The Marriage Game by Alison Weir

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The Marriage Game by Alison Weir

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fascinating novel covering the reign of Elizabeth I. Weir argues that Bess refused to marry at least partly due to a fear of sex and a horror at what happened to her mother. The prose doesn't always flow as well as it could, but this story is so full of accurate historical detail and anecdote that you don't really mind.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: June 2014
Publisher: Hutchinson
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0091926254

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Elizabeth I ruled England for 45 years and she is widely regarded as one of our most successful monarchs. Yet controversy surrounds her. Was she legitimate or illegitimate? Why did she never marry? What was her relationship with Lord Robert Dudley? Alison Weir follows the story of her reign and gives us her own theories about the Virgin Queen and her motivations and intentions, whilst describing the colour and pageantry of the English court. It's going to be a must-read for all Tudor fanatics.

I must confess that I am still slightly unsure about Alison Weir as a writer of fiction. Her prose can be a little stilted and, while I applaud the sheer weight of the accurate detail in The Marriage Game, sometimes it also detracts from the flow of the narrative. If you're looking for a beautifully-realised story, you might be a little bit disappointed, too.

However, if you're in this for an interesting angle on England's most famous Queen, posited by someone who knows exactly what she's talking about, then this is the book for you. Weir's theory here is this: Elizabeth had many reasons for remaining a virgin queen. Partly her decision was one of political strategy, which is often discussed. But partly too, her reasons were psychological: combining a childhood horror at what happened to her mother at the hands of a husband who owned her and partly a fear of sex itself, thanks to an early liaison with Thomas Seymour.

We'll never know the truth, of course, but Weir creates a credible theory here, using contemporary records and real reported conversations. She also builds a theory of Elizabeth's infamous relationship with Robert Dudley, all constructed from the same records and conversations. I won't spoil things by outlining it for you, but it, too, is highly credible.

It seems our fascination with the most successful of the Tudor monarchs will never abate. The Marriage Game takes us from Elizabeth's accession to her death and it really is a fascinating and thought-provoking read, not least because it backs up every assertion with real evidence from the period.

Alison Weir is one of our favourite accessible historians and if you'd like to read more about Elizabeth's mother outside of fiction, you should look at The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by her.

Buy The Marriage Game by Alison Weir at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Marriage Game by Alison Weir at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Marriage Game by Alison Weir at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Marriage Game by Alison Weir at Amazon.com.


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