Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Elizabeth's Women

I love Elizabeth I. She was a woman who ruled one of the largest kingdoms on earth during her day. And she did it alone. No husband, no prince consort. What she did have was a contingent of women who surrounded her: some as maids, some as confidantes, some who wanted her dead. Some of them were with her from almost birth. Others were women who were with her mother.

Most biographies of Elizabeth concentrate on the political aspects of her life and reign. How can they not? Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth grew up under circumstances that should have led to her death not her ascension to the throne of England. Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman takes a different approach to the life of Elizabeth by concentrating on her personal relationships with women.

The book is not a stuffy history. In fact it reads like fiction. The chapters are divided into groups of women starting with her mother, Anne Boleyn. There are some overlaps between the chapters but then several women remained with her throughout her life and moved between groups as Elizabeth's life progressed. What is interesting about the story line is that there is almost no political discussion about her reign at all. And I thought that was the best part of the book.

This is a well written, information biography about a fascinating historical figure and those who help shaped who she became. I highly recommend this book.

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