I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles

I, Elizabeth: A Novel

Title: I, Elizabeth
Author: Rosalind Miles
Published: March 2003
Pages: 656
ISBN: 9780609809105
Source: Personal Copy

Description: Publicly declared a bastard at the age of three, daughter of a disgraced and executed mother, last in the line of succession to the throne of England, Elizabeth I inherited an England ravaged by bloody religious conflict, at war with Spain and France, and badly in debt. When she died in 1603, after a forty-five- year reign, her empire spanned two continents and was united under one church, victorious in war, and blessed with an overflowing treasury. What’s more, her favorites—William Shakespeare, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir Walter Raleigh—had made the Elizabethan era a cultural Golden Age still remembered today.
But for Elizabeth the woman, tragedy went hand in hand with triumph. Politics and scandal forced the passionate queen to reject her true love, Robert Dudley, and to execute his stepson, her much-adored Lord Essex. Now in this spellbinding novel, Rosalind Miles brings to life the woman behind the myth. By turns imperious, brilliant, calculating, vain, and witty, this is the Elizabeth the world never knew. From the days of her brutal father, Henry VIII, to her final dying moments, Elizabeth tells her story in her own words.

I Give This Book 3.5 Stars!

 I picked this book up because Queen Elizabeth I fascinates me.  I’ve read many different historical fictions about her.  I really liked the first part of the book.  Most things I’ve read start were her half-sister Queen Mary has her in the Tower of London.  So, I haven’t read much concerning her childhood and when her father was still alive (at least were she was the focus of the story anyway).   I felt that reading about that time period helped me better understand some of her actions as an adult.  I also liked reading about her relationship with her half-brother, Edward.  But, sadly the later part of the story started to really drag down.  I found myself skimming parts.  But, I don’t blame it on the book really.  As stated above, I’ve read a lot about her.  This book really just did not have anything new to add.  It focused on the facts and more on Elizabeth the Queen, not Elizabeth the person.    So, if you haven’t already read some historical fiction about Queen Elizabeth, you might like this one.   But, if you already have a lot of information concerning Queen Elizabeth I, you might want to find something else.

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 7:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

Title: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette
Author: Carolly Erickson
Published: August 2006
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780312361501
Source: personal copy

Description: Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life—from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution.   Carolly Erickson takes the reader deep into the psyche of France’s doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her; her fears on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing attempted flight from France in disguise; her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined and her young son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again.  Erickson brilliantly captures the queen’s voice, her hopes, her dreads, and her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life—from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.

I Give This Book 3 Stars!

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about Marie Antoinette.   And, what I do know probably comes from the movies.  She usually isn’t portrayed very kindly there.  I had built this image of a young women who liked parties, clothes, and basic extravagance.  This book took an extreme opposite view.  It touched on the rumors surrounding the Queen, but I never got a good feel for how the Queen felt about this.  The book seems to down play all of that, when in fact that malicious gossip eventually made the people of France hate her.  She had to have realized that but she seems really detached from her people and her country.  I’m sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  Although, I’m sure we will never know the whole truth surrounding all the gossip. 

I did really enjoy the format of the book.  The diary entries made it seem like more of a possibility that this was who the Queen really was.  I learned a few things I did not know.  Plus, it made me want to read more historical fiction about Marie Antoinette.  Some seem to complain about some characters being made up, but I able to take that in because I know it is historical fiction.  I know that not everything is fact.  Overall, and interesting read, but I feel it’s steeped more in fiction than in fact. 

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

The Heretic Queen

Title: The Heretic Queen
Author: Michelle Moran
Published: September 2008
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780307381767
Source: Library

Description: In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history. 
The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.  Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

I Give This Book 4 Stars!

I’ve always loved the history of ancient civilizations.  But, history class is just facts.  It does not make you feel like you are there.  It does not give you a taste of what life might have been like.   Michelle Moran does.  I can not imagine the research that goes into her work.  The minute you open the cover of one of her novels, you are there.  I love the settings, the characters, and the story itself.  I like how she takes what is known and weaves into her story, so in the end you are not sure if the book was fact or fiction.  I also enjoyed that in both books I’ve read, she has included biblical references.  And, I’ve completely missed them until I’ve read the author notes in the back.  Michelle Moran leaves me talking about her books long after I’ve read them!

The Queen’s Mistake: In the Court of Henry VIII by Diane Haeger

The Queen's Mistake: In the Court of Henry VIII

Title: The Queen’s Mistake
Author: Diane Haeger
Published: October 2009 by NAL Trage
Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780451228000
Source: Library Book

Description: When the young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of the fifty-year-old King Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her undoing. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart’s desire in favor of her family’s ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who sought to bring her down a most effective weapon-her own romantic past.
The Queen’s Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigue of the court and the yearnings of her heart.

I Give This Book 4 Stars!

I confess I don’t much about Henry VIII’s last 3 wives.   I kind of became disgusted with the man after the first 3.  But, they each have their own story to tell.  This book made me feel for Catherine Howard immensely.  She was a pawn from the start.  Her family raised her to be naive but knowledgeable about sexual games with men.  But, they never taught her the ways of the royal court, nor did she known what it meant to be the King’s Queen.  And especially what it meant to belong to King Henry VIII.  She was denied what she truly wanted and her family feed her to the wolves for the own gain.  The story was slow at first, but quickly built to what you know is coming.  The story left me with the same opinion I’ve  long had of Henry VIII.  Catherine was left the victim, although if she truly was faithful while married to the King, only a few really know.

Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 7:00 am  Comments (3)  
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Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

Cleopatra's Daughter

Title: Cleopatra’s Daughter
Author: Michelle Moran
Published: September 2009 by Crown Publishing Group
Pages: 431
ISBN: 9780307409126
Source: Library

Description: The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

I Give This Book 4 Stars!

I have to admit, I didn’t have a lot of background information going into this story.  Of course I knew who Cleopatra and Marc Anthony wear, but that’s about it.  I was immediately pulled into this story.  It’s told through Selene’s point of view (whose age is 12 through 15 in this story), so it’s almost young adult.  But, Selene’s thoughts and ambitions are entirely those of a women torn from her family and the country she loves.  It is powerful to watch her refuse to give up what she knows and bend to the rules of a country keeping her captive.  Michelle Moran has a gift for capturing into words the world Selena lived in.  The ending was bittersweet.  I would love to see a sequel following the rest of her life.

Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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