Monday, September 7, 2009

Review: The Virgin's Daughters

Summary: The story of Elizabeth I, as it’s never been told before—through the eyes of two ladies-in-waiting closest to her… In a court filled with repressed sexual longing, scandal, and intrigue, Lady Katherine Grey is Elizabeth’s most faithful servant. When the young queen is smitten by the dashing Robert Dudley, Katherine must choose between duty and desire—as her secret passion for a handsome earl threatens to turn Elizabeth against her. Once the queen becomes a bitter and capricious monarch, another lady-in-waiting, Mistress Mary Rogers, offers the queen comfort. But even Mary cannot remain impervious to the court’s sexual tension—and as Elizabeth gives her doomed heart to the mercurial Earl of Essex, Mary is drawn to the queen’s rakish godson… - NAL

It sure seems like I'm on a historical fiction kick recently; and I have been so lucky because I've read quite a few really good ones. The latest one that I've enjoyed is THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS: IN THE COURT OF ELIZABETH I by Jeane Westin. I admit that I am drawn to books about Queen Elizabeth because I find her life to be fascinating. And while I have read some books about Elizabeth I, this novel had a truly unique perspective. I really enjoyed THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS and the author's particular slant on the Queen's life.

THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS is really two stories about two different women who served Queen Elizabeth on her court -- Lady Katherine Grey and Mistress Mary Rogers. The first half of the book tells about Katherine and her love affair; and the second half of the book takes place almost 40 years later and tells Mary's story. Both women were ladies-in-waiting to Elizabeth and were expected to remain loyal to the queen; however, they both fall deeply in love with men whom they couldn't marry. What I found so interesting was how each woman chose to handle her relationship with the Queen while also handling (and hiding) her love interest.

I definitely appreciated seeing Queen Elizabeth through the relationships she had with her ladies-in-waiting. I thought Ms. Westin portrayed her as a very complex and yet very real character. While the Queen chose to remain unmarried and be the virgin queen, she wasn't without love in her life. She was actually torn between her love for Robert Dudley and her responsibility to the throne. I also liked seeing how she considered the ladies-in-waiting to be her daughters (thus the terrific title of the book.) She loved and protected these women, yet she also expected them to be unconditionally loyal to her.

I read that Ms. Westin was a huge fan of historical fiction before deciding to turn her talents to writing historical fiction. I think she made a very smart move. I thoroughly enjoyed THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS, and it's apparent to me that she understand the Elizabethan time period. I love that she took a character that so many historical fiction fans know and love and decided to tell the story with a fresh eye. I will definitely look forward to reading more of Ms. Westin's works in the future.

I definitely think THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS would make a fascinating discussion book for a book club, especially if your group enjoys historical fiction like mine does. I thought the story was very interesting and the characters were well developed. There is, without a doubt, some very intriguing things to talk about when it comes to the characters and their actions. There are already discussion questions for this book; and I recommend taking a look at them to get an idea of whether this novel is suited to your group. In addition, Ms. Westin makes herself available to book club groups for speakerphone interviews.

I think those of you who enjoy historical fiction, and especially Tudor books, are definitely going to appreciate THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS. It is not only a unique perspective on Queen Elizabeth and her court, but it is also a book filled with multiple stories about love and loyalty. I highly recommend it.

Make sure you come back tomorrow because Ms. Westin has answered some of my questions, and I'll be giving away two copies of THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS.


Beth Kephart said...

I love that you are loving historical fiction. When done well, it can feel as urgent and contemporary as any present-day book, I find.

bermudaonion said...

I've enjoyed the historical fiction that I've read, but I haven't tried any of the Tudor books yet. Great review.

Beth F said...

I love the Tudors and Elizabeth, so this one was already on my wish list. I'm so glad it's worth reading.

I love HF, I just haven't been reading much of it lately.

Caffey said...

I remember reading some of Ms. Westen's historical romances! So great to see she has books out again! Historical Fiction is more newer for me. I love reading the historical information in historical romances and I was recommended to read the historical fiction. I've read a couple and love them! I have so much to learn about the Tutors and Elizabeth so I'm excited about this book! I'm looking forward to the interview too! You do beautiful reviews that really give what I'm looking for to find about about the book to read. Thanks!

Book Escape said...

I haven't read a Tudor novel for awhile. This one sounds great. I'm going to search it out now!

Anna said...

I haven't read any Tudor books, but I'll keep this one in mind. Thanks for the review!

Diary of an Eccentric

S. Krishna said...

I thought this book was wonderful as well. I loved her portrayal of Elizabeth too, thought it was very unique! Nice review.