Book Review of The Queen's Handmaiden

The Queen's Handmaiden
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Helpful Score: 2


This book tells the story of Eloise Rousell, a handmaiden to the woman who would one day become Queen Elizabeth I of England (most of the book takes place before she is queen, which I hadn't expected going into the book). Although Eloise is fictional (or at least I could find no real account of her through minimal research), many of the other characters in the story, including Eloise's aunt Kat Ashley the governess of Elizabeth, are based on real people. Eloise was the daughter of a wealthy gentlewoman and a traveling actor. Once her mother remarried a man of her own class, Eloise was sent to live with her Aunt Kat, the governess of Princess Elizabeth. Since Eloise and Elizabeth were nearly the same age, Elizabeth takes to confiding in Eloise her secrets and desires, knowing that Eloise isn't likely to tell anyone due to her relatively low, nearly invisible social standing compared to her other ladies. This allows the reader to get a bit of insight into what Elizabeth's thoughts and motives might have been during landmark events in her life, such as the incident with Thomas Seymour and her relationship with Robert Dudley. Eloise eventually becomes Elizabeth's seamstress, a position with allows her to be at the center of many historical events as they play out in the story. This book is filled with deception, intrigue, some romance, and detailed accounts of fashion. I rather enjoyed this story, even though Eloise Rousell was not someone at the center of all these events in reality, but again, she does act as a good sounding board for Elizabeth, so the reader can find perhaps why certain events unfolded the way they did. All-in-all, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about the Tudors.