The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
This, my second Weir novel, covered similar ground to Innocent Traitor I read some time ago. Indeed both Lady Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey appear in both novels but with the focus reversed. Weir draws a very enticing picture of Elizabeth – arguably our greatest monarch – as a very bright, very astute and sometimes very lucky young woman. Of course setting up the novel as a ‘fight for survival’ has an inevitable problem – we know she survives to become queen (I’m really not giving anything away here). But the far more interesting part is exactly how she survives the intrigue going on all around her. If the fictionalisation of her early years – until she is crowned at age 25 – is as close to the truth as the author maintains (though admittedly with fictional additions, conflations and speculations) then it is a wonder that she made it that far. What a different world that would have been. Arguably without Elizabeth England may have become just another part of the growing Spanish Empire rather than the author of its downfall and after that…. Who knows!