Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post, here.
Elizabeth’s Women: The Women Who Shaped the Virgin Queen
by Tracy Borman
A source of endless fascination and speculation, the subject of countless biographies, novels, and films, Elizabeth I is now considered from a thrilling new angle by the brilliant young historian Tracy Borman. So often viewed in her relationships with men, the Virgin Queen is portrayed here as the product of women—the mother she lost so tragically, the female subjects who worshipped her, and the peers and intimates who loved, raised, challenged, and sometimes opposed her.
In vivid detail, Borman presents Elizabeth’s bewitching mother, Anne Boleyn, eager to nurture her new child, only to see her taken away and her own life destroyed by damning allegations—which taught Elizabeth never to mix politics and love. Kat Astley, the governess who attended and taught Elizabeth for almost thirty years, invited disaster by encouraging her charge into a dangerous liaison after Henry VIII’s death. Mary Tudor—“Bloody Mary”—envied her younger sister’s popularity and threatened to destroy her altogether. And animosity drove Elizabeth and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots into an intense thirty-year rivalry that could end only in death.
Elizabeth’s Women contains more than an indelible cast of characters. It is an unprecedented account of how the public posture of femininity figured into the English court, the meaning of costume and display, the power of fecundity and flirtation, and how Elizabeth herself—long viewed as the embodiment of feminism—shared popular views of female inferiority and scorned and schemed against her underlings’ marriages and pregnancies.
Brilliantly researched and elegantly written, Elizabeth’s Women is a unique take on history’s most captivating queen and the dazzling court that surrounded her.
March is Women’s History Month – woohoo! – so I really should try and get to one of the many history books waiting for me on my bookshelves. I’ve mentioned before how much I love the Tudors, and yet I’ve read an embarrassingly small amount of non-fiction about the Tudors because I need to be in the right mood for a history book. You can expect Shelf Control this month to be full of non-fiction like this!
I’ve owned a copy of Elizabeth’s Women for years and I keep meaning to get to it, it’s just so chunky! It sounds fantastic, though. So often we hear of the men who influenced Elizabeth – Henry VIII; Thomas Seymour; Robert Dudley; Francis Walsingham – but here Tracy Borman instead focuses on the many women in Elizabeth’s life, from her mother to her stepmothers, her sister, her governess and more, and how they influenced the woman who is probably England’s most famous monarch.
I’m sure I’m going to love this one, I just need to read it!
What’re some of your recommended reads for Women’s History Month?
This week I’m joining in with Lipsy @ Lipsyy Lost & Found to talk about the books I’ve been reading recently!
I started Strange the Dreamer months ago and now I really want to finish it. I’m currently taking part in the #FemmeFanTale readathon so my reading will consist of fantasy written by women for the rest of this week (and beyond, let’s be honest, because I love fantasy written by women) and I’m also trying to get ahead on my Booktube SFF Awards reading. Muse of Nightmares was shortlisted in the YA category this year, so I need to cross this one off my list so I can borrow the sequel from the library!
I’ve had the fun experience of reading this via the audiobook and via paperback, which has been great fun as the audiobook narrator is really good, and now that I’m about a third of the way through the book I feel as though the plot is finally starting to pick up. I’d love to finish this one this week if I can!
I finally read Circe and, of course, I adored it and I’m mad at myself that I didn’t read it sooner. It’s been shortlisted in the Fantasy category of the Booktube SFF Awards and I’m already confident that this one is going to get my vote. It also just made the longlist of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and I’d love to see it make the shortlist. Look out for my review!
Once I finish the chunker that is Strange the Dreamer I think I might be in the mood for a bit of a palate cleanser, so I’ll probably reach for Stephanie Burgis’s most recent novella, Thornbound. I really enjoyed Snowspelled so I’m looking forward to this sequel!
What have you been reading recently?