The Virgin’s Lover – Philippa Gregory

Another excellent historical read from Philippa Gregory (on loan from Janette), this time covering the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign, the rise to power and fall from grace of her favourite Robert Dudley, the political machinations of Cecil, the religious uncertainty of the early decades of the protestant religion, the marital manoeuverings of various European powers, and the untimely death of Lord Dudley’s wife, Amy.

Philippa Gregory succeeds in making you appreciate that not only is history written by the winners, but also that the focus on political history masks the domestic and day to day events and relationships that underpin those politics. However, in revealing the day to day behaviours of the great and the good, Philippa Gregory also draws a cast of characters most of whom we know of already yet none of whom are particularly likeable. Although this in itself does not mean that the book is any less worth a read, it does mean you are not drawn into the novel so readily. In fact, what I particularly liked about this novel was the author’s end note, which in essence states that, “This is based on a true story”, the bare outline of which I knew. However the detail of that truth delivers a far more fascinating scenario than I’d hitherto imagined.

Hmmm, what next? I had a few false starts before I got to this book … do I go back to The Saskiad (the promise of the random paras I read in the second hand shop in Hereford didn’t stand up to closer scrutiny), or further back to White Mughals (a bit heavy going, although very good on the detail) …. or on to something completely different?

Buy it: Amazon link