Book review – Elizabeth I by Anne Somerset

Caidyn's review (1)

Elizabeth I


After this book has been on my TBR for years and has been staring at me from my shelf, I’ve finally read it. And, I have to say, it was an excellent Elizabeth I biography. The star off is because it was a bit long and got, well, boring at times for me. But, I’d still recommend this book to anyone.

It was very even. Lots of people love Elizabeth I. Some people don’t like her. I’m somewhere in the middle, where I like her and I think she was a great queen, but she also was cut from the same cloth as her parents were.

Admittedly, I’ve read more about Elizabeth’s childhood than her adult years. I’m familiar with her childhood and the things she went through, so I was very grateful that this book didn’t cover the same material that I’ve read many times. By the third or fourth chapter, we were onto her adult years as queen. To me, that was very impressive since there is a lot that happened in her childhood that drove her to be the adult she was, but this book focuses completely on Elizabeth as queen.

And, just let me tell you, this is a very long book. My copy was 733 pages, but it was over 800 when you count the notes, bibliography, and index. Most of those 733 pages were spent about her as a queen.

It did drop off at times and I felt like it kind of glossed over things like her imprisonment of the Grey sisters (although, I’m already familiar with that story). And, I’m also not quite sure if I agree with Somerset’s analysis of whether Elizabeth was a virgin. That could be my 21st century mind finding that hard to believe when you look at the evidence of her relationships with various men in court, but I don’t know.

Still, this was an absolutely excellent book. It felt like it was so long, but once I got into the book, it went by in a flash and I was very sad putting it down. It kind of reflected how I felt about the book I read about The Queen Mother, which was an over 1000 page biography about Queen Elizabeth II’s mother. It was kind of like losing an old friend, even though I can reread it anytime I want to.

This is definitely a book I’d recommend if you have an interest in the area. You’d have to read other books to get the background on Elizabeth’s childhood — and, probably, a biography or two on her parents — but it’s a very easy to read book. I knew bits and pieces of her reign but largely nothing. So, I’m very glad that I’ve finally read this! Another book off my top ten list for this year.

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4 thoughts on “Book review – Elizabeth I by Anne Somerset

  1. Well done for reading a book that’s been waiting on your shelf for a while! I’m glad you liked it. I haven’t read a book solely about Elizabeth but she’s obviously featured in books about the Tudors generally, so I know some things about her. I really couldn’t read a 700+ page about her though!

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  3. Pingback: Book review – Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser – BW Reviews

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