From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Wife of Henry VIII comes a novel about the bitter rivalry between Queen Elizabeth I and her fascinating cousin, Lettice Knollys, for the love of one extraordinary manPowerful, dramatic and full of the rich history that has made Carolly Erickson's novels perennial bestsellers, this is the story of the only woman to ever stand up to the Virgin Queen- her own cousin, Lettie Knollys. Far more attractive than the queen, Lettie soon won the attention of the handsome and ambitious Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a man so enamored of the queen and determined to share her throne that it was rumored he had murdered his own wife in order to become her royal consort. The enigmatic Elizabeth allowed Dudley into her heart, and relied on his devoted service, but shied away from the personal and political risks of marriage. When Elizabeth discovered that he had married her cousin Lettie in secret, Lettie would pay a terrible price, fighting to keep her husband's love and ultimately losing her beloved son, the Earl of Essex, to the queen's headsman.
The Virgin Queen Elizabeth I and her heart's consort, Lord Robert Dudley, the earl of Leicester, continue to exert a seductive hold on the imagination as fodder for fiction. Now Erickson examines a rival for Lord Dudley's affections, Leticia "Lettie Knollys, a Boleyn relative who, along with her sister, served in Elizabeth's court and eventually became Lady Leicester. Erickson (The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots) paints Elizabeth as an enormously selfish, envious monster, and Dudley as a handsome rake who's devoted to his own agenda and to his queen. But due at least in part to politics, his relationship with Elizabeth doesn't end in the marriage he's longed for, and the marriage he does have, to Lady Amy, ends with her untimely death, a possible suicide. Dudley's marriage to Lettie produces a son who later dies, and a liaison with Lady Douglass Sheffield produces a bastard, or "base son. Erickson writes gracefully, but his Elizabeth is too cartoonish, and Lettie, his narrator, reveals her history with a stereotypical dispassionate air that fails to engage the reader emotionally. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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St. Martin's Press
September 26, 2010
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