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Once again Elizabeth Fremantle fails to impress.Penelope Devereux, the sister to Robert, led a very exciting life during the Renaissance reign of Elizabeth I and I ve tried to read every book I could find about her.With such riches from which to mine when writing this book, Fremantle s characters never come alive and the book is never exciting.For new readers just discovering this subject I imagine it would be a very exciting read. I liked that this was about completely different members of the Tudor Mess.Still this dragged in places and was too romantic for me.
For many of us history buffs, the story of the Earl of Essex is well known, but not so much the story of his older sister , Penelope The author of this book expressed her desire to adhere to historical fact whenever possible, but she often had to resort to conjecture because so much is not known Having said that, I finished this book having developed great respect for the courage for this great lady of the Elizabethan age She had guts for sure She lived life by her rules I also realized I have one of the author s redirects on my shelf here at home to read, The Lady Penelope The Lost Tale of Love and Politics in the Court of Elizabeth I by Sally Varlow I m excited to read a bio about her to get a historically accurate account of her life. This was another great read by Elizabeth Freemantle This time she delves into the later years of the reign of Elizabeth I by telling the story of Penelope Devereux, lady in waiting to Elizabeth and sister of Elizabeth s favorite of the time the second Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux.What I loved most about this novel was how the author was able to create the atmosphere of backbiting and jealously in Elizabeth s court The rivalry between Robert Devereux and Robert Cecil son of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, and later Earl of Salisbury under James I was vicious at times The novel was full of intrigue and conspiracy and yet not to the point of conjecture on the author s part, keeping this novel s foot holding firmly in the historical fiction pool and not in it s subgenre of historical mystery Not that I don t love a good historical mystery but often they can favor speculation and hyperbole over fact and as the author states at the book of this novel I have adhered closely to historical fact Penelope Devereux is a fascinating character and what I particularly enjoyed was that the author did not concentrate solely on her being the inspiration for Sir Phillip Sidney s Astrophel and Stella sonnet series Yes Sir Phillip is in the novel but it is the later years of Penelope s life that make for the most interesting read She had a sharp mind and a keenness for politics She was in contact with James VI of Scotland long before he became James I of England She was part of her brother s rebellion of 1601, although to what extent we can only speculate It is very interesting that Penelope was the only person on the list of rebels given to the Queen that did not face trial.Overall I found this to be a compelling and enjoyable read The characters were well developed and the content thought provoking It was interesting to see the outsider portrayal of the later years of Elizabeth s reign I have read a lot of historical fiction about the earlier years, but there does not seem to be as much about the years leading up to her death Although this novel somewhat puts you in the Devereux camp I still found Elizabeth s story to be quite saddening in the end. What a wonderful book A fascinating look at the last 15 years or so of Elizabeth I s reign, a time that rarely receives attention, focusing on charismatic siblings and Elizabeth s favourites Penelope Devereux and the Earl of Essex. Watch the lady watch and waitLord Cecil admonishes his overeager sonWater hollows a stone, not by force but by falling often The lady in question is Penelope Devereux, a descendant of Mary Boleyn and therefore related to Queen Elizabeth I, and the object of Robert Cecil s wrath as he tries to thwart her and her brother Essex, convinced as he is that they are traitors to the Queen And plot and prod, they do, incessantly, inexorably, with dizzying highs succeeding dismal lows, the wheel of political power forever turning and churning, with Cecil at the top, then the Devereux back again, in a court intrigue that takes years until its catastrophic culminationI appreciate Elizabeth Fremantle s research and effort to bring to life an unjustly obscured footnote in history as seems to be the case with most female historical figures They have been either ignored or vilified for the most part Penelope Devereux is after all the inspiration of poet Philip Sidney who was the foremost poet of his day, dedicating his Stella poem to her And it is even suggested that Shakespeare, in a delightful cameo, used her as muse when he wrote his Dark Lady, although the author admits this is purely speculative, as are most of the personal details of Lady Penelope s character and motivations What is clear is that Penelope Devereux was definitely a strong player in Elizabeth s court, being herself related to the Queen and even rud to share the same royal blood through her ancestor Mary Boleyn And there is no question that she played a crucial role in one of the most infamous episodes of Elizabeth s reign, which historians primarily pin on her brother, Lord Essex I did overall enjoy this story, especially because of the writing style Though it is thinner than Hilary Mantel s wonderfully complex and deep portrayal of Thomas Cromwell undoubtedly because, as a male historical figure, there was a lot material to draw upon whereas Fremantle had to kind of make it up as she went along , this historical fiction is delightfully filled with bon mots, vivid metaphors and it is also liberally sprinkled with carefully chosen, beautiful verses from the era.Penelope remembers as a child when her mother would come to tuck her in before going to a party at court As she leaned in to kiss her daughter those jewels would tumble forward with a soft clatter, like rain on a window.Growing up, she reflects on her naivety when she first arrives at Elizabeth s court as a young girl The hardened courtier she is now is different from that girl as an egg from an oyster. When the pain of her broken heart is too much to bear, Penelope enclosed her heart in a membrane, like a baby born in the caul, so it was inaccessible, even to her. Sidney s unrequited love poem to her catches onto the dry kindling of her sadness as she began to understand that this marks in ink on a sheaf of pages was the intimate articulation of Sidney s love, a true likeness of his heart. In the throes of overwhelming sorrow and grief, she knows her duty is to hold herself together on the surface all the while beneath she felt herself crumbling like plasterwork in an abandoned building.Despite all these beautiful, evocative words, I wish the subject the author had chosen could be inspiring but it is difficult for me to connect with the troop of bumbling fools that Penelope is supposed to have inspired into mounting a disastrous coup against Elizabeth I Fremantle goes to great length to drive the proposition that Lady Penelope is a she wolf to match Elizabeth I and had she but been born a man, she would have been an equal match to the Queen but I think she does not make her case here I would recommend this book strictly for fans of Tudor historical fiction who want to re live the era through a fresh pair of eyes and rather obscure historical figure. I ve given this an A B for narration and a B for content at AudioGals.Watch the Lady is a fascinating piece of historical fiction based on the life of Lady Penelope Rich, the sister of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex Penelope is widely believed to have been the inspiration for Sir Philip Sydney s famous sonnet sequence, Astrophel and Stella and her life was an unconventional one, to say the very least She was beautiful, possessed of a fine mind, took a keen interest in politics and, for a woman of the time, was able to live life on her own terms, sustaining a long term relationship with a man to whom she was not married while at the same time retaining the favour of the queen, who was not a woman tolerant of any sort of impropriety among her ladies.You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals. Really enjoyed Recommended. (READ EPUB) î Watch the Lady á Penelope Devereux Is A Legendary Beauty In The Court Of Elizabeth, But It S Not Just Her Looks Which Mark Her Apart With Her Canny Instinct For Being In The Right Place At The Right Time And Her Skilled Political Manipulation, She Has Become A Formidable Adversary To Anyone Who Stands In Her Path And Now, Penelope Must Secure The Future Of The Devereux Dynasty At Whatever Cost Even Treason For The Queen Is Just One Pawn In A Deadly Game I enjoyed reading this book it was really interesting Recommended.