This week I am waiting for: The Marriage Game by Alison Weir
(the sequel to The Lady Elizabeth, will be published in the U.K. on 26th June 2014)
The sequel to The Lady Elizabeth
Their affair is the scandal of Europe. From the time of her accession in 1558, the young Elizabeth I – already reinventing herself as the Virgin Queen – and her dashing but married Master of Horse, Lord Robert Dudley, cast caution to the winds in pursuing their passion for each other. Many believe them to be lovers in the fullest sense, and Elizabeth soon becomes aware of rumours that she is no virgin at all, and that she has secretly borne Lord Robert children.
The young Queen is regarded by most of Christendom as a bastard, a heretic and a usurper, yet many princes seek her hand in marriage. Knowing her hold on her throne to be desperately insecure, Elizabeth encourages them in order to keep them friendly towards England. And thus she plays what becomes known as ‘the marriage game’, appearing seriously to entertain these suitors while holding them off indefinitely. The truth is that she has no inclination to marry, bear children or render herself subservient to any man. The prospect of marriage is anathema to her, and she has deep and compelling psychological reasons for wishing to avoid it. It is the game of love that is the breath of life to her - the thrill of the chase, the lure of forbidden fruit. She plays this dangerous, tantalizing game with Lord Robert Dudley – but it is a game, she realizes - almost too late, that could ultimately cost her the throne.
For Robert is the son and grandson of traitors, and his growing intimacy with Elizabeth makes him deeply unpopular: he is distrusted by her more sober ministers – notably William Cecil - and resented by her courtiers, who think him inordinately ambitious, unscrupulous – and worse.
The notorious affair between Dudley and the Queen quickly gives rise to rampant speculation throughout Christendom that she is determined to marry him, and even that they are plotting the murder of Robert's sick wife, Amy. There is universal shock when Amy is found dead, lying at the foot of a staircase with her neck broken.
In telling the captivating, tempestuous, often hilarious and ultimately poignant story of this most extraordinary love affair, and the political intrigues and marriage negotiations that surrounded it, I have delved into the various mysteries that encompass Elizabeth’s relationship with Dudley.
Did they or didn`t they? Rivers of ink have been spilt in determining the answer to this question, and as a historian I have my own strong views about it – not necessarily those that prevail in The Lady Elizabeth! In The Marriage Game, Elizabeth has reinvented herself as the Virgin Queen, but Robert Dudley is determined to overcome her fears of intimacy and become her lover, if not her husband. The other crucial issue is, of course, the fate of Amy Robsart, and this novel offers a dramatized version of my own theory.
It is a book packed with all the colour and splendour of the Tudor court – and a story played out amidst the most famous events of the Elizabethan age, culminating with the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. It is a poignant tale of love and loss, focusing on the highs and lows of Elizabeth`s long affair with Dudley and the dynamics that enabled it to last for so long. A wealth of source material has enabled me to bring Elizabeth, that feisty, formidable, witty and mercurial woman, to life – and to get inside her head and relive this most extraordinary and controversial of royal love affairs.
What are you waiting for?