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British History

I am the first to admit that I am a Royalist. One of my daughters is an avid Royalist as well. I guess it stems from my father and grandparents on my mother’s side all being born in England.

My first taste of reading about the English kings and queens was a book originally written in 1944 by Margaret Irwin called “Young Bess”.

This was a wonderful book which totally captured my imagination and left me wanting to know more about this amazing daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and the times in which she lived. My daughter has found some wonderful books by Philippa Gregory which are fascinating page turners from the get go.

Philippa has written several books about this time in history and they are all wonderful. Rich in description of the times, court life and I love her development of the characters.

Right now I am happily reading The Virgin’s Lover and have just finished The Queen’s Fool. Other books by Philippa Gregory are The Bolelyn Inheritance, The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl (another one of my favorites), Meridon, Wideacre, Earthly Joys, Virgin Earth and A Respectable Trade.

I have always loved the rich pomp and pageantry of England but I must admit the 1500’s were a very dangerous time to live. One could be at the pinnacle at one moment and with a wrong word or gesture find themselves in the Tower awaiting the building of the scaffolding for their execution.

Philippa Gregory makes you fall in love with the depth of her characters and, of course, the stories are much more interesting as they are, for the most part, based on fact.

Her description of court life is wonderful and paints a clear picture for you of what gaiety could be enjoyed or what sadness endured. Intrigue and duplicity are rampant and one would do well to trust no one as everyone seemed to have their own agenda.

The fight between the Catholic Church and the Protestants is also front and center. Elizabeth I thought everyone should be able to worship as they choose which bordered on heresy. Her predecessor and half –sister, Queen Mary took a different view and burned everyone who did not adopt Catholicism.

Philippa Gregory does not paint anyone in her books as all good or all bad which I think is fair. However, these were very difficult times to live or to prove your right to the throne. I applaud the young fiery daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Bolelyn who became a formidable Queen.

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