Flashback Friday: The Royal Diaries Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor

by Kathryn Lasky

Since I just finished a book about the War of the Roses, I decided it was fitting to look at my early reading of the next era of English history. This is the book that spurred my obsession with all things Tudor. This is one of the oldest books on my shelf that I refuse to weed. Even if I haven’t reread it in a long time, it has a lot of sentimental value.  I also still sometimes use the brief biography in the back if I need a quick fact for a project, before consulting a heavier source.

What I remember from this book: Hatfield, Elizabeth doing translations, Elizabeth attempting to save Henry VIII and Kathryn Parr’s marriage, playing with Edward, Mary being a bit of a butt as usual, the story of Anne Boleyn on the eve of her arrest pleading with the king by holding up a baby Elizabeth, cameo by Anne of Cleves, the kids being convinced that Kathryn Howard haunts a hallway (they leave out the probably guilty of adultery part of Kathryn and focus on her relation to Anne),and finally Elizabeth and Robert Dudley.

This may have been the book that inadvertently started shipping for me. When I learned that Elizabeth and Robert Dudley did not end up together I was irate. Granted, politically this was probably never a thing. But at the time these royal diaries books were basically real life fairy tales and I wanted my happily ever after. I’m sure Lasky took some liberties with their relationship. Yet, when I learned years later that Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley were imprisoned at the Tower of London at the same time, I allowed my mind to dream of possibilities.

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The Boleyn Deceit

by Laura Andersen

4/5 stars

Earlier this summer I read the first in this series about what would have happened if Anne Boleyn’s son had lived, The Boleyn Inheritance, giving it 3/5 stars. This go-around I knew more what to expect, and so liked it better. Rest assured, this time we are free of the significant time spent in the first book around the creepy Giles as his part was sufficiently ended at the finish of the first book. Plot from the first book does carry over, most importantly Minuette’s interest in Alyce’s death. The plot threads between the two books tie together very nicely, and I do not miss the problematic rapey undertones of the first book.

The characters can still be problematically flat. William is the king. Dominic is loyal to a fault. Minuette is beautiful, and a little too curious for her own good sometimes, but can also be lacking in anything that convincingly lets her into the driver’s seat of this series. Elizabeth is unsurprisingly the most charismatic character, and her relationship with Robert Dudley is just as captivating in this imagining. It as if Andersen is not completely comfortable making them her own. However, The Boleyn Deceit witnesses growth and change from these characters. While I think it could have gone even further, especially with Dominic’s relationship watching his best friend develop into an absolute monarch, it was still incredibly refreshing.

I did miss some of the group dynamics between William, Dominic, Elizabeth and Minuette. Their friendship was fun. While they started to grow apart in the first installment, The Boleyn Deceit witnessed further gulfs appearing between characters. Secrets were prominent, foremost the secret that Dominic and Minuette are in love even as William courts her. Although a twist in this relationship drama at the end prompted a “What made you think that was a good idea” reaction from me. Still, these characters are growing up. It is somewhat sad to watch the inevitable politics pushing in between the friendship. But it also refreshing to see this explored. I am not sure the friendship will survive in tact to the end of the series, and interested to see how this works out. This go around also had some hinted foreshadowing that I am intrigued by, but will leave shrouded in mystery to avoid spoiling anything.

This time I went in knowing what to expect and enjoying the ride. It’s fun playing the game of how one changed detail would impact history. It’s also fun to see how this might impact certain favorites, and I’m excited to see how everything will wrap up.