Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Biography Central

America has voted and my next read will be Rum Row. I will start it later tonight. But first I cannot let another moment go by without telling you about the scintillating book I just finished reading.

It is so glorious and captivating that it took me only 5 weeks to read. It is called Elizabeth - The Struggle for the Throne. It tells the story of the life of the first Queen Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry the VIII from her birth through the first torential years of her reign. Apparently the other two thirds of her life are in the sequel.

It honestly is an interesting read, though. Because I've been reading a lot about this era lately (both in good biographies, good historical fiction, and horrendous historical fiction), I was especially interested to see how the different characters helped to shape history generally and England specifically. Plus it's a great book to read when you can't fall asleep.

Queen Elizabeth did so much to further her kingdom politically, socially and religiously. I liked this book because it told a very human story - Elizabeth is often praised, and rightly so, but she is rarely explained. This author discusses her development in terms of modern psychology and in a way that the modern lay-person can understand.
My biggest complaint about the book is that it completely crushes my favorite source of information on Elizabeth's life - the movie Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett. I love that movie - the costumes, the drama, the anguish, the heartbreak. There are still great dresses in the book, and there is drama. She also has to give up the love of her life in order to keep peace in her kingdom, but it's much less romantic in the book (real life) than it is in the movie. Once again the fantasy is destroyed.

It is a very comprehensive and competent biography of the first trimester of the life of Queen Elizabeth I. It's not as good as the movie, but it is much more historically accurate.

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