Thursday, August 14, 2008

Five Minutes With Maggie...The Virgin's Lover

The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory

I must admit: I'm the only person I know who hasn't read The Other Boleyn Girl yet, and I haven't seen the movie either! Historical novels are never at the top of my reading list, but I picked up The Virgin's Lover, with no prior experience reading Philippa Gregory. Set in England, beginning in 1588, the novel opens at the dawn of Queen Elizabeth rising to the throne. The story opens with Amy, a young woman whose husband Robert has rushed to serve the newly anointed queen. Amy is confident in her marriage and the love they shared, and though her husband is ambitious, she trusts that Robert will always be faithful. Elizabeth, meanwhile, is struggling to own her power. She's afraid of making decisions and afraid of the impending war with France. She relies on Robert, her childhood friend, to guide her every step of the way. But Robert's ambition threatens not only his own marriage but also the queen's rule. As the queen entrusts Robert to be her friend and her ally, Robert sees this as his opportunity to fulfill his family's legacy. He tries to connive his way onto the throne, while Amy waits in the English countryside for her determined husband.

Gregory unravels the mystery of the relationship between Robert Dudley and Queen Elizabeth. Her writing instantly transports you back to England in the mid-1500s. She captures the elegance of court life and paints a vivid picture of the English farmland. Her writing is captivating, and though the book is a lengthy 438 pages, it's difficult to put it down once you get started!---Maggie Marton

I think this one is a must read, especially if you've seen the movie with Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth. It was because of Robert Dudley that she swore off men forever. (ed.note)

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