Book review: The Virgin Queen’s Daughter by Ella March Chase

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In the Machiavellian world of the Tudor court, there is always room to take liberties.

So why not speculate that the teenage Elizabeth I might have secretly given birth to a daughter after what we know was a real-life dalliance with her lecherous guardian Thomas Seymour?

Ella March Chase takes this rather daring and ambitious theory as the premise for her intriguing and entertaining debut novel, an enjoyable romp through history real and imagined.

The possibility that the Virgin Queen could actually have had a child to the traitorous husband of her stepmother Queen Katherine Parr is based on a rumour circulating at the time that a midwife claimed to have delivered a baby ‘to a very fair lady’ thought to be 14-year-old Elizabeth Tudor.

It’s a fascinating thought and one that the author uses here to open the proverbial palace doors onto a turbulent tale of politics, romance, mystery and suspense.

By intertwining real events and real people with a cast of fictional characters and what might just have been possible, we are given a thrilling and dramatic new perspective on a familiar story...

Elinor de Lacey has been raised by Lord and Lady Calverley at their country estate in Lincolnshire. An honest, loving and intelligent girl, she has no idea that she is the illegitimate daughter of a Tudor princess.

Elizabeth, whose very existence has always courted controversy, could not afford for the scandal to be made public and has always believed the baby was ‘disposed of.’

Nell, as Elinor is affectionately known, first meets Elizabeth by chance when the princess is being held in the Tower of London and pledges to one day become her lady in waiting.

Sure enough, when Elizabeth takes the throne, Nell is summoned to court but her distinctive red hair and her obvious resemblance to the queen sets in motion new rumours about a missing portion of Elizabeth’s past.

There are those at court who would love to topple Elizabeth and with strong evidence to connect her to Nell, the truth could send them all to the scaffold...

The Virgin Queen’s Daughter paints a vibrant portrait of a vulnerable and occasionally vicious young queen plagued by the insecurity and loneliness of being a woman in a man’s world.

Her life and times form a colourful backdrop to the dangerous love affair between Nell and her suitor Gabriel Wyatt who must use all their wit and guile if they are to survive.

A captivating story with an exhilarating blend of fact and fiction...

(Ebury, paperback, £6.99