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on November 25, 2005
Although new to this author I've read a few of her earlier works and truly enjoyed her take on historical figures and the stories she created around them. With that said I feel that Ms. Gregory's latest effort "The Virgin's Lover" although entertaining was a tad of a let down. Perhaps due to the fact that it's a story about Queen Elizabeth and there are so many preconceived ideas about this amazing woman that creating a story for her cheats the reader.
The story revolves around the love triangle of the young queen Elizabeth, Robert Dudley, and Dudley's wife Amy. There was always a connection between Elizabeth and Robert that neither could admit to or act on. Despite this their relationship grows, changes and although Elizabeth loves Robert she draws the line at allowing him to rule as King. She'd rather he rule as Queen's Consort. On the otherside of this coin is Robert and his wife Amy. Amy is a Catholic and although she practices in secret a divorce from Robert is not in the cards. Elizabeth feeling torn turns to her trusted advisor William Cecil looking for help. Cecil has no love for Dudley and he knows that it would be bad policy if he was made King. But he is more concerned with the fact that the Dudley family historically has participated in treasonous activities and that Roberts love for Elizabeth may not be the best thing for the young queen. After all an ambitious man will do almost anything to see that he gets what he want's. When love, a countries best interests, and a secret meet...nothing good can come from it. What will Elizabeth do when faced with this situation and William Cecil's plans to put it to rest?
Historically speaking it's difficult to put twists and turns on events that truly happened. The creativity then come from the concept of "what if..." and I feel that this is where Ms. Gregory started her plotting. This is a fantistical love triangle that truly existed. Robert Dudley was the Queens favorite and this is historically understood. Perhaps this is why this story fell flat. No matter how hard you just can't re-write history. Ms. Gregory though does an amazing job of bringing to life, the court, the time period, and her characters Robert and Elizabeth. The reader will truly feel the angst of this love triangle. Come to this read with an open mind and the reader should do just fine. Forget what you were taught and just enjoy this work of fiction as it stands.
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on May 20, 2007
This is the third Philippa Gregory novel that I have read. While I found it entertaining, it seemed watered down. I see Elizabeth I as a strong, larger than life character. It seems that Gregory sees her as a weak female who couldn't make decisions for herself. She was portrayed more as a men's puppet than a queen in her own right. I much preferred Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 20, 2008
This novel addresses another fascinating aspect of the Tudor Court drama. The Elizabethan enigma left us with an unsolved crime of passion that shocked a nation through history.

At the time of Queen Mary's death, the young princess had yet to act in a significant role on the great stage of England. The plotting of other legitimate heirs and powerful bishops who fear the return of Protestant rigors and Henry's rules leave Elizabeth beset by treachery on all sides. Left with few resources to protect her position and only a few trusted counselors (William Cecil and Robert Dudley) helping her rule the country.

Cecil is a devoted man who believes England should remain in the hands of the Protestant Queen. The ambitious Dudley is constantly looking for court favors and is a childhood friend hopelessly in love with her. This poses a critical impediment, Robert Dudley is married to Amy Robsart an unassuming woman waiting patiently for his return.

Elizabeth and Dudley's romance fills the court full of intrigues, whispers, gossip and treachery while the country is on the brink of war. Problems are compounded when Amy is found dead sending Elizabeth and Robert into a struggle for survival.

This romantic historically based fiction depicts the notorious love affairs of royalty. Ms Gregory brings her main characters and events to life by covering an abundance of period details with a wonderful blend of fantasy and fact. Robert is painted as a ruthless and manipulative man with the ultimate goal of obtaining power. Elizabeth is an emotional and indecisive sovereign torn between country and love, Amy an outcast is an innocent and a resolute individual languishing with a broken heart for her husband's return.

This cross between a love story and a murder mystery presents a rich tapestry of a country torn apart by religious wrangling, poverty and one that is titillated with royal scandals. It is history brought to live in a very entertaining way.
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on July 15, 2009
First things first. I recommend you read The Queen's Fool before reading this one. It contains a bit background information and a bit of a foundation to carry you over to The Virgin's Lover. It's not necessary but it's nice to have that extra bit of info in the small moments where the book makes a reference to the past. Besides, The Queen's Fool was a good book so why would you not want to read it? :)

There's plenty of intrigue and double crossing in here, so if you're really into that this is the book for you. I love that stuff. I love seeing characters you don't like get the axe because they were too careless and got double crossed. It's just so satisfying. Which brings me to this other point.

I hate Robert Dudley.

Everything about him made me want to grind my teeth, made me want to jump into the book and punch him in the gonads, or made me want to run a lance into him. I just can't stand the guy. He oozes sliminess and his ambition is just way over the top it made you want to roll your eyes and slap him across the head with a sledgehammer. His arrogance made me want to scream. He was all right at first but once you saw past his true colors you just wanted to curl your lip in disgust at the guy. Either I need serious help, or Ms. Gregory just did a wonderful job at character development and creation here. :P I have never hated a character so much until I came across Robert Dudley.

Amy (Dudley's wife) made you want to cringe because she was everything you didn't want her to be. She was the epitome of submissive wife. There were moments where she finally grew a backbone (and you had to cheer for her during those times) but you just can't help but pity the poor woman. Of all the characters in the book I sympathized with Amy the most. It was just painful to see her pain and suffering and the way she fawned at Dudley made you want to pity her, but at the same time be quite disgusted with her. She admirable though. She put up with a lot of issues and crap for that time.

It's hard to decide how I feel about Elizabeth. She's whiny. She's NEEDY. She's clingy. She nearly made me want to jab something in my eye. However there were moments where I thought "Heeeey..she's not so stupid after all!" so it's very hard to see Elizabeth in a different view than what you usually see (usually as a very strong character who defied the Spanish Armada). So I thought it was difficult to like her in this novel. I was on the fence with her.

Overall, I thought it was a good read. There are romantic parts but not that explicit and quickly done and over with. So to me, they were tolerable. No battle scenes here which was unfortunate but wasn't really the main part of the subject anyway (this book rather focuses on Dudley and Elizabeth). The intrigue of court life was here as usual (all of Gregory's novels have it) so that was good to see. I just really enjoyed the character development and creation in this book.
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on December 31, 2007
I would like to say that sometimes I do like Phillipa Gregory's books. I really do. But the way she portrayed Elizabeth in this novel was immensely disappointing to me. I thought her portrayal in The Queens Fool was leading to a good, non-conventional portrayal of Elizabeth. And then I read this book.

The Elizabeth in the Virgin's Lover is not all that smart. She is not self-sufficient. There is nothing in her character to suggest that she could rule a country on her own when the world was run by men. She is a weak, desperate woman who can't do anything if Robin Dudley isn't with her every minute of the day.

And Robin! Why does he have to be so power hungry? There is very little inkling in his character that he loves Elizabeth deeply, or even really cares about her beyond sex! All he cares about is being King!

Realistically I know that Robin must have had some aspirations to be king, but as a hopeless romantic I'd desperately wanted this novel to a more supportive version of the famous Elizabeth/Dudley romance. Instead it just made me feel sad and hopeless that their much celebrated relationship was anything more than a political ploy by an overly ambitious man.
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on July 24, 2011
Many people are saying don't compare this to actual history. Well, Gregory has taken as much information as possible that we know to be true, and turned that information into amazing stories with strong, loveable (or hateable) characters. Everytime i finish one of her books I go straight to the computer and wikipedia the main characters because i'm just the fascinated by them.

anyways, I couldn't put this book down. All day at work I kept thinking I can't wait to read my book! I pretty much turned into a grama. Instead of going out saturday night, i finished my book instead. And suprising enough, this wasn't even my favourite Gregory book. I wanted to punch the characters in the face.
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on February 12, 2009
Although I enjoyed reading this book, it was far cry from the information I've read about Elizabeth. To me Elizabeth was a significant ruler because of her independence, her drive to succeed and being able to do so as women, in a time when that was uncommon.Needless to say I was a little disapointed as to how the book protrayed Elizabeth. She was made out be a weak,easy manipulated child. Other than that it was well written and an easy read as always with Philippa Gregory. If this is your first Philippa Gregory, don't stop she has a lot of great stuff. Check out the Other Boleyn Girl and the Queen's fool for starters.
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on August 17, 2015
First book of this author I did not enjoy. At places overly long winded
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on May 7, 2015
Good read. History is definitely not boring when written by Philippa!
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on February 4, 2016
Couldn't put it down !
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