Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

The Virgin’s Lover

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By Philippa Gregory

Get it, or it’s off with your head!
Rating: Hmmm
March 2006

Philippa Gregory’s most popular title is “The Other Boleyn Girl,” which was followed by “The Queen’s Fool.” It became apparent pretty quickly here that this calls on the same timeline (Hannah the Fool makes the BRIEFEST of cameos). So, I am a happy reader.

Queen Elizabeth I comes to the throne in her mid 20s. She reunites with her childhood friend, Robert Dudley, a man who went to the Tower in defense of her cause. Sparks fly between them from the first… but Robert is already married, and Elizabeth is supposed to marry for the betterment of England. But beware-this is NOT your typical romance. These books don’t often end in a ‘happy’ ending.

That said, I still enjoy them. I’m a Historical Harlot that way. There’s plenty of corruption and sordid goings on here (Was she really a Virgin? Did Mary of Guise die naturally? How about Amy Dudley?) to keep anyone amused. Plus the politics.

What I wasn’t so keen on was the way some of the characters were depicted. When I think of Elizabeth, I think of a bold woman fighting for her life and being ruthless in all things. But here she begins as a somewhat catty player (her games are explained in TOBG–she has had to fight to stay alive since birth, nevermind keep the throne), and falls into Dudley’s arms looking for safety. No wonder her councillors think she’s some weak-willed woman who can’t handle her job! She keeps running to Dudley for things-! And almost doesn’t reassert herself until it’s too late.

There’s also Amy Dudley, The Wife, who necessarily had to be somewhat ineffectual. But she’s the worst sort of ditz. She refuses to learn from the present situation. She and Robert married for love nearly 10 years ago when he was just 17. She remembers all their plans to have their own little farm manor where he would raise horses. She continually ignores all the blatant evidence that Robert has grown into an ambitious man with his eye on the throne. All she ever does is alter her view slightly to return to the same point: He loves me, and can never leave me. Bah.

Then there’s Robert Dudley himself. The previous two books lulled me into the FemiPowerGo! mindset, so I wasn’t expecting him to play the huge role that he did. Note to self: Do not disregard titles. Robert is a HUGELY ambitious git, and he specifically sets out to take control… yet he falls into a love he cannot overcome.

One is left with questions–who really loves whom? Who is being sincere? I wish it had gotten to “the climax” sooner and spent more time exploring the aftermath. Ah well. Anyway, I still highly reccommend Philippa Gregory, and will be looking for the next in the series. Nyah!


Written by Shen

March 22, 2006 at 5:30 am

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