Book Review: The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory


Read between: 29th September- 17th October
Number of pages: 486
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Harper Collins
Synopsis: In the autumn 1558, church bells across England ring out the news- Elizabeth is queen. One woman hears them with dread; Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, knows that with Elizabeth on the throne he will return to the glamorous Tudor court. The triumphant peal of bells summons her husband once more to power – and to the passionate young queen.

Robert is sure he can reclaim his destiny at Elizabeth’s side. And as the Queen and courtier fall in live,  Dudley begins to contemplate the impossible- setting aside his loving wife to marry the young Elizabeth…..

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review: There has always been a rumour that Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley were lovers, despite her title being the Virgin Queen. Philippa Gregory decides to explore that possibility in this novel. I always enjoy her historical fiction and this was no exception (Although in parts I found it a little far fetched)

As always the book is written in chapters dedicated to each season of the year, in this case, the years 1558-1560. This is usually why it takes me so long to get through them. In this book the chapters are split into four main viewpoints, Queen Elizabeth, her advisor William Cecil, Robert Dudley, and Robert’s wife Amy. I liked this as it managed to separate the in and outside of the royal court and gave varied opinions on the scandal of the supposed romance between Robert and the queen.

The romance was a little far fetched in places such as Elizabeth dressing up as a servant and finding Robert so they can have sex among the hay for the horses. (Not very royal behaviour!) However, as a good distraction from the romance was Elizabeth’s worry about the probability of war with France over Mary, Queen of Scots claim to the English throne. It reminded me as the reader that the novel is actually based on historical events.

Sadly, in history, Amy Dudley dies from a supposed fall down the stairs and breaks her neck. Her death was ruled as accidental but has always been a mystery. Gregory however spins her death into a murder. This was another area I found far fetched at the end of he novel because it becomes a mini whodunnit with Robert trying to find out who killed her because of his signet ring. From Robert’s point of view the murderer is obvious but it’s a confusing revelation. I just kept going “Why?”

Despite the few hiccups I did enjoy his book. Gregory is one of my favourite historical fiction writers.

4/5 stars.
I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of the Tudors and possible royal scandal.


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