A novel of the early years of Elizabeth Tudor-as told by the spirited niece of her real-life governess.
Her name is Eloise Rousell
. Daughter of a well-bred lady and a strolling player, she lived her early years in peaceful obscurity. But then her father died-and her new stepfather wanted none of her. So she was sent to her aunt, Kat Ashley-governess to the young Elizabeth Tudor.
In the tumultuous household of the princess in exile, Eloise finds her destiny- best friend, confidante, lady-in-waiting, and favored seamstress of the fiery girl who would become the greatest monarch of all time.
Through a decade of plots and counter-plots, tragedies and triumphs, Eloise, like her aunt, is a constant in Elizabeth's life. Risking her heart- and her head-in service to the cause of seeing Elizabeth on the throne, Eloise is a bright, brave, sprightly witness to history. This is her story.
In this uneven first-person overview of Elizabeth Tudor's rise to power, Ashley (who also writes Regency mysteries as Ashley Gardner) chooses the unlikely perspective of Eloise Rousell, Elizabeth's faithful seamstress and confidante. Elizabeth and Eloise meet thanks to Elizabeth's governess, Eloise's "Aunt Kat," and Eloise is soon a demure eyewitness to Elizabeth's early problems with Lord Thomas Seymour, whom Catherine Parr marries after King Henry's death. Seymour's later executed for treason. After Elizabeth's young brother King Edward dies, more conflicts arise, significantly so after Lady Jane Grey's execution and Queen Mary's coronation. It's moderately intense, though Queen Elizabeth's controversial affair with the scandalous Robert Dudley is quickly glossed over. Also, the sweet, sudden romance between Eloise and Elizabeth's spy, James Colby, feels contrived, as does the couple's role in persuading Elizabeth to forego marriage to Robert. Though Eloise is nice enough, her wide-eyed take makes for an underdeveloped portrait of the Virgin Queen and the treacherous Tudors.
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October 01, 2007
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