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I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles

I, Elizabeth (1994)

by Rosalind Miles

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Elizabeth I, the last of the Tudor line, a bastard born of the "Great Whore" Anne Boleyn, was known as the Virgin Queen. She never married, but ruled on her own for 40 years. This novel delves into her reign from the day of her accession, with all of the politics, rumors, plots, and passion in her life. She had to rebuff suitors so as not to create war, had to protect her throne from would be heirs such as Mary Queen of Scots, and had to rule firmly but fairly so she could avoid uprising and rebellion in her own country. And she did all that without a king by her side. I love this time period and the Tudor Court; such an intriguing time. This book gave me a look at Elizabeth and much of what went on during her reign; all I knew before was that she was the Virgin Queen. Now I have more understanding of her as not only a queen, but a woman trying to make her way without a man to rule her life. One of the early feminists, I would say, though obviously that was not a goal of hers. She saw what happened to other women around her who married, and she did not want to suffer the same fate. And she managed to bring her country to prosperity. Proof that women can rule, if you ask me. ( )
  litgirl29 | Jul 19, 2014 |
I didn't like it at all and couldn't finish it. Made to page 225 ( )
  Elysianfield | Mar 30, 2013 |
”The silence in the chamber grew until it echoed like thunder in the booklined space. In the tight circle of grave old faces, not a one flickered. At last the oldest and the gravest there laid down the document, shook his head, and spoke. 'You have her, madam - there can be no doubt.' I turned my head. Behind the ranks of gray-wigged, black-robed figures, beyond the little window of the Temple, fresh white clouds scudding like rabbits' bobtails chased each other across a shining sky. On such a day of any other summer, Robin and I would have been ahorse, afield, chasing and racing too. But he was far away, and here I sat, a prisoner like Mary, who at last had brought me here.”

Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, lived through and ruled over one of the most interesting periods in England’s history. She lent her name to the era, the Elizabethan period and lived to see her country’s religion turned on its head for lust of her mother, the death of her father, his other four wives and her two siblings as well as birth of the English Renaissance and the Spanish Armada defeated. She had to defend herself not only from threats abroad from the Church of Rome and other foreign powers but from her own subjects and council who wished she were Catholic or a man or that she would marry and produce a male heir.

I’ve always been a fan of this period in history. It was the time of Shakespeare and global exploration. The monarch was almost absolute and the Tudor family are the closest you can get to a Renaissance soap opera. In fact, Elizabeth only exists due to a random set of circumstances where Prince Arthur died and his brother Henry married his widow Katherine of Aragon, became Henry VIII and turned out to be totally cuckoo-bananas. That’s why I was excited to see that this is a book written in the voice of Elizabeth. Of course, we can’t truly know what she thought about many things but Miles incorporates words from speeches and letters to inform us of her opinion about people and events, lending authenticity to the voice and diction of the story.

I enjoyed reading about her life from under her father to after the Spanish Armada. This long stretch of time allows readers to see her opinions as a person and monarch evolve over time, how she was always on guard against dangers to her person. Readers continuously see how her father, even long after his death influences her life and how political intrigue shaped her actions as queen.

The POV is interesting because the author writes as Elizabeth writing the story of her life and covers the various stages of her existence. My main problem with this POV is that Miles has Elizabeth interrupt her own story with input from the present. Her reflections are not only spoilery but they disrupt the flow of the book. As a reader familiar with Elizabeth’s story it wasn’t as bothersome as it could have been but what if I knew nothing about her? Foreshadowing can create suspense but the way it’s done here it undercuts the tension. I don’t want commentary from present Elizabeth commenting on past Elizabeth’s decisions and feelings about Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex. It makes their relationship less interesting when I have an idea of what happens in the end. If anything I think the story might have been more effective to keep the POV as Elizabeth but keep it in present tense. Let the reader and Elizabeth experience events at the same time to create suspense and conflict. Let everything be a surprise, whether it be a delight or a terror.

If you're a fan of books about the Tudors and Elizabeth I I would recommend this book. ( )
  theduckthief | Apr 9, 2012 |
I am not a fan of this book. It shows Queen Elizabeth to be a selfish, spoiled, sensual mess. She is constantly in LOVE with someone and her entire life hinges on the constant turning to and fro and the subsequent turmoil of her emotions. Too base to be believed. I hated to see her even written in this way. How was she any better than her father, her mother, her sister or even the dreaded Queen of Scots who she complained was the worst of creatures.

A sad diatribe at best. There appears to be no sense of time in the story. For certain time goes by, but there appears to be no pacing as if the clock ticking away is news to the queen. She always seems amazed that time has marched forward, dragging her along with it.

I would rename this book the Many Secret Loves of the Queen Elizabeth as no woman worth her salt, and certainly never a queen, would ever admit this type of constant longing and desiring for available, unavailable, young, old or just breathing men all the days of her life. Sad. ( )
  DivineMissW | Apr 6, 2011 |
I loved this book. The way it takes you through Elizabeth’s life as she saw it is amazing and this is one of my favourite books. You really do get close to Elizabeth in this book, seeing her as a girl and then a woman rather then just a queen. while reading i felt sorry for elizabeth, was happy for her, envied her, was scared for her, cried a little for her, laughed at her, felt like i was laughing with her and at times wanted to slap some sense into her head. And that is what for me made it such a gripping book. I was going to say you watch her grow up and old in this book, but it almost feels like you grow up and grow old with her. it is a bit of a long book i suppose and i did take a break in it to read something a little different but that is the beauty of this novel- with the different sections of the book (e.g. bastard, virgin, queen) all of which are different stages in her life, you can stop if you have had enough for a bit and then pick up where you left off just like if you were reading a carry-on book to a previous one you have read. I think it is very clever how Rosalind Miles has made "I, Elizabeth" like a cluster of books in one. There really is a lot of things happening in this book, not all at once but throughout the book, and as Elizabeth’s life changes so does the events surrounding her. It has a lot of romance, betrayal, sorrow and joy in this and you can see how Elizabeth’s character was formed. A brilliant book. I would recommend it to anyone. ( )
  steffikaysince1996 | Aug 4, 2010 |
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PROLOGUE: The Palace of Whitehall February 24, 1601, Midnight: He will make a good death, they say.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0609809105, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:55 -0400)

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Elizabeth writes a diary near the end of her life in which she records court intrigues and the burdens of political power.

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