“I liked the little details added by the author, things like: Princess Elizabeth was “disgusted at Catherin Parr’s sudden remarriage” and the fact that Thomas Seymour as a result, had control of Elizabeth’s lands and income (pp. 31-32); the fact that one of Suffolk’s creditors made his way to the block as Suffolk was about to die to ask how he would get is money (p. 146); the remark that during a plague outbreak in the summer of 1563, Queen Elizabeth moved the court to Windsor. “…anyone suspected of bring the disease….would be hanged”. I thought the book full of fascinating insights such as these although none of these three I mention here (nor many of the others I noted) have any source attributed to them.
The author occasionally jumped out of time and this was annoying but it wasn’t enough to make me hate the book. I was somewhat disappointed there wasn’t more information about Katherine and Mary although this is really not surprising since women rarely got any sort of credit in history unless they had an impact on the times. I think de Lisle did a good job of researching to get this much information but I also think the title of the book should have been subtitled “And Their Impact on their Cousin Queens”. I learned a number of things about Elizabeth I’d been previously unaware of.
The book contained some discrepancies: For example, this sentence referring to Jane’s time as Queen: Her reign had, in fact, lasted just under a fortnight, from Edward’s death on July 6, until her mother’s on the 19th (p.113). I don’t understand the last part of this – her mother did not die for some years so what this means, I have no idea. And in the Grey family tree, Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford’s death date is shown as 1621 but in the Seymour family tree, is noted as a question mark. Just a couple of a number of examples.
Three stars – Although I found the book interesting to read, there were a lot of statements (such as Elizabeth’s desire for the throne to go back to the Scottish element and Cecil’s apparent non-support of Elizabeth) that had no supporting information. Further, in my copy of the book, no footnotes were annotated. There are many notes at the end of the book but you aren’t aware of them until you get there. It would have been good to see what passages were annotated as we went along.