‘TheVirgin’s Lover’ by Philippa Gregory is a novel based on Sir Robert Dudley, and his relationships with both his wife, Amy Robsart and Queen Elizabeth the first. The novel portrayed Dudley’s past accurately, it described his father’s downfall after failing to establish Lady Jane Grey on the throne and his condemnation as a traitor. Philippa Gregory also showed that it was well researched as Dudley’s awards and titles were featured in the books as they were in real life. This included Elizabeth awarding Dudley the “order of the garter” in the novel. Although regardless of the research the book is contains much speculation in reference to the extent of the Queen and Dudley’s relationship and the circumstances surrounding Amy’s sudden death, but the mystery surrounding her death is acknowledged in the author’s note, where Gregory states that the ‘mystery is unsolved’. In addition, I enjoyed the scenes in the book between Dudley and Laetitia Knollys, his future wife, as Gregory showed an attraction between them, him finding ‘it hard to look away from her’, which foreshadows their marriage after the events shown in the book.
However, overall, despite being well researched, I disliked this book. This is because Queen Elizabeth was portrayed throughout as flighty, weak and totally dependent on the men around her, especially William Cecil and Dudley, himself (she is described as unable to ‘take a decision without a man’). Even though, in actual fact, she was intelligent, speaking 6 different languages. Moreover, none of the main characters were likeable. Dudley was shown to be unashamedly selfish and his wife, Amy seems feeble and frustratingly desperate. Amy is also depicted dim and barely able to read and write, where as in truth neat letters in her own hand have been found.