A comprehensive and unusual look at England’s most famous queen.




Fields (Shylock: His Own Story, 2015, etc.) tackles the knowns and unknowns of England’s Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) in this work of history.

Elizabeth I, aka “Gloriana” and “the Virgin Queen,” was a colorful figure at the center of an eventful period in English history who still manages to stimulate the popular imagination more than 400 years after her death. This wide-ranging biography’s first section is a breathless account that spans the entire Tudor dynasty from the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 to the ascension of James I in 1603, with the requisite reiteration of Elizabeth’s rise to power, her completion of England’s break from the Catholic Church, the war with Spain, and her constantly evolving entourage of advisers, favorites, and paramours. The second section of the book, “Elizabethan Enigmas,” is organized by topic as Fields delves into the curios of Elizabeth’s life. Was she truly a virgin? Did she sanction the murder of the wife of nobleman Robert Dudley? What were her true thoughts on Catholicism? In other chapters, such as “Duplicity,” “Miserliness,” and “Piracy and Worse,” Fields introduces readers to aspects of the queen that they may not have heard before. The concision and comprehensiveness of the first section are impressive, and its brevity and quick pacing keep it from getting bogged down in minutiae the way that biographies of monarchs often do. Fields’ true interest seems to lie in the second section’s subject matter, though, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Without humoring outright conspiracy theories—he dismisses the idea that she wrote Shakespeare’s plays with the terse statement, “She did write well; but not that well”—Fields finds plenty of intrigues to challenge conventional notions of the queen. Twelve beautiful, full-color portraits from the National Portrait Gallery in London and a timeline of the queen’s life round out this volume. Its 450-plus pages belie what a quick read it actually is, making it a perfect primer for those interested in the “Good Queen Bess” but who may be intimidated by some of the longer tomes available.

A comprehensive and unusual look at England’s most famous queen.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017


Page Count: 451

Publisher: Marmont Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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