by Ann Rinaldi
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 224 Pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 29, 2008)
What to expect: Historical Fiction
The other day, a friend of mine who has a twelve year old daughter asked me if I thought it would be okay to let her daughter read The Other Boleyn Girl. I love that book, it is one of my favorites, but definitely not appropriate for that age group. Because of the girl’s interest in Tudor England, I knew immediately which book to recommend: The Redheaded Princess.
Elizabeth I is a fascinating character, and Ms. Rinaldi’s book definitely does her justice. The story is told through her eyes, and it traces her from the time she loses her status as princess at age 9 to the day she becomes queen. What makes the story work really well is the narration. Elizabeth’s voice is sure, steady, and sympathetic–you can’t help but feel sorry for the young girl who has no real parent, as her father changes his mind about his affections for her on the slightest whim. She endures a great deal of loss and loneliness, and some of her major problems–a jealous sister, unrequited first love, betrayal by those she feels closest to–are just as relavent today as they were in her day.
Poor Elizabeth finds herself in many perilous situations before she can take the throne–her father dies and leaves her quite unprotected; her stepfather desires her hand in marriage; she is a Protestant while her Catholic sister is on the throne–but the book depicts her as a survivor, living by the mantra, “Act like a Queen, always.” Again, the historical accuracy of the book is spot on, and it is probably the best young adult novel I have come across about Elizabeth Tudor.
For those interested in historical fiction, Ann Rinaldi is a great author to start with. Her books are always well-researched; The Redheaded Princess includes an extensive bibliography for those who are interested in the historical background of the story. While she states in her afterward that she is sure there are “more accurate, more intricate, more exacting” tales written about Elizabeth, I think overall this one provides a great introduction to Elizabeth. Ms. Rinaldi is best known for her historical fiction set in America; I highly recommend Time Enough for Drums as well!
Link: A book review by Becky’s Book Reviews.