Elizabeth – Review

The British Royal family seems to be the focus of all sorts of media nowadays. From the young Princess Charlotte’s pictures to the Queen’s birthday, everything makes headlines. But we have another kind of treat in store for you – the new biography of the first Queen Elizabeth – first of her name and queen of all Englishmen. John Guy’s preface to his new book is enough to reel in even the most reluctant of readers – he tells us of his personal experience in researching the book and treading paths in Elizabethan history that previous biographers had ignored. The best part, however, is his description of the archival material he came upon all over Europe – from England to the Iberian Peninsula – some letters in the Queen’s own hand too. His excitement at his discoveries is palpable and very contagious too, for what’s better to read than a book written with such enthusiasm?

Guy focuses on the Queen’s later years, because the earlier, more personally glamorous ones have been written about at length and have also been the subject of plenty of movies. The later years, of an ageing, obstinate queen, with military ambitions and annoying male advisers is far more fascinating than one would expect. The pageants, the arguments and the personal relations are beautifully described in this book, and Elizabeth I’s personality and strength shine through instead of being smothered by historic detail. It takes a rare kind of biographer to bring to life someone who died centuries ago and whose personality has been exaggerated and become such an undetachable part of her day and age that it is almost impossible to get to the actual person inside. Having an entire Age named after one is no mean feat and something only a handful of kings can boast of and this biography reveals some of the reasons why.

So this summer, whether you’re bingeing on Netflix’s “The Crown” or ITV’s “Victoria”, give yourself the pleasure of reading Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years and as an added bonus, also try out Victoria: A Life by A. N. Wilson.

Madeeha Mabool

Madeeha Mabool

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