In the autumn of 1558, church bells across England ring out the joyous news that Elizabeth I is the new queen. One woman hears the tidings with utter dread. She is Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, and she knows that Elizabeth’s ambitious leap to the throne will draw her husband back to the center of the glamorous Tudor court, where he was born to be.
Elizabeth’s excited triumph is short-lived. She has inherited a bankrupt country where treason is rampant and foreign war a certainty. Her faithful adviser William Cecil warns her that she will survive only if she marries a strong prince to govern the rebellious country, but the one man Elizabeth desires is her childhood friend, the ambitious Robert Dudley. As the young couple falls in love, a question hands in the air: can he really set aside his wife and marry the queen? When Amy is found dead, Elizabeth and Dudley are suddenly plunged into a struggle for survival.
Philippa Gregory is unable to reach the success of The Other Boleyn Girl with The Virgin’s Lover. While I still enjoyed the The Virgin’s Lover I was far from impressed because I know what Gregory is capable of producing.
The writing was still beautiful, as always, but the story line, though taken from history and elaborated upon, was lacking. This time the story was not told from one person’s perspective, but several. I think it gave the story less dimension because you found yourself unable to figure out who you wanted to root for and she usually has such engaging, sympathetic characters that you get attached to them almost immediately like Mary Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl.
The ending was a bit sudden, so much that I thought I had at least twenty more pages to go and next thing I know I’m reading that author’s note. And I’m still scratching my head over the ending.
The body of the novel was good. A little jumpy in the beginning but it begins to smooth itself out.
I loved seeing a different side of Elizabeth. We are usually presented with her as a tough-as-nails queen, unwavering and unyielding. Here she is shown as an outcast at first, ruthless in her rise to power, blinded by love/lust, and manipulative as she grows into her place as a queen.
- Gregory, Philippa. The Virgin’s Lover. New York: Touchstone, 2005. Originally published 2004. Print. 464 pgs. ISBN: 0743269268. Source: Purchased.