Review: Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor

Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor, England, 1544 (The Royal Diaries)Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor
by Kathryn Lasky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elizabeth, Red Rose of Tudor / 0-590-68484-1

This is definitely one of the most gripping of the Royal Diaries. Elizabeth lives in near constant danger for her life and her status as a princess, as her mercurial father feels free to exile her from his presence for months or even years at a time, as the mood takes him. Elizabeth is intimately aware of the perils of court, having lived under the reign of a father who has managed to divorce, behead, or survive the death of multiple wives. Her older sister, Mary, maintains all the traits of a dangerous fanatic or possible insanity, and her cruel behavior to her unwanted sister clearly foreshadows the dangers that Elizabeth will face under her sister's later rule. Through it all, Elizabeth remains brave, tenacious, and oddly loving, as she humbly worships the father who treats her with such detachment.

Parents will want to be aware that this is one of the more explicit Royal Diaries. Elizabeth is fascinated by the morbid executions of her mother and step-mother and asks for such details as may disturb a small child (for instance, did her mother's eyes move even after her head was cut off?). The descriptions of Henry's ailments are somewhat disturbing, as the king requests the children watch as his leg boils are lanced and the fluid drains out. And there is some minor plot points involving certain scandalous ladies emerging from dark room with married men on their arms and their hair a bit out of place. Elizabeth suspects that this is an "adult" matter, but notes it dutifully in her diary. I will add, however, that all this is handled in a realistic manner and seems largely safe for children, depending on the discretion of the parent.

~ Ana Mardoll

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