Just A Girl – Jane Caro
University of Queensland Press, 2011
The daughter of England’s beloved King Henry VIII, it would seem Princess Elizabeth is destined for greatness. Yet life at court is a chancy one, and before the age of four she has lost both mother and title, declared a bastard like her older sister Mary before her. The best she can hope for from her father is to be remembered. She is, after all, just a girl, and the king is obsessed with siring a male heir. But a time of change is coming, and whether she wishes it or not, Elizabeth will be at the centre of a new age.
It’s no secret I am a passionate Elizabeth fan and I don’t entirely agree with Caro’s perception of the princess, painting her as more insecure and less politically adept than I believe she really was. The structure of the novel didn’t always work well for me either, particularly at the beginning, shifting about from one time period to another without letting the reader take in the setting. Just a Girl does cover a large part of Elizabeth’s life, from childhood to coronation, and I really appreciated the focus Caro paid to the incredibly complex relationship between Elizabeth and Mary. From no queens to three – it’s a fascinating period of history. Elizabeth’s story continues in Just a Queen.