Written by Jane Caro
Young Adult, Historical
Published May 1st 2015
Thank you to UQP
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'The Queen of Scots is dead and they say I killed her. They lie!'
Just a girl to those around her, Elizabeth is now the Queen of England. She has outsmarted her enemies and risen above a lifetime of hurt and betrayal, a mother executed by her father, a beloved brother who died too young and an enemy sister whose death made her queen.
Not knowing whom she can trust, Elizabeth is surrounded by men who give her compliments and advice but may be hiding daggers and poison behind their backs. Elizabeth must use her head and ignore her heart to be the queen her people need. But what if that leads to doing the one thing she swore she would never do: betray a fellow queen, her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots?
She leads her country, torn between who she is and how her advisers expect her to become. A woman of the people, a wife, a mother. But Elizabeth is pure of heart and her childhood friend her only love, behind that of her country. But behind the grand women is a group of men who are trying to shape their Grace to do their bidding, comparing her to that of her cousin, the now infamous Queen of Scotland who is also next in line to the throne. In a family surrounded by blood and scandal, Elizabeth must rise above the whispers and dominant men who expect her to rule with an iron fist and become the woman she needs to be. For herself. Wise, honest and a female leader within a man's world.
Just a Queen was a surprising and enjoyable read that is a cross between young adult and historical adult fiction. Told from Elizabeth's point of view, we seen a Queen who is nearing middle aged and looking back over her upon the throne, now older but perhaps none the wiser. The fictional insight took quite a few chapters to immerse myself in, but as the reader begins seeing the girl behind the Queen, I felt more endeared to woman that was ultimately indecisive and seemingly unhappy. Thrust into a position of power well beyond her control, she's known as the Virgin Queen, pure and untouched. But she harbors a deep and passionate love for her Horsemaster, a man she cannot marry for fear of reprisal. Many a suitor makes their attentions known from across the seas, Princes and King's alike. But not only does Elizabeth refuse to take a husband, but also to name an heir to her throne should she be ostracised or killed.
Where Elizabeth is seen as a darling of purity, her cousin Mary is not. The now Queen of Scotland has seen multiple marriages and scandal, but her strong religious ties still ensure the defamed Queen may still hold a place on the throne occupied by Elizabeth. The men in her life were deplorable, where Elizabeth wanted little more than to find a friend within the Queen of Scots, the secrets and whispering gossip had forced her hand. But as the storyline drifted back and forth between Elizabeth sharing her younger years as a newly anointed Queen and her older self looking back with much regret, the fictional version of Elizabeth seemed more so the spoilt child who never quite grew beyond her reign and allowed herself to be swayed far too easily.
But without a doubt, the historical prose was lovely. I could easily envision what it felt to be a woman in a predominantly male world. Her subtle acts of defiance during that period may have paved the way for equality today, but sadly those were too and far between. It was rich, detailed and a wonderful insight into a formidable woman through her fictional life.
The Final Verdict