Review: Elizabeth’s Women

Well, I know I said I would read a book a week and blog about it. And I know that was several weeks ago. But life is just not that orderly. Also, I know this is not an Indie book but I still like to buy and read traditionally published books. Yes, this is a paperback!

‘Elizabeth’s Women’ by Tracy Borman is just superb. A beautifully written, richly detailed tapestry of life in the 1500’s, full of intrigue, surprises and secrets. I had already read a considerable amount of material regarding Elizabeth I as she is my favourite historical character, and so I thought I knew her pretty well. Ms Borman however, simply blew me away. Elizabeth for all her intelligence, erudition and shrewdness could be petty and cruel to her ladies-in-waiting, loved bear-baiting (shudder) and was intensely jealous.

As much as this is the story of her ladies and their loyalty to her, it is also a story of betrayal and treachery. And this latter aspect offered valuable insight to the mind of this glorious Queen – and how insecure, tense and exhausting her life must have been. In short, she could hardly trust anyone. Great favourites would deceive her, her own ladies played dangerous romantic games behind her back, putting the Queen into a fury and themselves into the Tower, and blood relations plotted against her. Her guilt and depression particularly with regard to the death of Mary, Queen of Scots, was profound and the effects never left her. Towards the end of her life, she clearly tired of it all and, it would seem, made determined effort to end her own life by refusing to eat. She so weakened herself that when infection struck, she had no defense.

Meticulously researched and brilliantly executed, the story behind the glittering facade of ‘Gloriana’ reads like a detective novel. Factual, well-paced and engrossing, full of twists and turns. To use an old cliche: I could not put it down.


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