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Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen and the Men who Loved Her

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The Elizabethan golden age was peopled by a court of flamboyant and devoted men - each one unique, ambitious and talented. At its centre was a woman, Elizabeth, the Tudor princess who succeeded to the throne of England in 1558 and who vowed to her Parliament to remain unwed and a Virgin Queen for the rest of her life. How did such a diverse group of red-blooded men view their ‘Gloriana?’ What were their aims and intentions? What were their dreams? And just how did Elizabeth manage to control and manipulate them? A unique blend of fact and fiction brings the Elizabethan court and its inhabitants to life in an evocative series of biographical sketches that will inform and entertain in equal measure.

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132 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2014

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About the author

Robert Stephen Parry

12 books148 followers
Robert Stephen Parry is a UK writer of adult historical fiction, bringing you stories from a wide range of time periods - from Tudor & Elizabethan, through 18th-century Georgian, right up to the era of Victorian England and the Belle Époque. Well researched and vivid historical settings combine with unusual elements of mystery, humour and romance.

On a lighter note, he has also collaborated recently with the distinguished avian writer, A.Robin, Esq. in providing the illustrations for the book 'The Magnificent British Garden Robin'.

For more, visit: robertstephenparry.com

Publications to date:
2019 QUEEN VICTORIA - and the Men who Loved Her
2016 THE TESTAMENT OF SOPHIE DAWES - The Queen of Chantilly and a Scandal at the Heart of Victorian Society
2015 THE HOURS BEFORE - A Story of Mystery and Suspense from the Belle Époque
2014 ELIZABETH - The Virgin Queen and the Men who Loved Her
2013 WILDISH- A story Concerning Different Kinds of Love
2011 THE ARROW CHEST - A Victorian Mystery
2009 VIRGIN AND THE CRAB - Sketches, Fables and Mysteries from the Early Life of John Dee and Elizabeth Tudor

Web: https://robertstephenparry.com

Also, various articles and blogposts by Robert Stephen Parry can be found at https://robertstephenparry.com/endymion/

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Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Natalie Grueninger.
Author 9 books117 followers
July 11, 2014
Having read and loved Robert Parry’s novels ‘Virgin & the Crab’ and ‘The Arrow Chest’, I could not wait to get my hands on Parry’s latest book ‘Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen and the Men Who Loved Her.’
As the title suggests, the book is a series of short biographies of some of Elizabeth’s favoured courtiers and advisers, including Thomas Seymour, Robert Dudley, John Dee, Christopher Hatton, William Cecil and Robert Devereux. At the completion of each ‘biographical sketch’, Parry rates each man’s accomplishments and qualities using a cheeky Tudor Rose rating system, which imbues the work with humour and charm. I couldn’t agree more with William Cecil’s five out of five star rating or Dudley’s four out of five stars, after all, he had his faults but like Elizabeth, we love him anyway!

While I enjoyed learning about each of these men and their love for ‘Gloriana’, what sets this book apart is that each factual entry is followed by an entertaining and lighthearted fictional vignette, where Parry brings the characters and Elizabeth’s relationships spectacularly to life.

As we’re told in the preface, the story of Elizabeth and her men is delivered as a series of lectures, based on a conference the author himself attended over a weekend some years ago. So convincing is Parry, I was certain the lectures and the Elizabethan manor house where the retreat took place were real, only to be gently informed by the author that this too was part of the tale! Parry’s ability to effortlessly cocoon fact within a story, within another story, while not compromising on the integrity of the work, will not fail to impress.

A clever mix of fact and fiction, this book will inform and entertain. At 132 pages, this little Tudor treasure can be savoured slowly or devoured in one sitting.

Oh, and there’s even a haunted element to add to the originality and magic of this book, but I’ll let you discover it for yourself!

My rating: Five out of five Tudor Roses ☺
Profile Image for Michelle Stockard Miller.
339 reviews153 followers
September 21, 2014
There are a few authors that I count among my favorites in the historical fiction genre and this author is one of them. He has a unique voice in the genre and his books always tell their stories in an interesting and engaging way. In this slim volume, he incorporates fiction alongside non-fiction seamlessly. And he has brought us full circle back to the subject of his excellent novel, Virgin and the Crab...his beloved Elizabeth I.

I think I hearken a kind of kinship with this author due to our mutual love for Elizabeth I. And he really brings what I believe to be her true character to the forefront in this book. Elizabeth loved her men and here we are given biographical accounts of each of these men, followed by a vignette of Elizabeth and each man (and one of the man's wives) interacting. These are short sketches and yet they really bring forward in authenticity what these intimate interactions must have truly been like. Perhaps the genuine article of Elizabeth is best captured in various quotes and passages throughout the book. There were several that I really enjoyed. I will share one of them here:

"Well, I also have a formula of my own, Bess - a very special one concerning how the court of England might survive and function under its present climate. For yes, it is true, inevitably I have about me men who also subdue each day their scheming for my approbation. That is how I have kept the gift of peace for the people of this nation for so many decades. That is my formula. And do you think I do not contemplate the weakness of the argument from time to time, as well? Do you think I do not weigh each day in the balance those forces of right and wrong - of tolerance on the one hand for those who are virtuous, and retribution on the other for those who are evil? Every day I must seek that balance. A thousand eyes see everything I do and judge me. I have no life, no privacy, no joy. And yet because I am a woman, when they come to me, even the most powerful men are tamed. They seek for a moment, instead of gold and riches, the approval of their Gloriana, their Virgin Queen. They wait for a smile or touch of my hand as I pass, and live here in a place where the poet is as worthy as the soldier; where a master of music is as treasured as he who would forge a cannon - and they must lift their snouts from the trough occasionally in order to do so. That is how it works, Bess - the charade and the festival of the Virgin Queen."

This quote completely captures what Elizabeth's reign must truly have been like. It is obvious that Elizabeth held the happiness of her people and the peace of the land in the highest regard over everything else. I always feel that Elizabeth was a keen observer of her father's rule, and the history of his reign. How he jeopardized so much for his personal predilections in the guise of seeking an heir must have appeared to her keen mind a mistake she did not want to make in her own reign. Again, it is these determinations and conclusions the reader is able to make of Elizabeth's mind from reading this excellent volume.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history and historical fiction.
Profile Image for Arleigh.
55 reviews28 followers
July 27, 2014
A unique mixture of fact and fiction, this volume contains 14 short chapters on Queen Elizabeth I’s relationships with the various men in her life—from her cold and distant father to her trusted councilors and, of course, the well-documented round of suitors. While some chapters give a brief history and descriptions of life at court, others are dedicated to a character, including a bio as well as a vignette. These fictionalized short stories display an insightful scene between the Queen and the man in question. Also included is a discussion on what the term “Virgin Queen” meant in Elizabethan times and the significance of the Queen’s astrological sign, Virgo—a link to the author’s full-length novel, Virgin and the Crab. A brief mention of Cecil’s son-in-law, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, piqued my interest, as I lean toward the Oxfordian side of the Shakespeare authorship debate. This is a great resource for those looking for a short but informative read with an unusual twist.
Profile Image for Valerie Christie.
Author 7 books6 followers
July 19, 2014
This is a lovely little book, which looks at the relationships between Queen Elizabeth I and some of the men in her life. It is presented as a series of lectures that took place some years ago over the course of a weekend at an Elizabethan mansion, which the author attended. For each of the men, there is a short biography, followed by a vignette. Each of the men is also given a Tudor Rose rating (marked out of five). I really enjoyed reading this book. The biographies were informative, the vignettes were entertaining and the Tudor Rose ratings were totally frivolous but very charming.
Profile Image for Charla Wilson.
225 reviews36 followers
June 12, 2019
England's most fascinating Queen

The Virgin Queen Elizabeth's story is more interesting to me than her father's story. But, the telling of her story is long and complicated, especially if all of the major players are included. But, this book manages to condense all of the important people and their roles in Elizabeth's life and reign into an easy to read, enjoyable story that you won't want to put down. By getting to know the men in Elizabeth's life, you gain an understanding of Elizabeth that I don't think you can get any other way. This
Profile Image for Bridgett.
61 reviews21 followers
August 4, 2014
When I first got this book in the mail, I thought that the cover was beautiful. It is has a velvet finish and the colors in Elizabeth's clothing are vibrant and lively. They say, “never judge a book by it's cover,” but this particular cover makes me want to open the book almost immediately. I would have to say that the inside definitely matches the outside. The book is thin, but packs a powerful punch. If one wants to know anything about Elizabeth, but doesn't want to spend hours and hours reading, this is the place to start. It is unique and sumptuous.

Elizabeth was a complex person, and not very easy to please, which you think might detour others from wanting to be around her, but this is just not so. Besides the benefit of being close to her, there was something more endearing about her that made men want to compete for her affections. These men in her life played a vital role in English history. Their influence, although quite passive, contributed to keeping peace to the realm just by being at her side. It wasn't just Robert Dudley who loved her, but others who each had their own personality to attract her attentions.

The book starts with the most obvious of men; her father, and then ends with one of the least liked by me; Robert Devereux. After a short biography of each man, there is a fictionalized scene between Elizabeth and himself. The author, in my opinion, is quite brilliant with the way he made the words flow so naturally on the pages. Each scene pulled me in and made me feel as if I were in the same room with Elizabeth, so long ago. He has a knack for being able to make Elizabeth come alive on the pages. His words are what I would imagine in my mind, her exact same words, and her actions the same actions. Forget television, read this book! It is very entertaining, and fast paced. It only took three days to read the book, an hour per sitting.

I like how the author wrote the book as if I were on a weekend tour with him, learning about Elizabeth and her dynamic personality, that was clearly shaped by the men in her life. He even rated each of the men according to his perception of them. They would rate between one Tudor rose to five Tudor roses, five being the highest of admiration. Cute.

By the conclusion of the book, the reader will be well educated on how life at court with Elizabeth would have been. It touches upon all the major points in her life, and clears up any confusion that one might have encountered during a fictional portrayal of Elizabeth. This little book is probably one of my favorites so far, and I have read many Tudor related books. Not only do I like it because it is short, and very detailed, but because the author is meticulous in his research. There were a couple of things that I learned too.

I highly recommend any of Robert's books. They are all wonderful.

Profile Image for Sarah Bryson.
Author 4 books57 followers
March 8, 2017
I will happily admit that from the first sentence of Parry’s book I was absolutely hooked. Parry weaves an utterly fascinating tale which follows the life and adventures of astronomer John Dee.
Parry sets his story during the reign of Queen Mary I and through the character of Dee we learn about the comings and goings of the major players throughout this period in history.

Dee himself is a fascinating character, a man of a thousand disguises who seems to be able to slip in and out of places unnoticed, gathering and feeding information as he goes. Through his adventures the reader learns of the struggle of the young Princess Elizabeth, a woman branded by her mother, the late Anne Boleyn, who suffers harsh treatment under the rule of her half-sister Mary. Elizabeth’s life is ever under threat and it is often up to John Dee and a secret group he is part of to ensure the young Princess remains with a head upon her shoulders! Through the character of John Dee the reader also learns about the type of woman Queen Mary I was and her personal struggles to produce an heir. The reader explores the lives of those that served under Mary, many who had far different ambitions than the Queen and also learns about the common people of England, their struggles and trails as well as the happenings in Europe.

Most of all the reader is introduced to a mysterious group called the Brotherhood of the Rose Lodge of which John Dee is a member of. Throughout Parry’s sory the reader is able to see the members of the group working together, hidden away from watchful eye, to keep the Princess Elizabeth safe all with the goal to see Elizabeth the next heir to the English throne.

This book captured me from the first sentence and I found it utterly fascinating. I was drawn to the chracters, especially to the main player John Dee. Based on the real John Dee who served under Queen Elizabeth I, we learn more about the intimate side of this man, who he was, what he believed in, what he feared, what he cherished. What I utterly adored about Parry’s portrayals of John Dee and the other characters is that as a reader you become quite emotionally attached. Be the character a hero, arrogant, young, old or brash, whatever their personalities you as the reader feel for these characters, you follow their ups and downs. You laugh when they do and you cry when they weep. I really loved how Parry designed and wrote each character so that the reader becomes emotionally invested in them. I feel this gives a greater weight and strength to the overall book.

What I really enjoyed most about this book was Parry’s use of descriptive language. Parry did not simply write a book and present it to the reader, instead he used words to weave such intricate and captivating images which flood the mind and take over the imagination. I utterly adored Parry’s use of language and description in this book and adored the way he seemed to bring the characters, clothes and scenery to life.

Virgin and the Crab is a fantastic book. It’s engaging, exciting and had me on the edge of my seat many times. Even though I knew that Elizabeth Tudor would become Queen I still found myself gasping and worrying over her fate – such is the power of Parry’s writing! A fantastic read and a must have for any Tudor bookshelf!
Profile Image for Amy.
277 reviews6 followers
December 27, 2017
This is a very unique book and unlike any that I have read on the subject of Elizabeth I, which for me to say something like that doesn't happen often! It is an interesting format, too. The author in the preface explains that he took part in a residential retreat which provided lectures regarding the men in Elizabeth I's life. The author, who was proficient at shorthand, was able to record the lectures and has recreated them here in this book.

Many of the men who were part of Elizabeth I's life I was very familiar with, but there were a few who I didn't know much about. The men were: Henry VIII; Thomas Seymour; Robert Dudley; John Dee; Francois, Duke of Alencon; Christopher Hatton, Walter Raleigh, William Cecil, and Robert Devereux. In between were brief chapters about the Qualities of an Elizabethan Courtier, and Was Elizabeth Really a Virgin Queen?

The book gave a brief background about Elizabeth, and then each chapter consisted of factual information regarding the particular man followed by a fictionalized "vignette." The conclusion mentioned 9 other men (her brother, Edward Tudor and Sir Francis Walsingham among them). A very quick and entertaining read.
81 reviews11 followers
April 7, 2018
This slim volume based on a series of lectures is a delightful series of biographical sketches, fictional "Vignettes" based on those sketches and commentary. Easy to read in one sitting, yet with enough information to make it a useful addition to my Tudor book shelf. Thank you, Good Reads, for this giveaway. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Theresa.
141 reviews
March 20, 2016
This was an enjoyable read. The book was written from a 3-day lecture that included a series of short biographical sketches on the men in Elizabeth's life with some fictional vignettes thrown in. Very light, nothing heavy.
February 2, 2015
Very interesting and it filled many blanks from other Tudor historical fiction

I enjoyed further information on the people associated with Queen Elizabeth I. I still want more. I really liked the portraits.
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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