiences that include snake-keeping and gladiatorial training.

She lives in Wisconsin and Washington DC.  Interests include reptile conservation efforts, Middle Eastern dance (aka bellydancing), and archeology.

You can visit Margaret George’s website at

Posted on May 17, 2011, in Authors, Books, Reviews and tagged Alison Weir, Elizabeth I of England, Elizabethan era, Lettice Knollys, Margaret George. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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  1. Cheryl Malandrinos

    Thanks for taking the time to review Margaret’s latest. I’m curious if you’ve read books about Elizabeth I in the past. If not, I could see the number of characters being intimidating. I’ve read several now, so I didn’t find it as difficult.

  2. Lynn McMonigal

    Cheryl, I’ve never read anything about Elizabeth I before. I can understand why there were so many characters, but keeping up with everyone made my head spin!

  3. Margaret George

    Lynn, thanks for reviewing my book on your website. I appreciate it.


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