Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Author: Tasha Alexander
Publisher: Harper
Star Rating: 2.5/5
Date Read: June 4th to 11th, 2014
A word of warning: you need to be careful when representing historic figures – and also when you’re reading them. It is easy to mistake a fictional account of real events for what really happened. But this is only how the author wanted Elizabeth and other figures to appear. While I’m sure she has done her research (I assume so anyway), there is no one alive today who really knows what Elizabeth was thinking or feeling. Just something to keep in the back of your mind when you’re reading this.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is part of the story of Queen Elizabeth and focuses on the threats of assassination she faced from her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, and her conspirators, from the Spanish king Philip and also on Elizabeth’s love affair with captain and explorer of the new world, Walter Raleigh. I really enjoyed Matthew Reilly’s The Tournament, a fictional imagining of an event from Elizabeth’s childhood, and my aunt, who bought me the book, thought I would enjoy this too.

What I didn’t mention (if you haven’t worked it out already), is that it is a film novelization. Not only do we have Cate Blanchett on the cover, but we also encounter the clumsiness of structure, plot and dialogue that is so often found in other film novelizations. I haven’t read one film novelization done well. You can translate books to movies, but it just doesn’t work the other way. That is true for Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

I would love to read an actual historical novel, based on more than just a movie, about this time in Elizabeth’s life. I have always been fascinated by her, the strong, determined queen of England in the 1600s. She has always seemed so interesting to me. This novelization was just not well done, I felt characterization was poor and the setting inadequately described. You are not describing a time by simply describing what the characters wore in every scene. It takes more than that. There was a little too much ‘show and tell’ in this book for my liking. Such an important figure in history and I felt she was not done justice. There must be other works better written and better representations of the queen as a monarch and as a woman, I would suggest readers interested in this time find those instead! That’s what I’ll be doing.


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