This book was a personal purchase.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Accused of conspiring with rebels to steal the throne, Princess Elizabeth is relegated to the Tower of London by her half-sister, Queen Mary. There she finds solace in the arms of a fellow prisoner–her childhood friend, Robert Dudley. Certain their days are numbered, their bond deepens. But they are spared the axe and Elizabeth soon wins the crown, while Robert returns to his wife and the unhappy union he believes cheated him of his destiny to be king. . .
As a daughter of Henry VIII and the ill-fated Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth knows firsthand the cruelty marriage belies and roundly rejects the many suitors eager to wed the “Virgin Queen”–with the exception of the power-hungry Robert. But her association with him will carry a risk that could shake the very foundations of the House of Tudor. . .”
The story of Amy Robsart Dudley’s short life and untimely death remains one of the biggest mysteries of Tudor England. No one knows if she committed suicide, had a terrible accident, or fell victim to foul play. But her death rocked the political climate of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, because Amy’s husband was Sir Robert Dudley, rumored paramour of the Virgin Queen. In this novel, Purdy sets out to explore the relationships between these three historical figures, but unfortunately, the result is lackluster.
For one thing, the text contains way too much description. For example, at the wedding banquet for Guildford Dudley and Jane Grey, there is a massive salad. The author feels it worth her while to list every ingredient in this salad, and it takes more than a page to do so. Every dress worn by the two female main characters is described in painstaking detail, down to the embroidery patterns. I found myself skimming sections like these, because they seemed like filler.
For another thing, the author is really repetitive. There are phrases that get repeated multiple times through the novel, so it kept feeling like I was reading the same scene over and over. Did you know that the Dudley emblem is a bear and a ragged staff? You will by the time you finish this book.
Then there’s the author’s tendency towards florid writing. It’s not really purple prose, but instead there are tons of italicized words and a forest of exclamation marks. This is used mostly for Amy’s sections of the book, and it’s so prevalent that it contributes to Amy coming across as immature, brainless and hysterical. The other characters don’t escape this, but not a page goes by without Amy’s dialogue or inner thoughts reading like the equivalent of a drama queen’s acting out.
I really feel bad about this book, because the historical story is extremely interesting, and this novel could have explored the politics of the time and place of women in society. Instead, it reads like a cheap romance, and there was nothing simple or easy about this situation at the time it was happening. I love historical fiction based in Tudor England, but this is one you can safely bypass.