Elizabeth Tudor, the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, has finally come into power on the throne of England. The turmoil and strife that has dogged her since her birth, however, has not ceased just because she's now the reigning monarch.
There are several who would be only too glad to push her from her precarious perch and install another on the seat of power. Strife with France, Spain and Scotland hover as an ever-present danger over the head adorned with golden red hair. If that weren't enough, the country is divided as the battle between Catholics and Protestants continues. What's a queen to do?
This particular Queen finds strength and solace in the company and the arms of Robert Dudley. The pressure is on from her advisors to marry and align England with a country that could increase its strength and security. Elizabeth I, however, waffles and waivers and refuses to make a choice for a husband while spending her time with an ambitious man already married to a virtuous wife.
Robert Dudley was much loved by Queen Elizabeth I and detested by her advisors and the rest of England. While his good looks, charm and silver tongue endeared him to the Queen, it earned him adversaries everywhere else. The fact that he was already married to a good wife, set aside in his pursuit of the Queen, only served to fuel the fire of gossip that spread across England and other European countries.
The star-crossed lovers are separated by the fact that Dudley is not of an equal rank to Elizabeth, that the country strongly opposes the match and that he is still married to Amy Robsart. Even when Amy dies in what is ultimately ruled an accident, the rumors and gossip that it was murder make an already doomed relationship impossible.
Perhaps we'll never know the whole truth surrounding Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley and the death of Amy Robsart. But as she always does, Philippa Gregory presents us with a plausible and perhaps even probable scenario of the events that fascinated one of the world's most powerful countries hundreds of years ago and continues to fascinate us today.
Lovers of history will devour Gregory's latest novel, carried on in the tradition of THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL and THE QUEEN'S FOOL. Even if you're not a history buff, THE VIRGIN'S LOVER will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good scandal.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on January 24, 2011