Rating: 3 Stars
If you have ever read any of my past reviews, you might know that I am no great fan of Elizabeth I. While I do understand and acknowledge that she is among the most successful of monarchs, I am wholly unimpressed with her woe-is-me behavior in regards to her favorites and the handling of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.
This does not mean, however, that I do not find value in books written about her. I still enjoy reading about the Tudor Dynasty, even if I am not fond of all the monarchs who reigned in that time.
The greatest strength of this short volume is the multiple uses of contemporary sources. In all, there are twenty documents that give readers a glimpse into the life of Elizabeth, four centuries on. The majority of these documents are letters to or from the queen at various points in her life. Each was first accompanied with a summary of the item, the full text following that, and then a photocopy of at least a portion of the original document. I found these most fascinating and could leaf through pages of parchment for hours.
In addition these primary sources, there book is filled with photographs from the period, giving faces to the numerous names that can sometimes be hard to keep straight. These really make the story and give life to the important players from that time. An additional resource at the end of the text is a 'Who's Who', which will be just as helpful for those who are new to the dynasty, as well as a chronology of events in Elizabeth's life and a solid list of 'further readings.'
So while this is a short review, I believe it is fitting for this short, succinct volume outlining the life of Elizabeth I. While I do not necessarily agree with all 'facts' as presented (some things will forever be up for debate), the text does its job for its purpose. The author states from the beginning it is not his intention to give an in-depth analysis of her reign. If that is what you are looking for, this volume will be disappointing. If you are looking for an overview, however, and want something that will not be overwhelming, give this one a try.