Like Elizabeth, who in her later years was mistaken for senile by the overly confident blokes who peopled her court, this book has genius despite its age.
Jenkins does a very nice job of detailing Elizabeth's life.
I thought it was the best book I had ever read. (I believe my early reading of this book is the source of my disgust with Mary Queen of Scots--who is admired by Miss Jenkins for her personal courage, but excoriated for her lack of judgment and general deviousness.) I would read this book for its beautiful appreciation of Elizabeth's contradictory character.
Her mind, he said, seemed to be free from female weakness, and her power of application was like a mansShe had a grasp already of several languages, speaking French, Italian, and Spanish as fluently as English, Latin easily and Greek moderately well Alone among the monarchs of Europe, she eschewed war and balanced her budget. The English crown was supported by a subsidy provided by the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament; in 1566 Elizabeths message to Parliament was accompanied by a very bold and able stroke. Mary, Queen of Scots, her first cousin once removed, conspired at Elizabeths murder for decades only ceasing when she was beheaded on Elizabeths warrant. Late in life, When Henri IV sent over as his ambassador the future Duc de Sully, Elizabeth said that she would give him her view of the European situation with reference to the House of Austria. On the evidence of this conversation alone, Sully was convinced, he said, that this great queen merited the whole of that great reputation she had throughout Europe. Look at the way she responded to the mortal provocation of the Mary Queen of Scots in her conniving with Phillip of Spain, and the deadly threat implied by the Armadatwisting, turning, delaying, defraying expense, negotiating, and then, when the Spanish ships were at her doorstep, striking with the full force of the superb navy that she had nurtured, so technically advanced that is was akin to a secret weapon.
The Guardian calls Jenkins a 'biographer of exceptional quality' and a 'biographer of strong female characters.' This biography of Queen Elizabeth I of England was interesting, insightful and instructive! The author speculates that Elizabeth's determination to remain 'the Virgin Queen" stemmed from her childhood memories of the losses of Henry VIII's wives and marraiges (and of course, among them, the loss of her own mother, Anne Boleyn.) Her love of the people of England is legendary. I am now so enamored of this time period that I am determined to read next, Antonia Fraser's "Mary Queen of Scots".
Although Mary spoiled Elizabeth with gifts and clothing she also kept her away when she was ruler of England. Elizabeth while being the king's second born child was given the last opportunity to lead England. While being Queen there were those who questioned her authority to lead mainly Queen Mary of Scots for Mary truly believed that she was the true queen, and the loyal English catholics did not see Elizabeth as queen and were instructed by the Pope not to see her as queen.
But even with the sleep-inducing effects, Elizabeth the Great is filled with facts and tidbits about the Tudor reign. I also need to remark that Ms. Jenkins is quite a fan girl of Elizabeth I.
Its author, Ms. Mantel wrote, seems to know a good deal about how women think and how their lives are arranged; what women collude in, what they fear. Despite good reviews for her first novel and a three-book deal with the publisher Victor Gollancz, Ms. Jenkins began teaching English at King Alfreds School in Hampstead, where she remained until the outbreak of World War II. During the war Ms. Jenkins worked for the Assistance Board, helping Jewish refugees and victims of the German air raids on London. The historian Garrett Mattingly, in a review, wrote that Ms. Jenkins is really not much interested in war and diplomacy, politics and finance. We believe Elizabeth Jenkins, he added, because, by imaginative insight and instinctive sympathy, she can make the figures of a remote historical pageant as real, as living, as three-dimensional as characters in a novel.