Now available again, the first book in Robin Maxwell's acclaimed Elizabethan Quartet: "Wonderfully juicy . . . Maxwell brings all of bloody Tudor England vividly to life” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
One was queen for a thousand days; one for over forty years. Both were passionate, headstrong women, loved and hated by Henry VIII. Yet until the discovery of the secret diary, Anne Boleyn and her daughter, Elizabeth I, had never really met.
Anne was the second of Henry's six wives, doomed to be beloved, betrayed, and beheaded. When Henry fell madly in love with her upon her return from an education at the lascivious French court, he was already a married man. While his passion for Anne was great enough to rock the foundation of England and of all Christendom, in the end he forsook her for another love, schemed against her, and ultimately had her sentenced to death. But unbeknownst to the king, Anne had kept a diary.
At the beginning of Elizabeth 's reign, it is pressed into her hands. In reading it, the young queen discovers a great deal about her much-maligned mother: Anne's fierce determination, her hard-won knowledge about being a woman in a world ruled by despotic men, and her deep-seated love for the infant daughter taken from her shortly after her birth.
In the journal's pages, Elizabeth finds an echo of her own dramatic life as a passionate young woman at the center of England's powerful male establishment, and with the knowledge gained from them, makes a resolution that will change the course of history.
This is a wonderfully juicy historical novel so convincing that it's difficult to believe it is the author's first. Just as the newly crowned Elizabeth I is about to become amorously involved with a power-hungry nobleman, an old friend of her mother's appears, shriveled and decrepit, bearing a tome written in the hand of the new queen's mother, Anne Boleyn. The friend had promised Anne that she would deliver the diary to Elizabeth when she reached maturity. Orphaned at age three, Elizabeth grew up knowing almost nothing of her notorious mother but what official history put forth: that she was an adulterer and traitor and deserved to die. From her mother's diary, she learns the truth, the inside scoop on the lusty, unstable King Henry, the good and pious Queen Katherine, scheming Cardinal Wolsey, high-minded Thomas More, King Francis I of France, Emperor Charles of Spain and others. Elizabeth learns, too, of her mother's life-from her youth, through her tempestuous courtship and marriage to Henry VIII, which ended with her being beheaded. Elizabeth thus becomes acquainted with the mother she had never really known at precisely the moment when she most needs a mother's advice. She picks up valuable survival skills along the way-two of which, concerning the treachery of men and the unreliability of courtiers, deeply impress the young queen and help explain the mystery of why she never wed. Painting vicious court intrigue, national and international politics and the role of the Reformation, Maxwell brings not only the two queens but all of bloody Tudor England vividly to life.