Sunday, October 31, 2010

The King's Daughter by Christie Dickason

The King's Daughter

Princess Elizabeth of Scotland

Elizabeth of Scotland and Bohemia
19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662

The King's Daughter by Christie Dickason is a biographical novel about Elizabeth of Scotland who later became Queen of Bohemia.  She was the eldest daughter of James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. 

James VI

Anne of Denmark

Christie Dickason has written a fascinating first person narrative told through the eyes of a lesser known princess of the 17th century - a pleasant reprieve from the over abundance of Tudor novels currently in the market place. 

Princess Elizabeth was born at Falkland Palace, Fife. At the time of her birth, her father was King of Scots and he was estranged from his wife.  Their marriage was not a happy one.  When she was six years old, Elizabeth I of England died and her father succeeded to the thrones of England and Ireland. When she came to England, the Countess of Kildare became her governess until she was consigned to the care of Lord Harington, with whom she spent the happiest years of her childhood at Combe Abbey in Warwickshire.

When Elizabeth was nine years old, aristocrats secretly plotted to kidnap her and put her onto the throne of England and Scotland as a Catholic monarch after assassinating her father and the Protestant aristocracy.  The plot became known as the Gunpowder Plot.  Elizabeth managed to evade the kidnapping.  When the plot was discovered, the guilty parties were swiftly executed.  This made her father suspicious as to her own involvement, setting a course for conflict between father and daughter throughout the novel.  

James is a weak and unpopular king, despised for his debauchery, poor manners, and sodomy.  Paranoid of his two children, Henry and Elizabeth, he keeps them at arms length not only from him, but from each other.  Yet, Henry and Elizabeth have a strong bond of love and trust as they strive to protect each other from their father's machinations.  The King toys with Elizabeth by continually threatening to marry her to numerous suitors.  Elizabeth, however, is resilient and she keeps a wary eye on her father, outsmarting him at every turn.

An interesting sidestory is the fictional character, Thalia Bristo, a black slave who becomes Elizabeth's eyes and ears in a court fraught with suspicion and deception.  It draws a parallel between the two women's lives because they are neither free to conduct their own lives and are both bought and sold in accordance with the whims of men.  The novel also introduces many fascinating characters such Francis Bacon, the Earl of Salisbury, and even the future King Charles 1.

Filled with charming scenes, one of the most memorable is the one where she encounters her betrothed, Frederick V, Elector of the Palatinate in Germany.  With wit, Elizabeth sets out to secure his father's approval to choose him as her husband.  Well written, this aspect of the novel is humorous and heartwarming and depicts Frederick and Elizabeth's genuine love for each other throughout their marriage.

Frederick V

The novel ends as Elizabeth and Frederick are newly married.  I thoroughly enjoyed Christie Dickason's depiction of Elizabeth.  The story is uncomplicated, easy to read, and full of interesting twists and turns.  For anyone who has had their fill of the Tudors, this is an excellent story of a woman who used her wits to keep her head on her shoulders while fighting to find happiness and love.


Malena of Royal Women said...

This is on my TBR-list! I first became interested in Elizabeth after reading The Murder in the Tower by Jean Plaidy, even though she has only a very small role in it. I love it when authors writes about lesser-known people^^

LindyLouMac said...

As you already know although I have an interest in history I am not a great reader of historical novels, but I have to say your review makes this sound fascinating.