The Virgin’s Daughters – Jeane Westin

Title: The Virgin’s Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I
Author: Jeane Westin
ISBN: 9780451226679
Pages: 416
Release Date: August 4, 2009
Publisher: NAL Trade
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

From the publisher’s website:

In a court filled with repressed sexual longing, scandal, and intrigue, Lady Katherine Grey is Elizabeth’s most faithful servant. When the young queen is smitten by the dashing Robert Dudley, Katherine must choose between duty and desire—as her secret passion for a handsome earl threatens to turn Elizabeth against her. Once the queen becomes a bitter and capricious monarch, another lady-in-waiting, Mistress Mary Rogers, offers the queen comfort. But even Mary cannot remain impervious to the court’s sexual tension—and as Elizabeth gives her doomed heart to the mercurial Earl of Essex, Mary is drawn to the queen’s rakish godson…

When I first heard about The Virgin’s Daughters, I was really confused by the title.  I knew it was about Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting; was it going to claim that some of them were the Virgin Queen’s daughters?  However, after reading this book, the answer is clear:  Elizabeth I considered her younger ladies-in-waiting her daughters because she knew she would have no children.

It’s really interesting that Westin chose to tell two stories in The Virgin’s Daughters, rather than just one.  Both are about love affairs of ladies-in-waiting, but the really interesting part is how different the two tales are.  Katherine Grey is impulsive; she changes her mind on a whim.  She has to follow her emotions, no matter the consequences.  She thinks with her heart, rather than her head.

Mary is more level-headed.  Though she too falls hopelessly in love, she is much more rational about it.  She realizes what the consequences could be, and acts only after weighing these very carefully.  It’s not that Katherine didn’t think about what might happen to her; after all, her sister was Lady Jane Grey, who was beheaded for treason.  She was well aware of what could occur, but rationalized things in her head to a fault.  In a lot of ways, I found Mary to be much smarter and a much more interesting character, though Katherine’s story had me captivated as well.

I also liked the portrayal of Elizabeth I in The Virgin’s Daughters.  Westin manages to show her has having a lot of contradictions within her character.  She was as strong as any man, yet needed Robert Dudley by her side at all times.  She was quick to forgive betrayal by her favorite men, but if one of her ladies-in-waiting went against her wishes, there was no mercy.  She expected her “daughters” to make the same sacrifice she had.  They were expected to give up their lives for her, but in return, they had the confidence of a Queen.  I appreciated this complicated character; it must have been difficult to balance her different sides, yet Westin makes it looks effortless and easy.

The Virgin’s Daughters is Jeane Westin’s first historical fiction novel, but you’d never know that by the skill she displays in this book.  I hope she sticks with this genre in the future; if so, I will definitely make it a point to read her next book!

Comments

  1. I just started this one and so far so good! It’s a very unique portrayal of this story, and I appreciate it for that already! Great review!

  2. I just started this one and so far so good! It’s a very unique portrayal of this story, and I appreciate it for that already! Great review!

  3. What a thoughtful review.
    I had sort of skimmed by this book, but after reading this review seems like yet another to add to the must get list.

  4. What a thoughtful review.
    I had sort of skimmed by this book, but after reading this review seems like yet another to add to the must get list.

  5. I love books about the Tudor period, and this sounds like one I’d really enjoy. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  6. I love books about the Tudor period, and this sounds like one I’d really enjoy. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  7. Great review! I liked this one too.

  8. Great review! I liked this one too.

  9. Thanks for that review – it sounds just like my sort of book.

  10. Thanks for that review – it sounds just like my sort of book.

  11. Your review has made Elizabeth sound fascinating!

  12. Your review has made Elizabeth sound fascinating!

  13. And another one to add to the TBR pile… 🙂

  14. And another one to add to the TBR pile… 🙂

  15. 😀 I totally agree, this was a good read and I loved the Elizabeth she created!

    ~Suzi
    Fashionista Piranha Book Blog

  16. 😀 I totally agree, this was a good read and I loved the Elizabeth she created!

    ~Suzi
    Fashionista Piranha Book Blog

  17. I too was confused by the title until I read a review or two. I’m so glad this one was a winner, because I’ve had it on my wish list for a while.

  18. I too was confused by the title until I read a review or two. I’m so glad this one was a winner, because I’ve had it on my wish list for a while.

  19. I really enjoyed this one, too. I’m looking forward to her next novel about Elizabeth and Dudley. I’m hoping that hers will be the first novel about Elizabeth that I enjoy. So far I haven’t enjoyed anything where she is the narrator.

  20. I really enjoyed this one, too. I’m looking forward to her next novel about Elizabeth and Dudley. I’m hoping that hers will be the first novel about Elizabeth that I enjoy. So far I haven’t enjoyed anything where she is the narrator.

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