Summer reading;Week 5;Books

13th August 1999 at 01:00
ELIZABETH THE QUEEN. By Alison Weir. Pimlico pound;8.99 pb.

Welcome to the TES reading group. Catch up with readers' views on a selection of fiction and non-fiction and join in the online discussion at


LUCY WEBSTER is a writer, advisory teacher and researcher at the English amp; Media Centre, London.

ROBERT MORGAN is an education consultant, writer and researcher.

KAREN FOUNTAIN teaches at Frodsham high school, Cheshire

TRACEY TODHUNTER is a supply teacher and playgroup assistant in Cheshire.

JEAN HAY teaches at Eden Park junior school, Brixham, Devon

RUTH CUHLS teaches at Park Hall junior school, Walsall

LW I was hooked from the first description of the young Elizabeth reading as she waits to be greeted as Queen of England. This rigorously researched and intellectually stimulating biography wears its learning lightly; it has the pace and narrative drive of good fiction. Weir weaves the primary sources into her story, bringing the historical characters to life through their own words. The momentous political and military events of Elizabeth's reign are played out against the gossipy, intimate world of the court. While reading the book I only half lived in the 20th century, always eager to return to the first Elizabethan period and the exhilarating society Weir depicts. I thoroughly recommend it.

RM Alison Weir is an intriguing

historian, and Elizabeth the Queen is most certainly an intriguing biography. It's probably the best single volume on Gloriana's life that I've read: not for the great canvas of Elizabeth's reign, intrigues and marriages-that-never were, but for the wondrous subtle detail she provides. Who would believe an aversion to "scented leather" or "kitchen smells" in an age when there were more Baldricks than bathhouses? Elizabeth comes through clearly as the last Tudor: the high-water mark of our monarchy.

KF A cliche, I know, but I could not put this book down. It has the lot: love, violence, comedy, courage, scandal, dangerous rivalries and political intrigues.

TT After a slow start establishing the historical background, I really began to enjoy this book. Treat it with the respect it deserves, it's not an easy read but well worth the effort.

JH Thoroughly enjoyable and

readable, with fascinating details of Elizabethan life interwoven with all the intrigues and idiosyncracies of the court. Elizabeth is portrayed as an enigmatic mixture of flirtatious female and manipulative stateswoman and at times Baldrick would not have seemed out of place.

RC This intricate biography makes fascinating reading, the all-powerful Elizabeth coming across as very human. The background to her reign is covered succinctly at the start of the book, providing a clear context for all that follows, making it accessible to historians and non-historians alike. Alison Weir has cleverly blended the wider political issues of the reign with the more entertaining details of Elizabeth's private life. The book goes well beyond a narrative structure, presenting a range of interesting theories and balanced arguments surrounding issues, such as the death of Lady Dudley and Elizabeth's decision to remain single and childless. I greatly enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it to others.

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