Book Review: The Queen’s Handmaiden

Title: The Queen’s Handmaiden

Author: Jennifer Ashley

Publisher: Berkley [Oct. 2007]

Genre: Historical Fiction

Paperback: 323 pages

I actually began reading this a long time ago when I was a senior in high school, but I left it on the bus one day and I could never find it. I guess someone had taken it. I bought another copy not too long after that, but I only restarted and finished the book a month ago. So it has been 4-5 years since I picked up this book and I finished it in a day.

Polt Summary

A novel of the early years of Elizabeth Tudor-as told by the spirited niece of her real-life governess.

Her name is Eloise Rousell

. Daughter of a well-bred lady and a strolling player, she lived her early years in peaceful obscurity. But then her father died-and her new stepfather wanted none of her. So she was sent to her aunt, Kat Ashley-governess to the young Elizabeth Tudor.

In the tumultuous household of the princess in exile, Eloise finds her destiny- best friend, confidante, lady-in-waiting, and favored seamstress of the fiery girl who would become the greatest monarch of all time.

Through a decade of plots and counter-plots, tragedies and triumphs, Eloise, like her aunt, is a constant in Elizabeth’s life. Risking her heart- and her head-in service to the cause of seeing Elizabeth on the throne, Eloise is a bright, brave, sprightly witness to history. This is her story.

My Thoughts

This book was an easy read. Historical wise there was some inaccuracy. (If I am wrong at how much inaccuracy there was, I apologize I am not an expert on Tudor history).  As I read if I came across an individual I would usually do a quick read up on them online so that way I can test how well they did. Although it would have been nice if the book continue longer after Elizabeth became Queen, since the books is titled The Queen’s Handmaiden and not The Princess’ Handmaiden.  Also the whole affair between Robert Dudley and Elizabeth should have been longer in my opinion. She didn’t give all of the characters depth like Jane Grey, just going with a typical description, however I like to think that maybe that is how the characters in the story like Eloise sees Lady Jane, after all people tend to stereotype each other.

What I enjoyed is the perspective. It was from the perspective of Elizabeth’s seamstress. I haven’t read many Historical Fiction involving the Tudor Era, but when I have it is usually from Elizabeth’s so seeing it through a handmaiden was a nice take.

What I didn’t enjoy was how often Elizabeth slapped people, especially the women in her life who were only trying to help her. She seemed very violent and that just threw me off and I thought it unnecessary. I know she was famous for her temper, but I haven’t seen anything anywhere that said she had tendencies to be violent to those that served under her. I don’t know how common that sort of thing was during the tudor era, still I didn’t think it was necessary.  I really didn’t like Elizabeth to be honest for part of the book and I felt more sorry for the seamstress.

Overall the book was written well. Was an easy read, really predictable and  even though I enjoyed the different perspective, this book is more than okay, but just not quite good enough for me. I wanted more.

I would give the book 2.5 stars out of 5. 2.5 star


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