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Young Bess (Elizabeth Trilogy #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,387 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Margaret Irwin's great trilogy of novels about the life of 'Good Queen Bess', Elizabeth I, begins with her childhood. At three, her mother, Anne Boleyn, is executed for adultery, incest and witchcraft, Elizabeth declared a bastard and banished from her father's Court. She is restored by Henry VIII's last wife, Katherine Parr, who, after the King's death, marries Tom Seymou ...more
Published 1952 by The Vanguard Library (first published 1944)
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Whether as a child or as an adult; the life of Queen Elizabeth I was quite interesting and dramatic, to say the least. Margaret Irwin begins her Elizabeth Trilogy following the future Gloriana as a young teen aging both physically and mentally in, “Young Bess”.

Irwin’s writing strikes the reader with instant literary tones in the realm of flowery descriptions, symbolism, and vivid imagery. This captures the reader without turning “Young Bess” into a fluff piece by focusing ardently on historical
I don't have the right to rate this book for I did not even make it to the half of the story line.
This book was not bad I actually loved it but due to personal circumstances I suddenly lost the desire to finish this book for it had became the symbol of poignant memories . I would highly recommend this book for those who love to read historical fiction most especially those books that focuses on the Tudor period.
Nov 30, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really cannot fathom why people are giving this book such high reviews. I love historical fiction, I love the Tudors, but something about this book just didn't jive with me. To be honest I found it very dry - most of it is telling, not showing. There's very little meaningful conversation and there's no real personal connection to anyone in the text.

There are great big passages where it talks about the plots that are happening but it's always from a distance- we don't see the conversations pla
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA Readers
Young Bess is the first in a trilogy Margaret Irwin wrote on the life of Elizabeth Tudor and begins towards the end of Henry VIII's life during his marriage to Catherine Parr. Upon Henry's death Bess goes to live with the widowed Catherine who soon marries the new King's uncle Tom Seymour - but was Catherine really Tom's first choice for a bride or would he have preferred to marry the young princess to further his own ambitions? Bess is barely on the cusp of womanhood and Tom's *flirtations* beg ...more
Maia B.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of history or of Elizabeth I
Shelves: historical
It's difficult to know what to say about this book. It's marvelously done - well researched, beautifully written, full of sharp wit that Margaret Irwin employs to her benefit. But it's also a little too long, at times a little too dull, and it also employs a simply enormous cast of characters, all of whom share four or five names: Mary, Catherine, Jane, Thomas, and Edward. And Elizabeth, of course. Add a Henry and you've got the entire dramatis personae right in front of you, minus their roles.

Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From my blog...
Exquisitely written, well researched, with intense and vivid imagery, Young Bess The Girl Who Would Be Queen is an absolutely amazing beginning of what promises to be a spectacular trilogy chronicling the life of Queen Elizabeth. Margaret Irwin has such a brilliant command of this time period, the reader is immediately transported back in time to the end of King Henry VIII's rule as a young Bess has moved in with the newly widowed Catherine Parr and her new husband Thomas Seymour
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From my blog...[return]Exquisitely written, well researched, with intense and vivid imagery, Young Bess The Girl Who Would Be Queen is an absolutely amazing beginning of what promises to be a spectacular trilogy chronicling the life of Queen Elizabeth. Margaret Irwin has such a brilliant command of this time period, the reader is immediately transported back in time to the end of King Henry VIII's rule as a young Bess has moved in with the newly widowed Catherine Parr and her new husband Thomas ...more
May 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a reprint; the book was originally written in 1944. Elizabeth I is one of my favorite historical figures and I have done quite a bit of reading about her - but most of it is from the time after she ascended to the throne. It was very interesting to read a book that takes you back to the time when she was still a child. Before she became the political genius and great Queen of England.

The book was easy to read and is very detailed as to its period and time. My only issue is that at time i
Haley Mathiot
Jan 11, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While I was reading this book I had my moments where I was thinking “this is nice…this is cute…” the writing was very eloquent and good. However the plot was just… nonexistent. By page 85 not much had happened. I had no urge to continue reading and even though I enjoyed it while I was reading it, I had to force myself to sit down and read it. And you should never have to force yourself to read a book (except for school). I felt the same way about The Midnight Charter. Both of these were similar ...more
Kim Kaso
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in 1944, but it can hold its own with most of the books about the reign of the Tudors that are popular today. She does not write quite as salaciously about matters sexual as Philippa Gregory did in The Other Boleyn Girl, but she makes Thomas Seymour's pursuit of the young Princess Elizabeth while married to her pregnant step-mother, Katherine Parr, quite clear. Here is a man who definitely wants his cake while voraciously eating it at the same time. Katherine Parr survived ...more
Elizabeth  (Thoughts From an Evil Overlord)
Margaret Irwin's Young Bess introduces us to an Elizabeth rarely written about. Opening when she is twelve years old, readers meet an intelligent, strong-willed child who has been reunited with her father through the auspices of his Queen, Catherine Parr. Loving and admiring her father, Bess, like any other child has been hurt by his refusal to see her for several years, and is mistrustful of his words and actions. The constancy of her governess, Mrs. Ashley is all she has had until this marriag ...more
This book focuses on the young Elizabeth (from aged 12 to 19) and her fiery relationship with Tom Seymour. It is a bit confused at first as to whether it is teaching people the history of the royal children or telling the story; the history textbook feel is added to by the fact that some phrases are lifted from historical documents and letters. It feels like the author is showing off her research a little too much. I was a little surprised at just how floral the prose was until I realised it was ...more
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You have read the stories about Queen Anne and King Henry but what about Princess Elizabeth? In Young Bess, the first book in the Elizabeth I trilogy, readers learn about Elizabeth “Bess” and her life after her mother’s death. Bess does not have much love for he father, the King. In fact you could say she will not be heart broken when he dies. Bess strikes up a romantic interlude with her step-mother, Catherine Parr’s husband, Tom Seymour. She and Tom are playing a dangerous game. Though, who is ...more
Felicia Empey
This fits into the category of 'Historical Fiction Done Right' because of the research however the multiple viewpoints/exposition on the part of the different characters got a little annoying. I would have preferred it to be more from Elizabeth's POV since it is about her. I don't care what the Duke of Somerset is thinking with regard to his wife... I do want to know more about the conflicting feelings Elizabeth has towards Tom, technically he's taking advantage of her but she wants it but doesn ...more
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Am revisiting this book from when I read it in fourth grade which started my interest in Elizabeth I. Must confess, I am not sure how much was absorbed at that age as it is a much more sophisticated structure than I remembered. Written as a 'novel' the book does keep to the facts with some embellishments (not bad enough that this history teacher would fear readers would come away with incorrect views).
Felt that the last quarter of the text spent too much time away from Elizabeth but do understan
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very engaging. This was billed as YA historical fiction, but I think it addresses more adult themes than YA, but at the same time doesn't focus on the gruesome or pornographic parts of history. I appreciated reading a book that could address violence and sex without making me flinch, and also without making it seem like it had ignored or left out the harshness of that time in history.

Historical fiction, following Elizabeth I from age 12 (?) to age 17. There are two more books in the series which
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My aunt sent me this series. This is the first one. I had moments of enjoyment but found it a bit dry. Also, it seemed odd that so much time was spent developing certain scenes and characters and then the final chapter was a quick recap of ensuing betrayal and executions. It was as if the author had to finish up the novel in order to meet a deadline. I will probably read the rest of the series, simply because this historical family has always fascinated me. Hopefully the other two installments a ...more
This took me much longer to get through than I thought it would. At times it read like a history text, giving me mountains of information about the events happening around Young Bess, rather than telling me more about her feelings. I suppose that's that hardest thing about historical novels where the focus is on a known historical figure; the author has to tread carefully between what we know from written documents and paintings, and what the writer can infer from small clues that may or may not ...more
I read this too long ago to remember much about it except that I liked it at the time.
I'm not sure how it would go over today since most fiction readers can't seem to get through a book unless the angst and "romance" is off the charts and the whole thing is written in first person present like a Twitter feed. Irwin often wrote flowery descriptions and tended to take her time unraveling the story. Personally, I preferred Margaret Campbell Barnes' novels, but this Young Bess series was quite popu
Karin Pearson
Not as good as I hoped. Probably the most annoying thing was Anne Boylene being referred to as 'Nan Bullen'.
Feb 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Young Bess is a story that is familiar to many Tudor fans, as it focuses on Tudor times that surrounded Elizabeth I as she was growing up. Although this is a historical novel, I found it full of interesting facts regarding the important players of the time, but it was written in such a way that it felt like Margaret was right here telling us the story as she knew it. Originally written in 1944, I didn't find the prose too outdated, except for a few mentions of the word 'gay' which has now been t ...more
Laura Jane
The first in a trilogy about the early life of Queen Elizabeth I and the perilous nature of her existence as a royal princess who skillfully manages to keep herself alive and eventually fulfil her personal sense of destiny to become Queen of England.

The book introduces us to Elizabeth as a young girl of 13 who is living in the shadow of her dead mother, Anne Boleyn, and as a result is already astute and watchful of the political machinations of courtiers and the Privy Council in the last days o
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book on the early life of Elizabeth I during her Brothers reign and the intrigue she shared with The Admiral. I found that the book was written in an engaging and believable way with a lot of historical content. It was obviously meticulously researched.

I especially enjoyed the working in of the popular rumours that have surrounded the time without presenting them as facts but still allowed the reader access to some theories of that period of time.

I found myself quie
Mar 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Young Bess is a historical fiction novel about Elizabeth I during her young years from age twelve before her father’s death through her brother Edward’s reign until his death when she was a young lady of twenty. I love reading about Elizabeth’s I life and am looking forwarding to continuing this trilogy by Margaret Irwin.

I often felt while I was reading this book that it should have been called “The Seymour Brothers.” The novel often was centered on the scheming of Tom Seymour, the handsome adm
Good start to the great trilogy.

Although depiction of some things bothered me a little (I really think that Elizabeth was much more less in love - if in love at all - with Thomas Seymour than novelists usually portray it and much more aware of him using her), still Irwin's characters come to life and eventually it is enjoyable read.

P.S. I disagree with readers who said that this is YA fiction. If lack of sex scenes in novel means YA fiction then most of classics is YA fiction. This novel present
Why I read this: I love historical fiction and have been fascinated with this time period for quite some time.

Plot: This novel follows the life of the daughter of Anne Boelyn - Elizabeth. The plot felt slow moving most of the time - the history buildup at the beginning felt a little overdone and more like a history book. The whole book read a little more like a history book told through a story but livened up after 50 pages in.

Characters: You definitely get into the head of Bess and how like Ann
Mar 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this 3.5 stars.
Young Elizabeth Tudor lives in the shadow of her infamous mother, Anne Boleyn. Declared a bastard and banished from her father's court, young princess Elizabeth has become adept at dodging the constant political games and royal whims that ensure her situation is never secure.

After Henry VIII's death, Elizabeth is taken in by the king's last wife, Katherine Parr, and Katherine's new husband, Tom Seymour. But handsome Tom is playing for higher stakes. Marrying a widowed
Helene Harrison
Review - Not a brilliant telling of the story, but one of the better ones. It is interesting to read about Elizabeth's early life, particularly before the death of her father, Henry VIII, even a fictional retelling, as you don't know how much of it is actually true. It'll be interesting to see how the story continues and how Margaret Irwin deals with the Lady Jane Grey crisis and Elizabeth's imprisonment in the Tower.

Genre - Historical / Drama

Characters - Elizabeth I / Edward VI / Henry VIII / M
This is about the youth of Elizabeth I.
Declared a bastard after her mother is
executed, she is restored to her rightful place
by Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII.
Then the King dies. Katherine marrieds her live,
Thomas Seymour but Thomas has secret ambitions for
power. He begins by befriending Edward VI and then
attempting to seduce the fourteen year old Elizabeth
putting both of them in peril of their lives.
Elizabeth, lively, flirtatious, precociously intelligent
and acutely intuitive outsmarts
Helen Azar
Jan 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part 1 of the Princess Elizabeth trilogy (Part 2: "Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain" and Part 3: "Elizabeth the Captive Princess" Excellent writing style and accurate historically. One of the best fictional portrayals of Elizabeth as princess. Irwin is definitely up there in historical novels!
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Feb 14, 2015 11:27AM  
  • Her Mother's Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor
  • The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I
  • No Will But His: A Novel of Kathryn Howard
  • The Thistle and the Rose (Tudor Saga, #8)
  • Plain Jane
  • The Concubine
  • My Lady of Cleves: A Novel of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves
  • The Queen's Governess
  • Vengeance Is Mine: A Novel Of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, And Lady Rochford  The Woman Who Helped Destroy Them Both
  • Secrets of the Tudor Court (Tudor Court #1)
  • The Queen's Lady (Thornleigh, #1)
  • Pale Rose of England: A Novel of the Tudors
  • To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Ladies in Waiting, #1)
  • Dear Heart, How Like You This?
  • The Queen's Handmaiden
Born in 1899 and educated at Oxford, Irwin was recognized as a novelist of well-researched and occasionally heart-breaking historical fiction. She is best known for her trilogy about Elizabeth I: Young Bess, Elizabeth Captive Princess, and Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain. Young Bess was made into a movie starring Jean Simmons.

Irwin also wrote passionately about the English Civil War, causing gen
More about Margaret Irwin...

Other Books in the Series

Elizabeth Trilogy (3 books)
  • Elizabeth, Captive Princess (Elizabeth Trilogy, #2)
  • Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain (Elizabeth Trilogy, #3)