While I was waiting at Sydney airport at the beginning of Sept to head off on our trip I was browsing the book selections at the airport newsagency and discovered The Lady Elizabeth. I had just finished The Virgin's Lover and was keen to keep reading about Elizabeth I - even in fiction form. I had read some of Alison Weir's non-fiction before - The Six Wives of Henry VIII - and I thought her research and attention to detail was brilliant. Unfortunately I didn't love her fiction as much as her non-fiction.
The Lady Elizabeth covers the period of Elizabeth's life from her birth until the time she becomes Queen after the death of her sister, Mary. I really enjoyed the start and the end of this novel but I felt the middle section played out, and read, like a very bad soap opera. This middle section of the book fictionalises and imagines an intimate relationship between the young Elizabeth and a man who may or may not have played this part in her life. In the Author's Note at the end of the book Alison Weir talks about this section and why she wrote it in the way she did;
I make no apology for the fact that, for dramatic purposes, I have woven into my story a tale that goes against all my instincts as a historian! Indeed, I have argued many times in the past, in print, in lectures and on radio and television, why I firmly believe that Elizabeth I was the Virgin Queen she claimed to be, since the historical evidence would appear to support that.
I really think this tale for "dramatic purpose" actually detracts from the novel and makes it weaker than it otherwise needed to be. The narrative of this section feels forced and faked and it was where I lost track of where the story was heading. Weir does bring the story back to focus on Elizabeth and her strengths at the end but for me it felt like it was a little too late.
I am still looking for more books about Elizabeth I (fiction or non-fiction) - does anyone have any to suggest that they have really enjoyed??