Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir

There is a strong idea in the world that a woman cannot live unless she is married

Why I read this book

I read The Lady Elizabeth by the same author and I really liked her writing style. Elizabeth I has always been am interesting character to me and having the opportunity to learn a bit more about her by an author that I already like was something I wouldn't pass.

What the book is about

Obviously the book is about the life of Elizabeth I as a Queen. While the Lady Elizabeth walks us through the childhood and teenage years of Elizabeth, prior to her coronation, this book explores the year that Elizabeth was on the throne. Divided in sections that tackle her international politics, economy and her court in general, this book is a good example of a well researched biography.

First impressions

Alison Weir is amazingly thorough; I knew I liked the romanticized character of Elizabeth, but the Elizabeth portrayed in this book is just unbelievably interesting. From her dealing with the detractors of her father's formed religion to her manipulation of other courts to her advantage, Elizabeth was a woman of vision, not afraid to take the reins of her kingdom.

Final thoughts

Elizabeth was praised and criticized largely during her kingdom. In both cases her gender was always a factor to be considered by her allies and enemies. As a young woman she was congratulated on her exceptional memory and curiosity and she would have her father to thank for insisting in her being educated as a prince, for this had a considerable impact in her behavior as a ruler. She spoke more than 5 languages and managed to deal with conspiracies against her life from even before she was considered an heir to the throne and all of this shaped the diplomat that most of us know.

She was smart (most of the time) when choosing the people around her, and through this close group of people managed to bring prosperity to her land and to establish what we now refer to as the Elizabethan era, an epoch rich in culture that not in vane is considered the Golden age.

But the book doesn't show a perfect Elizabeth, and this made me like the content even more. While the Virgin Queen is praised often in the book, there is also discussion of some traits in her character that take the figure of the queen from this idealized image to a more humane person, flawed and with weaknesses; a person that overcame such weaknesses in order to fulfill what she considered her destiny.

It is the first book I hear in the voice if Davina Porter, and I have to say I did enjoy her performance. Her pace was appropriate to a non-fiction book where so much information was given, and her inflections when encountering quotes from Elizabeth or other characters made a nice flow in the book.

A person who did not wish to treat their mother well, deserves a wicked step mother

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