It was an absolute delight to travel to Monmouth here in Wales to see Alison Weir talk about her latest novel, ‘The Marriage Game’, which has not long been released here in the UK. For weeks leading up to it I was excited to meet and hear from this author and historian whose books mean so much to me and to you, the community here at QAB.
I was not disappointed. Alison spoke eloquently and with passion about her book; it is clear why her books are among the most popular history books in the UK. Her dedication and love of her subject matter simply shines from her. ‘The Marriage Game’ is a novel about Elizabeth I and her rumoured love affair with Robert Dudley. Alison described how this was the scandal of Europe, and how even with her declining years, Elizabeth was expected to marry, the question being who…. ‘Game’ is the right way to describe it!
I have been looking forward to the release of this book, as I enjoyed Alison’s previous novels, ‘The Lady Elizabeth’ and ‘Innocent Traitor’. Alison is confident that Dudley did want to marry Elizabeth, and their unconventional relationship,which was a blend of lust, love and friendship, continued until his death. Elizabeth was caught between duty, love and England. Should she marry a foreign prince who would rule with her? Should she marry a courtier and thus debase her position? And of course, the poor marriage choices of her father, sister and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots would have been vivid in her mind. These elements are all described and explored in the novel.
I sensed criticism from the audience at a serious historian being a writer of historical fiction as well, with a difficult question coming from the floor – but I say, who better to tell the story with a fictional twist? Alison’s work as a historian surely lends support to her career as a historical novelist who can be relied upon to complete a work of substance and accuracy.
Alison clearly had a lot of fun with this book, imagining the relationship between the queen and Dudley. Ultimately we don’t know the exact truth of what happened between them, but that’s part of the mystique that we have enjoyed for over 400 years. However, the ‘Virgin Queen’ doesn’t seem an accurate representation to me!
At the end of the discussion, Alison signed copies of ‘The Marriage Game’ – here’s my copy! I am glad to have had this opportunity to see Alison speak and to meet her so close to home, it’s an evening I will always remember.