Most Goodread-ers read multiple books a month. This adds up to thousands of pages a year. Sometimes, we need a little break from the overwhelming amounts of text. A respite which still includes an intelligently written book, but accompanied by some “pretty pictures”. Hey, there is a reason that children love picture books!
What Life Was Like in the Realm of Elizabeth is a beautiful collection of large, glossy photos and subsequent textual information relating to both the reign of Elizabeth and general life during Elizabethan times. Although not a heavy duty resource for Tudor experts (as the light information is written simply for the average reader); it strongly provides pages and pages of eye-catching photos which results in a solid supplement book from the Tudor lover.
The oversized book (it can be argued that this is a “coffee-table book”) begins with a brief overview of Henry VIII (and I mean brief) and also with a Tudor timeline and family tree. The family tree doesn’t list the many chronological wives and husbands of Tudor members with numbers (1, 2, 3) which can confuse the non-regular Tudor reader whom may be seeking the order of the wives, for instance, but otherwise it is easy to maneuver.
The narrative regarding Elizabeth is much more detailed, engaging, and smooth with general information regarding her reign, smaller side notes, firm quotes, and historical references. Did you think this was just a push-over book? Shame on you! Providing a firm overview of Elizabeth (from her councilors, courtly crushes, “Golden Age”, and even her wardrobes); the book also highlights the lives of her subjects: work, family life, food, play, science and medical fields, etc. Instead of just explaining these ways of Elizabethan life in a monotonous and encyclopedic manner; individual stories are told of some well known (and lesser known, but interesting) characters such as the tales of famous vagrants Nicholas Jennings and Judith Phillips, John Gerard’s heroic escape from the Tower, and much-talked about Sir Francis Drake, Richard Madox, and of course Sir Walter Raleigh. This provided a strong historical account but also an appealing “big picture” view of the times.
Although I’ve read what I feel like is hundreds of Tudor books, I still LOVED this offering from Time Life books. It is a lovely pictorial Tudor supplement whether you are new to the topic or a pro seeking that much-deserved break from extensive text. Informative and stunning, it carries the best of both worlds. A must-have for the coffee tables of Tudor-obsessed readers.