Friday, May 15, 2009

The Virgin's Lover - Philippa Gregory

Summary: Sumptuous historical novel from bestselling author of THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL and THE QUEEN'S FOOL. Elizabeth I has acceded to the throne of England, a position she has waited and schemed for all her life. She is surrounded by advisers, all convinced that a young woman cannot form political judgements. Elizabeth feels that she can rely on just one man: her oldest friend, Robert Dudley. It is soon plain that he is more than merely a friend. In a house in the countryside waits a very different woman, Amy Robsart - Robert's wife. She has no taste for life at court and longs for the day when her husband will return home. She has loved him since she was a girl, but now they are adults she hardly sees him. Meanwhile, the pressure grows for Elizabeth to marry, for it is unthinkable that a queen should rule on her own. Elizabeth's preference is clear, but he is unavailable. But what if the unthinkable were to happen! Philippa Gregory blends passion, personalities and politics in this stunning novel of the Tudor court and a country divided. (photo and summary courtesy of Amazon UK)

My Review: Queen Mary is dead. The protestant Princess Elizabeth assumes the throne, but not without opposition. Scotland is threatened by Mary of Guise, regent to Mary-Queen of Scots. While England faces defeat and Elizabeth faces the possibility of losing her throne, months after she has gained it, a passionate love affair blossoms. His name is Robert Dudley. Dark, handsome, said to be an excellent lover, and childhood friend of Elizabeth. Son of a traitor, he comes in to the Queen's favor under scrutinizing eyes. While Elizabeth chooses to press forward in their courting, a mirage of treasonous plots unfold around the lustful couple.

I have so much to say about this book. I scarcely know where to begin.

First things first: Historically this book is accurate. Embellishments have been made , of course, and we do not know what the "true" story of the Tudors really is. What Ms. Gregory has done is taken a phenomenal compilation of facts and theories from numerous different sources(which she lists at the end of all her novels), and woven them into intense, streamlined storytelling. Superb.

Second: The passion that rises out of these characters is relentless.Their dialogue is witty, yet sensual; erotic, yet innocent and playful. I am including this paragraph in my review for the fact that it really gives you a true "taste" of the intensity of Gregory's writing:

Robert shrugged, smiling. "Of course not," he said. He turned to Elizabeth."But how could one choose a man from canvas and paint? You would never choose a horse like that."
"Yes; but an Archduke is not a horse."
"Well, I would want to know how my horse would move, before I gave myself up to desire for him," he said "I would want to put him through his paces. I would want to know how he felt when I gentled him under my hand, smoothed his neck, touched him everywhere, behind his ears, on the lips, behind his legs. I would want to know how responsive he was when I was on him, when I had him between my legs. You know, I would even want to know the smell of him, the very scent of his sweat."
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The book will take you on a ride, with twists and turns and, just when you think you know what is becoming of it all, you will realize that you don't really care what it is becoming, it is just a great ride getting there. I wish that more authors had the dedication that Gregory displays. I find that the knowledge she displays in her book is almost as fascinating as the story. This book took me two weeks to get through. This was due to the fact that I was so consumed by the information that I would read a paragraph and then go research it for an hour before I returned to the novel. Great story, great characters, great writing. A true Tudor masterpiece.
I am not sure that you would really define these as a series, but they are chronological: The Other Boleyn Girl, The Queens Fool, and The Virgins Lover (all reviewed by Kim), as well as, The Boleyn Inheritance, The Constant Princess, and The Other Queen. I plan to read and review the remaining in the series after a short return to the 21st century:)
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My Rating: 5 Stars
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If you could sum up this book in one phrase it would be: Is it possible that I was born in the wrong century?

1 comment:

JoAnn Butler said...

O.K now this is first on my list. What an excellent review! You all have such talent for this.

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