These four books represent my most recent reading list. I just finished "England After Elizabeth" by Leandra D'Lisle this morning. I have learned a lot from these books, especially about politics after the death of Gloriana, Elizabeth I. I have not read much about Jacobean England, for some reason King James and his reign have left me quite cool. I was interested, however, in how the rise of King James affected the politics and the people of his day, and how the citizens of England felt upon his arrival.
I had not understood, as I began this reading series, how thoroughly Bess of Hardwick would figure throughout all of these books. What an amazing woman she was - in so many ways. Bess really was a woman who was centuries ahead of her time. I can see her in the present day as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company!
My first read of the series was "Arbella: England's Lost Queen" by Sarah Gristwood, followed by the new work of historical fiction by Gillian Bagwell, "Venus In Winter" which is a most excellent, riveting book that I highly recommend.
I was pleased and amazed, when I read "Bess of Hardwick" by Mary Lovell, how closely "Venus In Winter" (reviewed here on August 17, 2013) follows the true facts of the life of the redoubtable Bess of Hardwick. I highly recommend reading both of these extraordinary books. You will derive a lot of pleasure and a lot of learning. The non-fiction "Bess of Hardwick" makes for pleasurable reading - this is not dull history at all and the biography reads as readily as fiction.
I had "After Elizabeth" by Leandra D'Lisle on my shelf for some time and decided, after finishing "Bess of Hardwick" that it was time to learn a bit about the court of King James and what really did happen after Gloriana's death in March of 1603. Although this book was a bit drier (though not that much so) than "Bess of Hardwick" I found that I learned a lot from the book and looked forward to reading more of it every day. What I had not anticipated was that Bess and the Shrewsbury family also figured prominently in the time of James accession to the throne. This book brought together a lot of loose historical threads for me, and provided me with a much more complete idea of just how important this family, and it's matriarch, were enmeshed in the political landscapes of their time. Remarkable!
This was a wonderful series of books, each one of them is highly readable and very informative. History really is amazing. What is the saying that the more things change the more they stay the same? Read these books and see why I think this is so true! You will also find a much enjoyment and much learning. I highly recommend any, or all, of these fascinating reads if you are a history fan - especially if you, like me, like nothing more than learning more about British history!