Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Elizabeth And The Prince Of Spain by Margaret Irwin

Elizabeth And The Prince Of Spain opens with the marriage of Prince Philip of Spain to Elizabeth's sister, Mary.  Mary is the daughter of Henry VIII's first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and she has no sisterly love for the offspring of his next wife, Anne Boleyn.  The marriage is one of political convenience for Spain; Mary is more than a decade older than Philip.  While he is polite, he has no real interest in Mary.  Mary, on the other hand, after a lifetime of no love interest, falls devotedly and jealously in love with Philip.

This love is both the greatest danger and the safety net for Elizabeth.  Left to her own devices, Mary would put Elizabeth back in the Tower and take her life.  Instead, to please Philip, she restrains herself, and even brings Elizabeth to court.  This is a double-edged sword.  While she pleases Philip, she now watches his every move intently, afraid that he will fall under Elizabeth's spell.

Elizabeth also faces the double-edged sword.  She must please Philip enough to retain him as her protector and keep him interested in her, but at the same time, she must keep him at arm's length.  An affair with Philip would end her life as it would be the one crime Mary would never forgive.

Margaret Irwin has written a trilogy about Elizabeth and this one is the third in the series.  It easily stands alone, however, as there is little suspense in the story of the Tudors for most readers.  Irwin's forte is characterization; her characters act in ways that are believable to the reader while retaining enough mystery to intrigue them.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

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