My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I actually finished this book on 9 July 2018. I’m a little behind with my reviews.
Philippa Gregory is one of my favourite authors. I always enjoy her books. This is about the seventh one I’ve read. I know they are based on history, but how much so I don’t really know. I read each book and take it for what it is. A story.
The Blurb: 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 pull her husband back to the very center of the glamorous Tudor court, where he was born to be. Amy had hoped that the merciless ambitions of the Dudley family had died on Tower Green when Robert’s father was beheaded and his sons shamed; but the peal of bells she hears is his summons once more to power, intrigue, and a passionate love affair with the young queen. Can Amy’s steadfast faith in him, her constant love, and the home she wants to make for them in the heart of the English countryside compete with the allure of the new queen? Elizabeth’s excited triumph is short-lived. She has inherited a bankrupt country, riven by enmity, where treason is normal and foreign war a certainty. Her faithful advisor 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 irresistible, ambitious Robert Dudley. Robert revels in the opportunities of the new reign. The son of an aristocratic family brought up in palaces as the equal of his royal playmates, Robert knows he can reclaim his destiny at Elizabeth’s side. Elizabeth cannot resist his courtship, and as the young couple slowly falls in love, Robert starts to think the impossible: can he set aside his wife and marry the young queen? Philippa Gregory’s The Virgin’s Lover answers the question about an unsolved crime that has fascinated detectives and historians for centuries. Philippa Gregory uses documents and evidence from the Tudor era and, with almost magical insight into the desires of Robert Dudley and his lovers, paints a picture of a country on the brink of greatness, a young woman grasping at her power, a young man whose ambition is greater than his means, and the wife who cannot forgive them.
My review: Actually, the blurb tells just about all of it. Longest blurb I’ve ever seen. Anyway, if this is an indication of history, then they were a nasty lot back then. Power hungry. Mean. Self centered. I don’t think it’s like that today, but then again, maybe I lead a sheltered life.
Robert Dudley turns his back on his wife, because he sees fame and fortune if he can hook up with the Queen. He uses the fact that they were childhood friends to worm his way in. I didn’t read “love” in this story anywhere. He was motivated by self interest.
The Queen isn’t sure what to do. Does she love him? I don’t think so. She never truly trusts him. How could she? Many reviewers state she was unable to make a decision, but she made a clear decision. She knew what she was doing. She knew the end result.
And Amy Dudley? She loved her husband, but she didn’t fight for him. She let him plot and scheme and was thrown away like a bit of old rag. But she didn’t deserve the treatment she received.
Without giving away the ending, I believe the ending was right for Dudley and the Queen.
Regardless if the historic facts are right or not, I enjoyed the storyline. The characters were not likable, but that seems right for the rotten roles they played. But the writing of such characters was done well, in my opinion.
This wasn’t the best of Gregory’s books, but it was still a well written book that tells a good, if twisted, story.