|Random House UK
June 26 2014
The mystery which surrounds the relationship between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley is the focus for this deadly marriage game, which entices the reader into the very heart and soul of the Elizabethan court. With Elizabeth’s capricious behaviour at the centre of the intrigue there is much speculation as to whether the couple were actually lovers in the physical sense, but what is obvious is that there was a deep and abiding affection between them, which lasted throughout the whole of their lives, and which survived all the speculation and gossip.
What Alison Weir has done in this fictional account of the relationship between the young Queen and her courtier is to add weight to the argument that other forces were behind the reluctance of a match between them. William Cecil, Elizabeth’s chief advisor, not only insisted that Elizabeth could only be a successful queen if she had a husband by her side, but was also shown to be instrumental in keeping Dudley and Elizabeth apart. As with all speculative fiction surrounding Elizabeth’s relationship with Dudley scurrilous accusations abound, and the fact that Elizabeth continued to keep her politically correct marriage suitors at bay, only added weight to the scandal that Dudley was more than just her master of horse.
As always, Alison Weir brings the scandal of the age alive with her usual skill and fine attention to detail. The story flows well, like a well ordered romantic novel, with more than a hint of intrigue, and even though there are no astonishing revelations, what still shines through the political shenanigans is a remarkable love story, which is made all the more intriguing by the fact that we will never truly know what happened between them. And if I’m honest I rather enjoy the speculative aspect of their relationship rather more than the knowing, and feel that after all this time they are entitled to keep some of their more intimate secrets to themselves.
Well worth a read if you like Elizabethan history but don’t look for any extraordinary revelations, just enjoy the love story.
My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for my e-copy of this book.