cover image Young Elizabeth: Elizabeth I and Her Perilous Path to the Crown

Young Elizabeth: Elizabeth I and Her Perilous Path to the Crown

Nicola Tallis. Pegasus, $29.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-639-36584-5

Tallis (Crown of Blood) examines in this insightful biography the tumultuous first 25 years of Queen Elizabeth I’s life before she ascended to England’s throne in 1558. According to Tallis, these early years—when the young princess navigated the volatile temperaments of both her father, Henry VIII, and her half sister, Mary I—instilled adaptability, an appreciation for intellectual pursuits, and lifelong health issues; all of which helped to shape her long reign. Born to Anne Boleyn in 1533, Elizabeth lost her mother and her status as heir before she turned three; by age eight, she had “gained and lost three stepmothers in less than six years.” Finding joy as a student, Elizabeth excelled in her humanist course of studies and achieved proficiency in several languages. When Protestant supporters placed her at the center of a plot to overthrow Mary, Elizabeth learned from her mother’s mistakes; she chose her words and even her modest clothes carefully to survive her own terrifying imprisonment in the Tower of London. The narrative thoughtfully details the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, including Mary’s softening toward her half sister when both were disinherited in the years before Elizabeth’s very existence threatened Mary’s reign. Tallis builds a thorough, credible recreation of the queen’s formative decades, providing insight into the proud, determined, insecure, and singular ruler she became. Tudor enthusiasts won’t want to miss this. (Feb.)