Elizabeth and Mary : Cousins, Rivals, Queens
Elizabeth and Mary Cousins Rivals Queens Author:Jane Dunn The political and religious conflicts between Queen Elizabeth I and the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots, have for centuries captured our imagination and inspired memorable dramas played out on stage, screen, and in opera. But few books have brought to life more vividly than Jane Dunn’s Elizabeth and Mary the exquisite texture of two wom... more »en’s rivalry, spurred on by the ambitions and machinations of the forceful men who surrounded them. The drama has terrific resonance even now as women continue to struggle in their bid for executive power.
Against the backdrop of sixteenth-century England, Scotland, and France, Dunn paints portraits of a pair of protagonists whose formidable strengths were placed in relentless opposition. Protestant Elizabeth, the bastard daughter of Anne Boleyn, whose legitimacy had to be vouchsafed by legal means, glowed with executive ability and a visionary energy as bright as her red hair. Mary, the Catholic successor whom England’s rivals wished to see on the throne, was charming, feminine, and deeply persuasive. That two such women, queens in their own right, should have been contemporaries and neighbours sets in motion a joint biography of rare spark and page-turning power.« less
Diane B. reviewed Elizabeth and Mary : Cousins, Rivals, Queens on
Helpful Score: 2
An amazing dual biography, really puts into perspective Elizabeth and Mary's relationship as cousins, reigning queens, and rivals for the throne of England. Neither biography alone adds anything new to either's history, but side-by-side Dunn's book is powerful in evoking just how difficult their situations were and how each responded and either triumphed or failed. One tends to forget the poweful pull of Roman Catholicism during Elizabeth's reign, and how tenuous her claim to the throne of England was outside her country. Mary's claim was equally strong, but Elizabeth's own wit and the cunning of her advisors was stronger.
This is a great biography of two great women of British history, but it is not a truly fair biography. It has an Elizabethan slant. The author clearly leans in the favour of Elizabeth in her telling of the story. She can be rather derogatory of Mary sometimes and while she does present the facts, she mostly puts a negative spin on the things that Mary does that Elizabeth and England did not agree with. This again is a nice biography that compares the two queens side by side, but it does clearly lean in favour of Elizabeth.