The Lady Elizabeth
Even at age two, Elizabeth is keenly aware that people in the court of her father, King Henry VIII, have stopped referring to her as “Lady Princess” and now call her “the Lady Elizabeth.” Before she is three, she learns of the tragic fate that has befallen her mother, the enigmatic and seductive Anne Boleyn, and that she herself has been declared illegitimate, an injustice that will haunt her.
What comes next is a succession of stepmothers, bringing with them glimpses of love, fleeting security, tempestuous conflict, and tragedy. The death of her father puts the teenage Elizabeth in greater peril, leaving her at the mercy of ambitious and unscrupulous men. Like her mother two decades earlier she is imprisoned in the Tower of London–and fears she will also meet her mother’s grisly end. Power-driven politics, private scandal and public gossip, a disputed succession, and the grievous example of her sister, “Bloody” Queen Mary, all cement Elizabeth’s resolve in matters of statecraft and love, and set the stage for her transformation into the iconic Virgin Queen.
Alison Weir uses her deft talents as historian and novelist to exquisitely and suspensefully play out the conflicts between family, politics, religion, and conscience that came to define an age. Sweeping in scope, The Lady Elizabeth is a fascinating portrayal of a woman far ahead of her time–an orphaned girl haunted by the shadow of the axe, an independent spirit who must use her cunning and wits for her very survival, and a future queen whose dangerous and dramatic path to the throne shapes her future greatness.
From the Hardcover edition.
READ AN EXCERPT
On a hot, still morning in July, the Lady Mary, daughter to King Henry the Eighth, arrived at the great country palace of Hatfield, trotting into the courtyard on a white palfrey followed by four gentlemen, two ladies-in-waiting, and a female fool.
As soon as she had dismounted, she...
1. Alison Weir talks about balancing the duties of novelist and historian. What kind of obligation do you think a historical novelist has to the facts of history? Should a writer let facts stand in the way of telling a good story? Are there parts of The Lady Elizabeth where you felt that Weir erred on one side or...
“Engrossing . . . suspenseful . . . enormously entertaining.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“Splendid . . . In giving narrative voice to her subjects Alison Weir brings us into emotional contact with them in a way that an unadorned historical account does not.”
–Boston Sunday Globe
“Every bit as good as anything [Philippa] Gregory has ever done . . . [Weir] makes a familiar story vibrant and fresh.”
–The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Completely absorbing . . . a brilliantly vivid and psychologically astute novel.”
–Booklist (starred review)
“Poignant and harrowing . . . a gripping finale.”
–The Seattle Times
“A sensitive and fast-paced tale . . . Weir conveys the age’s political intrigues, religious fanaticism and sexism.”
“Characters breathe as though they were alive last week–not five centuries ago. . . . A chilling epitaph on a period of history that continues to fascinate and bewitch us today.”
–San Antonio Express-News
From the Hardcover edition.