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Kenilworth (Waverley Novels #8)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  668 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, an aesthetically fine man, had attained a status of respectable merit in the court of Queen Elizabeth, and the privileges he found there had much to do with his potential marriageability. However, the Earl was already married to Amy Robsart, a woman of great beauty and virtue. This union had been kept secret so the Earl could retain his po ...more
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Published July 2nd 2004 by NuVision Publications (first published 1821)
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Free download available at eBooks@Adelaide.

Due to the Scottish Independence Referendum, which occurred in Sept. 18, I decided to read a couple of books written by two great Scottish writers: The Master of Ballantrae (see my review here) by Robert L. Stevenson and the present book.

The love affair between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, is very well-known and has been described in several books.

However the role played by Amy Robsart, Dudley's wife, into this plot was never
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m sorry to say that I hated this a little bit. I had such hopes for Walter Scott, and I find myself in a pickle because I’m determined to finish my three-novel omnibus regardless of my impression of this first attempt. With any luck Ivanhoe and Quentin Durward will be better, but I just don’t know how hopeful I am. What really gets me is that I thought the plot had such promise; it’s the story of Amy Robsart, the secret wife of Queen Elizabeth’s famous favorite, the Earl of Leicester. I like c ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19c-lit
As the book opens, Amy Robsart has left her family home and has secretly married Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Amy's father, Sir Hugh and the man her father intended her to marry, Edmund Tressilian, have no knowledge of Amy's whereabouts and suspect foul play at the hands of Dudley's sneaky master of the horse, Richard Varney, and Tressilian goes in search of Amy at an old manor house, Cumnor Place. As Elizabeth I's attraction to Dudley grows, so does Dudley's ambitions to reach for the star ...more
Ruthie Jones
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
Review to come later.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"...when stakes are made, the game must be played; that is gamester's law, all over the world." ~ chapter III

"Well--it is wise to practice beforehand the part which fortune prepares us to play--the young eagle must gaze at the sun, ere he soars on strong wing to meet it." ~ chapter V

"I had never more need that the heavenly bodies should befriend me, for my earthly path is darkened and confused." ~ chapter XVIII

"...but the truth is, that a
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*Slight spoilers below*

I was told to read this because I hope to visit Kenilworth Castle. Part 1 sets the scene for this tale of mystery, deception, court politics and murder, set in 1575 when Elizabeth 1 did indeed visit one of her favourites - Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester - at Kenilworth. There is a large smattering of historic licence from Walter Scott, but it all makes for a terrific tale.

It's rather a hard slog to read at first, but it picks up in Part 2 with the entrance of Elizabeth
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm, what to say. Once I was about 40% into this book, I enjoyed it much more. Granted the ‘stage’ had to be set so much back-story was provided before the real interesting bits began (read that to mean the character of Queen Elizabeth I entered ).
Having visited Kenilworth for the second time this last summer and being honored to see the recreated gardens that were mentioned by Scott (from a primary source of the time of Elizabeth’s visit) this book had added enjoyment and interest. The myster
I picked this up on a recent visit to Kenilworth Castle and I had high hopes for it as it features one of my favourite historical figures in Robert Dudley. I can't say exactly why but it just didn't do it for me. The plot revolves around Elizabeth I's progress in 1575 where she was entertained at Kenilworth Castle by Robert Dudley in what was considered a last ditch attempt at romantic courtship. In Scott's novel the subplot is the concealment of Dudley's marriage to Amy Robsart, the eventual un ...more
Mar 19, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a truly terrible piece of work on many grounds. Historically, it's a complete shambles - Scott has plain made up a great deal of the back story, and not very well at that. Dialogue is hopelessly stilted, the long descriptions of the revels at Kenilworth seem to be written by a completely different author, and the last couple of chapters read as if the author has suddenly realised he had a deadline to meet. Scott's earlier works are muddled and hard to understand with their Scottish diale ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very slow book to get in to, but I'm tolerant and once all of the background information was behind me I really enjoyed the story. The copy I read had notations of what was historical fact and fiction. I found it so interesting. I usually need happy endings, so I was surprised how much I liked this book.
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after visiting Kenilworth Castle. If your unaccustomed to reading eighteenth century English prose, you may struggle a bit with the language, but the reward does more than outweigh the effort. If you like castles, mysteries and history this book is for you.
Rian MacLoughlin
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A masterful piece of historical fiction, and portrays, I think, fairly accurately the personality of one of the great monarchs of history, Elizabeth I. The story itself ends rather abruptly, rather wrenchingly too, I think, probably as the author is working to preserve some semblance of historical accuracy. For me, the ending was very abrupt, and broke the flow of what had been a very enjoyable read, and a fascinating window into Elizabethan England. All good things must come to an end...
Julieann Wielga
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I THINK this is the edition I've got. My copy has no publication date, but I would say it WAS a nineteenth century book. Some parts of it had evidently never been read: the pages hadn't even been cut.

As with most Scott books, edition evidently matters quite a bit. The edition I have has a strangely lacking glossary. Only about 1/3 of the words I looked for were in the glossary.

This edition also contains one of Scott's idiosyncrasies. I never have figured out why Scott decided to put indeces in n
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
1.5 stars. When I was 16 I visited Scotland, where our tour bus stopped at Loch Ness (naturally). Inside a tourist-trap souvenir shop I spotted on the bookrack two novels by Walter Scott: Ivanhoe and Rob Roy. I decided to pick them up, only knowing Rob Roy from a recently released cheesy Liam Neeson movie. After I got back to the States, I devoured these two hefty books in about two weeks, fascinated by the archaic language and feeling transported to these almost-fantasy worlds of the past. Sinc ...more
As stated in its introduction, an attempt to follow The Abbot's presentation of Mary Queen of Scots with a novel about Elizabeth. More specifically, it deals with one of her courtiers, the Earl of Leicester, who has rather illadvisedly married Amy Robsart, the daughter of a minor Duke. But since he is a favorite at court, and holds the desire to wed Elizabeth and thus become King, he keeps his wife secluded at Cumnor Hall and only visits surreptiously and rarely. His henchman Varney is a truly d ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published by Sir Walter Scott in 1821, Kenilworth is loosely based on events in Elizabethan England in 1575. Historical inaccuracies aside, it is an engaging story with strong characterizations. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a favorite of the Queen and a man of driving ambition, secretly marries Amy Robsart. His deep love for her cannot prevent him, however, from keeping the marriage a secret from the Queen. Leicester’s love and his ambition provide the driving tensions in this novel, and hi ...more
Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adrienne
This romantic story revolves around a damsel in distress, her husband Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and his evil genius, and the Virgin Queen of England, Elizabeth. From the beginning this damsel is in a difficult situation. She has married, but her husband is keeping the marriage a secret while he attempts to win Elizabeth. His evil genius reminds me of Rasputin who influenced Tsarina Alexandra or the character of Count Fosco in The Woman in White. At every turn Robert Dudley and Barney eva ...more
Nov 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give the book another half of a star if I could. I loved the history and interesting facts Sir Walter Scott included, and in fairness he tells the reader that he made Dudley possibly kinder than he was in real life. Many of the evils he assigns to Dudley's man Varney may more accurately belong to Dudley. Sometimes not knowing is fun, and sometimes it is frustrating because Robert Dudley has been romanticized as a man who one can feel at least a little sorry for. Perhaps I have been misle ...more
Robert Hepple
This book was a long haul. The plot is all about court intrigues in Elizabethan England, but Scott beats around the bush a lot, possibly to add more Elizabethan detail to the story. For example, Queen Elizabeth spend several pages debating the merits of the new-fangled Shakespeare plays compared to the more traditional pastime of bear-baiting. There are pages of descriptions of entertainments and banquets, as well as appendices giving further descriptions. Genuine historic characters are introdu ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Once you get used to the language, Kenilworth is an interesting read. While it may not be historically accurate, it is Scott's vision of what went on during 1575 during the reign of Elizabeth I of England.
In Scott's story, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester has become a favorite of Elizabeth I and has ambition to become king. There is only one little matter standing in his way and that is his marriage to Amy Robsart, who is not of royal birth. Also, being married is not such a great idea for a m
Rosie Shephard
Wow - I found it hard to believe that this book was written back in the early 1800's! It seemed much more recent. And yet, it really reminded me of Shakespeare's style and dramatic flare!

This story is centered on Amy Robsart, a young woman wedded to Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester. She loves her husband but dislikes being confined in a country house of his - he claims that she and their marriage must be kept a secret because of how high he is in Queen Elizabeth's favor. But there is a group of m
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Never, ever read the preface of a historical novel before you read the book. It ruined this book for me.
First, you gotta understand that I am not a fan of sad or morbid or heart-break endings. And the preface that I read gave me the historical background for what this book was about to outline. And it made it clear that if the book stuck anywhere close to the facts, it must necessarily have an ending in which the heroine dies. After I found that out I had a terrible time reading the book. I comp
Christina Dudley
This fictionalized account of the love triangle between Queen Elizabeth I, the Earl of Leicester, and Amy Robsart, swung between interesting-and-very-nearly-suspenseful to mind-numbingly dull. Fortunately, the dullest parts were skimmable without great harm done. I did miss the backstory on Wayland Whatshisname because the pedant character that preceded him sent me into a coma of boredom, from which I was several chapters in recovering. The best parts featured Elizabeth and Leicester's interacti ...more
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first the pace of plot was slowed by the time I required to become accustomed to 195 year old English, but it accelerated to a racing end as the villains' web began to catch innocent flies. One doubts that people spoke like lawyers back then, as they all do in this book, irrespective of their social class. But the effect of such wordy and lengthy multi-compounded sentences is precision of description and understanding of thoughts, feelings, and every step of the tragic plot. A dictionary was ...more
I read this as a teenager, but enjoyed it quite a lot the second time around, too. It's pretty wordy, some of the descriptions go on way too long and the humor is a bit forced in places. Still, gripping story, pretty good characters and lots of historical detail. I've just gotten onto a Gutenberg Project kick and will most likely be reading something old, on my iPod, most of the time now. It sure makes it more fun to wait for band/play rehearsal/ski practice/interact/quiz bowl to be over while w ...more
Better organized than most of Scott's novels and has a good plot. Amy herself is almost unbearably stupid and bratty, but that's only to be expected--who else would want to marry that Leicester guy? Oh right, Elizabeth...but I don't think she seriously wanted to marry him. ;) Janet, Tony Foster, Tressilian, and Varney are the characters that interest me. If you like Elizabethan romance/adventure that doesn't feature tacky pregnancy plots, you might enjoy this story. I warn you, the ending is sad ...more
Classics can sometimes have a magical quality, beneath the formal dialogue and lengthy descriptions often hides a brilliant and surprising plot, wit and humor or captivating drama. Not so with Kenilworth. For the 500 pages of type, only 20 pages or so were of any substance, and near dull at that. All of the characters, with the exception of poor Tressilian, were annoying with few redeeming qualities and, to sink the story entirely, diverted down so many irrelevant trails and side tales, I found ...more
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition, the facts that this book is based on are fascinating (there was much googling for fact v. fiction), but the book was entirely too long. There were chunks of this novel I most definitely could have done without; the writing was protracted, wordy, trivially descriptive. I tried to appreciate Scott for what he was -- the father of historical fiction, but it's hard to stay invested when I can barely keep my eyes open.
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition, the facts that this book is based on are fascinating (there was much googling for fact v. fiction), but the book was entirely too long. There were chunks of this novel I most definitely could have done without; the writing was protracted, wordy, trivially descriptive. I tried to appreciate Scott for what he was -- the father of historical fiction, but it's hard to stay invested when I can barely keep my eyes open.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Sir Walter Scott was born on August 15, 1771 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Scott created and popularized historical novels in a series called the Waverley Novels. In his novels Scott arranged the plots and characters so the reader enters into the lives of both great and ordinary people caught up in violent, dramatic
More about Walter Scott...

Other Books in the Series

Waverley Novels (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Waverley
  • Guy Mannering
  • The Antiquary
  • Rob Roy
  • Ivanhoe
  • The Monastery
  • The Abbot
  • The Pirate
  • Fortunes of Nigel
  • Peveril of the Peak
“The schoolmaster is termed, classically, Ludi Magister, because he deprives boys of their play.” 6 likes
“I pretend not to be a champion of that same naked virtue called truth, to the very outrance. I can consent that her charms be hidden with a veil, were it but for decency's sake.” 3 likes
More quotes…