The Virgin's Lover by Philippa GregoryThe Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory

The Virgin's Lover

byPhilippa Gregory

Paperback | September 7, 2005

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author and “queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) comes a riveting and scandalous love triangle between a young woman on the brink of greatness, a young man whose ambition far exceeds his means, and the wife who cannot forgive them.

In the autumn of 1558, church bells across England ring out the joyous news that Elizabeth I is the new queen, yet one woman hears the tidings with utter dread. She is Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, and she knows that Elizabeth’s ambitious leap to the throne will draw her husband back to the center of the glamorous Tudor court, where he was born to be.

Elizabeth’s excited triumph is short-lived. She has inherited a bankrupt country where treason is rampant and foreign war a certainty. Her faithful advisors warns her that she will survive only if she marries a strong prince to govern the rebellious country, but the one man Elizabeth desires is her childhood friend, the ambitious Robert Dudley. As the young couple falls back in love, a question hangs in the air: can he really set aside his wife and marry the queen? When Amy is found dead, Elizabeth and Dudley are suddenly plunged into a struggle for survival.
Author Philippa Gregory was born in Nairobi, Kenya on January 9, 1954. At the age of two, she moved to England with her family. She received a B.A. in history at Sussex University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in 18th-century literature from the University of Edinburgh in 1984. She has taught at numerous universities and was made a fellow of Kin...
Title:The Virgin's LoverFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:464 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 1.1 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.25 × 1.1 inPublished:September 7, 2005Publisher:Washington Square PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0743269268

ISBN - 13:9780743269261


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Tough getting into This book did not grab your attention...I had a hard time getting into this book, compared to her others it had less excitement. I found the characters to be a bit annoying, and the storyline was lacking. I like Philippa Gregory, I enjoyed many of her books but I was far from impressed with this one.
Date published: 2017-11-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read While not historically accurate, this novel made for an entertaining and good read.
Date published: 2017-11-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Do Not Like Quite frankly takes too much creative license and grossly historically inaccurate,
Date published: 2017-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this Era If you like Tudor Era books, this is a must read.
Date published: 2017-09-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great introduction This was the first Gregory's book that I ever read and I have to say that it remains one of my favourites. So well written that you feel as if you are watching these events unfold, rather than reading a novel.
Date published: 2017-05-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good read! A must read in you interested in English history specifically the Tudor era. A great read and depiction of Tudor England. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great great love philippa gregory, this book did not disappoint!
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good I've been starting this book and stopping for about seven years and finally decided to finish it. It was good. The writing at least and when it took place but it fell flat in many other areas. I've always seen Elizabeth as a strong woman and an important part of our history but here she is portrayed as weak and pathetic and obsessed with Robert. Incapable of making a decision she spends the whole book biting her nails (it's mentioned at least five times a chapter) and being jealous of any other woman in proximity. Robert was manipulative and arrogant and I wanted to punch him for how emotionally abusive he was to every woman he encountered. The only characters I enjoyed were Cecil and Amy and even those two were hard to follow at times. And it's hard to enjoy a book when you don't enjoy the characters. Nevertheless I did like it. I like Philippa Gregory and am looking forward to what she writes next but she does have a habit of writing unlink able characters which I actually find makes her more interesting. Ps there really wasn't a need to put Amy's death on the back page. It happened in the last fifty pages so it was a spoiler and not that big a part of the story.
Date published: 2017-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! One of her best novels! A must read.
Date published: 2016-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Virgin's Lover Amazing read, this was the first historical fiction novel that really brings forth vivid characters and insights. A must read if your a fan of the Tudor history.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another hit! Great book, couldn't stop reading it. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent Although I enjoyed this book for the historical knowledge of the era, I did not identify with Gregory's characters in this book as I had with earlier ones in the Tudor series.
Date published: 2011-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great weekend read! This is the third book that I have read by Philippa Gregory, and I am truly a fan. One has to really know the history of this time period to appreciate how the author blends in all aspects of this historical time period (places, foods, entertainment, economy etc) with the thoughts and emotions of the major characters. I highly recommend this series, but unlike me, read them in order!
Date published: 2011-02-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Vulnerable Virgin Queen! Once again Philippa Gregory has done a good job in introducing us a different side of the Virgin Queen...Elizabeth, of Tudor and Boleyn blood, seems vulnerable, dependent on others and totally blinded by love (Dudley). After having read this, it is quite a surprise that her reign was called the Golden Age....but that is historical fiction for you. Overall, not one of her best books, but amusing nevertherless!
Date published: 2010-01-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining This is the 3rd of Philippa Gregory's books that I have read. I still find the "Other Boleyn Girl" the best of what I have read. But I find her books very entertaining. She has succeeded once again, to bring historical figures to life for the reader. In this book, Queen Elizabeth I becomes a person with a full spectrum of emotions and behaviours, rather than someone who we read about in history and who remain one dimensional. Gregory provides with her writing, insight into how Queen Elizabeth may have behaved and felt, providing the reader a much deeper appreciation for what it may have been to be a queen during the 16th Century. I found the back cover description of the story interesting because it suggested that after Robert Dudley's wife's death, there was more to this book. In actuality the book seemed to end once Amy died. Nevertheless, I found it interesting and very much enjoyed it. It was not quite as riveting as the book I mentioned above, but I liked it much better than the "Constant Princess". I have read biographies of Queen Elizabeth in the past, and enjoyed this because of the story that went along with learning about her and some of the people who helped her and kept her alive. For a woman to be in such a powerful position at that time in history is really remarkable. Elizabeth I is definitely one of my heroes.
Date published: 2009-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good character development... First things first. I recommend you read The Queen's Fool before reading this one. It contains a bit background information and a bit of a foundation to carry you over to The Virgin's Lover. It's not necessary but it's nice to have that extra bit of info in the small moments where the book makes a reference to the past. Besides, The Queen's Fool was a good book so why would you not want to read it? :) There's plenty of intrigue and double crossing in here, so if you're really into that this is the book for you. I love that stuff. I love seeing characters you don't like get the axe because they were too careless and got double crossed. It's just so satisfying. Which brings me to this other point. I hate Robert Dudley. Everything about him made me want to grind my teeth, made me want to jump into the book and punch him in the gonads, or made me want to run a lance into him. I just can't stand the guy. He oozes sliminess and his ambition is just way over the top it made you want to roll your eyes and slap him across the head with a sledgehammer. His arrogance made me want to scream. He was all right at first but once you saw past his true colors you just wanted to curl your lip in disgust at the guy. Either I need serious help, or Ms. Gregory just did a wonderful job at character development and creation here. :P I have never hated a character so much until I came across Robert Dudley. Amy (Dudley's wife) made you want to cringe because she was everything you didn't want her to be. She was the epitome of submissive wife. There were moments where she finally grew a backbone (and you had to cheer for her during those times) but you just can't help but pity the poor woman. Of all the characters in the book I sympathized with Amy the most. It was just painful to see her pain and suffering and the way she fawned at Dudley made you want to pity her, but at the same time be quite disgusted with her. She admirable though. She put up with a lot of issues and crap for that time. It's hard to decide how I feel about Elizabeth. She's whiny. She's NEEDY. She's clingy. She nearly made me want to jab something in my eye. However there were moments where I thought "Heeeey..she's not so stupid after all!" so it's very hard to see Elizabeth in a different view than what you usually see (usually as a very strong character who defied the Spanish Armada). So I thought it was difficult to like her in this novel. I was on the fence with her. Overall, I thought it was a good read. There are romantic parts but not that explicit and quickly done and over with. So to me, they were tolerable. No battle scenes here which was unfortunate but wasn't really the main part of the subject anyway (this book rather focuses on Dudley and Elizabeth). The intrigue of court life was here as usual (all of Gregory's novels have it) so that was good to see. I just really enjoyed the character development and creation in this book.
Date published: 2009-07-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not Her Best But Still Good! I would rate this book as 3.5 stars if I could - mainly because it is not as good as Gregory's other Tudor novels. I enjoyed the novel, which is a historical fiction based on the beginning of Queen Elizabeth I's reign and her notorious love affair with Robert Dudley. However, I did not like how Elizabeth was portrayed as weak, indecisive and dependant on the men around her. I was expecting another strong Boleyn girl! I preferred the character of Laetitia (Lettice) Knollys (Mary Boleyn's granddaugher and lady in waiting to Elizabeth) - she had the strongwilled, independant Boleyn attitude. This novel picks up right where the Queen's Fool leaves off - as Queen Mary is dying and Elizabeth ascends to the throne of England. It was definitely not my favourite of Gregory's Tudor novels but still a good read - a bit slow in some places though. If you are interested in reading Gregory's Tudor novels in order of the historical events, this novel comes after the Queen's Fool and before the Other Queen.
Date published: 2009-03-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting An interesting interpretation on the life and origin of the Virgin Queen. I enjoyed it despite the fact that the pacing was really slow. Aside from that it was quite injoyable.
Date published: 2009-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Notorious Love Affair This novel addresses another fascinating aspect of the Tudor Court drama. The Elizabethan enigma left us with an unsolved crime of passion that shocked a nation through history. At the time of Queen Mary's death, the young princess had yet to act in a significant role on the great stage of England. The plotting of other legitimate heirs and powerful bishops who fear the return of Protestant rigors and Henry’s rules leave Elizabeth beset by treachery on all sides. Left with few resources to protect her position and only a few trusted counsellors (William Cecil and Robert Dudley) helping her rule the country. Cecil is a devoted man who believes England should remain in the hands of the Protestant Queen. The ambitious Dudley is constantly looking for court favours and is a childhood friend hopelessly in love with her. This poses a critical impediment, Robert Dudley is married to Amy Robsart an unassuming woman waiting patiently for his return. Elizabeth and Dudley’s romance fills the court full of intrigues, whispers, gossip and treachery while the country is on the brink of war. Problems are compounded when Amy is found dead sending Elizabeth and Robert into a struggle for survival. This romantic historically based fiction depicts the notorious love affairs of royalty. Ms Gregory brings her main characters and events to life by covering an abundance of period details with a wonderful blend of fantasy and fact. Robert is painted as a ruthless and manipulative man with the ultimate goal of obtaining power. Elizabeth is an emotional and indecisive sovereign torn between country and love, Amy an outcast is an innocent and a resolute individual languishing with a broken heart for her husband’s return. This cross between a love story and a murder mystery presents a rich tapestry of a country torn apart by religious wrangling, poverty and one that is titillated with royal scandals. It is history brought to live in a very entertaining way.
Date published: 2008-12-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing I bought this immediately after reading "The Other Boleyn Girl" since that was such a fantastic read. I read "Boleyn" in about 3 days.... I have had this book for about a month and still haven't finished it (which is about half the size). This book I find is incredibly hard to get through because all of my history knowledge is fighting every word I read, shouting at me that Elizabeth would not behave this way. She was a Boleyn and a Tudor, she was strong willed, loved herself and had self preservation above all, and safe guarded her throne for more than half a century. Gregory has cut down one the strongest females political players in history to a sniveling, love obsessed, mindless, pathetic, emotional 14 year old girl. She loved Dudley, that it true and well documented... but this depiction is outrageous. Where is the spine of her mother, where is the pride of her father? Both traits that seem to have been completely glistened over. In short, if you like books about powerful/ strong women... DON'Y BUY THIS ONE !
Date published: 2008-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Royal Treat! Queen Elizabeth has always been a fastinating person in my mind. I always thought her rise the the throne was justice for her mom being beheaded! This book is awesome, a tale of the rise of one of the greatest queens. Miss Gregory does an excellent job bringing Elizabeth to life. I highly recommend this book - alone or part of the series! Grab a latte, curl up and enjoy :)
Date published: 2008-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic read! I really enjoyed this book, as I have every other Philippa Gregory I have read. Her books are wonderfully researched, and though many of the characters are less than admirable, her skilled storytelling makes them captivating nonetheless. It is fascinating to be given another person’s perspective on such a well-known figure as Queen Elizabeth I, and to learn more about the period during which she was ruler. This book is on my to-buy list, and I would also highly recommend “The Constant Princess,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” and “The Queen’s Fool” to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and English history in particular.
Date published: 2006-04-05

Read from the Book

Autumn 1558All the bells in Norfolk were ringing for Elizabeth, pounding the peal into Amy's head, first the treble bell screaming out like a mad woman, and then the whole agonizing, jangling sob till the great bell boomed a warning that the whole discordant carillon was about to shriek out again. She pulled the pillow over her head to shut out the sound, and yet still it went on, until the rooks abandoned their nests and went streaming into the skies, tossing and turning in the wind like a banner of ill omen, and the bats left the belfry like a plume of black smoke as if to say that the world was upside down now, and day should be forever night.Amy did not need to ask what the racket was for; she already knew. At last, poor sick Queen Mary had died, and Princess Elizabeth was the uncontested heir. Praise be. Everyone in England should rejoice. The Protestant princess had come to the throne and would be England's queen. All over the country people would be ringing bells for joy, striking kegs of ale, dancing in the streets, and throwing open prison doors. The English had their Elizabeth at last, and the fear-filled days of Mary Tudor could be forgotten. Everyone in England was celebrating.Everyone but Amy.The peals, pounding Amy into wakefulness, did not bring her to joy. Amy, alone in all of England, could not celebrate Elizabeth's upward leap to the throne. The chimes did not even sound on key, they sounded like the beat of jealousy, the scream of rage, the sobbing shout of a deserted woman."God strike her dead," she swore into her pillow as her head rang with the pound of Elizabeth's bells. "God strike her down in her youth and her pride and her beauty. God blast her looks, and thin her hair, and rot her teeth, and let her die lonely and alone. Deserted, like me."Amy had no word from her absent husband: she did not expect one. Another day went by and then it was a week. Amy guessed that he would have ridden at breakneck pace to Hatfield Palace from London at the first news that Queen Mary was dead. He would have been the first, as he had planned, the very first to kneel before the princess and tell her she was queen.Amy guessed that Elizabeth would already have a speech prepared, some practiced pose to strike, and for his part Robert would already have his reward in mind. Perhaps even now he was celebrating his own rise to greatness as the princess celebrated hers. Amy, walking down to the river to fetch in the cows for milking because the lad was sick and they were shorthanded at Stanfield Hall, her family's farm, stopped to stare at the brown leaves unraveling from an oak tree and whirling like a snowstorm, southwest to Hatfield where her husband had blown, like the wind itself, to Elizabeth.She knew that she should be glad that a queen had come to the throne who would favor him. She knew she should be glad for her family, whose wealth and position would rise with Robert's. She knew that she should be glad to be Lady Dudley once more: restored to her lands, given a place at court, perhaps even made a countess.But she was not. She would rather have had him at her side as an attainted traitor, with her in the drudgery of the day and in the warm silence of the night; anything rather than than ennobled as the handsome favorite at another woman's court. She knew from this that she was a jealous wife; and jealousy was a sin in the eyes of God.She put her head down and trudged on to the meadows where the cows grazed on the thin grass, churning up sepia earth and flints beneath their clumsy hooves.How could we end up like this? she whispered to the stormy sky piling up a brooding castle of clouds over Norfolk. Since I love him so much, and since he loves me? Since there is no one for us but each other? How could he leave me to struggle here, and dash off to her? How could it start so well, in such wealth and glory as it did, and end in hardship and loneliness like this?Copyright © 2004 by Philippa Gregory Limited

Bookclub Guide

Reading Group Guide 1. Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley were childhood playmates and also have in common the experience of being accused of treason and locked in the tower. How does Dudley use this shared history to influence Elizabeth? Is he successful? 2. What is your opinion of Amy? She says about Dudley, "In his heart I know that he is still the young man that I fell in love with who wanted nothing more than some good pasture land to breed beautiful horses" (105). Has Amy completely misjudged her husband, particularly how ambitious a man he is? 3. Elizabeth appoints Dudley Master of the Horse and later awards him the Order of the Garter. Why doesn't she appoint him to a position of political power, such as a member of the Privy Council? Dudley and William Cecil each want to be the more favored advisor to the queen. How does each man go about trying to accomplish this? Would you say they are rivals? 4. In many ways the politics of the court is like a dangerous game, fueled by rampant corruption and scheming families angling for wealth and favors from the queen. Cite some examples that illustrate this, including the people who are closest to Elizabeth. 5. It is Cecil's "deep-rooted belief that the intelligence of a woman, even one as formidably educated as [Elizabeth], could not carry the burden of too much information, and the temperament of a woman, especially this one, was not strong enough to take decisions" (93). Is Cecil underestimating Elizabeth? Discuss the way the men of the court and the Privy Council view women in general and Elizabeth, as the monarch, in particular. 6. Elizabeth, believing she is being pursued by an assassin, runs to the Diary House at Kew to seek safety with Dudley. How does this encounter mark a turning point in their relationship? 7. Dudley remarks to Cecil about the Earl of Arran, "If it's not one damned opportunity seeker, it is another. To what end?" (226). Can the same be said of him? Does he truly care about Elizabeth, or is his courtship of her to satisfy his own ambition? 8. Elizabeth says to Dudley, "I have to play myself like a piece in a chess game....I have to keep the Spanish on our side, I have to frighten the French, I have to persuade Arran to get himself up to Scotland and claim his own, and I have nothing to bring to bear on any of these but my own weight. All I can promise any of them is myself" (228). How does Elizabeth use the marriage game to her advantage as a political maneuver? 9. When Dudley visits Amy at Hayes Court, he finds his wife changed and is at a loss about "how to manage this strange new Amy" (258). How do their conversations -- while they are out riding and later in their chamber -- show how Amy has changed? If you were in Amy's position, would you have allowed Dudley to walk away from the marriage? 10. Compare Robert's feelings for Elizabeth and Amy. Amy says to her stepmother, "He loved me once, but everyone thought he condescended to the marriage, and it was always true that he thought very highly of himself. But with her it is different. He is a man transformed. She is his lover but still his queen, he admires her as well as desires her....He aspires to love her, whereas I was always an easy love" (279). Is Amy right? 11. When does Elizabeth begin to realize that she cannot marry Dudley and also remain on the throne? Why is there such hostility toward Robert Dudley from the members of the Privy Council and other nobility, as well as from the commoners? Is it justified? In numerous instances Elizabeth says that she cannot live without Robert or rule without him by her side. Why, then, does she ultimately decide giving him up is the right course of action? 12. In reference to Mary of Guise, the regent of Scotland, Cecil says to Elizabeth, "I have no objection in theory to assassination as an act of state. It could be a great saver of life and a guarantee of safety for others" (314). Applying this same logic to Amy, can Cecil justify her death as "a great saver of life and a guarantee of safety for others"? Do you think Elizabeth knew Cecil was referring to Amy when he told her that if he carried out his plan to prevent her from marrying Dudley, one person would die? 13. When Elizabeth asks if he is bothered by Amy's death, Dudley replies, "She was my wife of eleven years. Of course I grieve for her" (417). Do you believe Dudley is truly remorseful that Amy is dead, or is it more about the circumstances of her death and what it means for his political ambitions? 14. When Dudley finds his signet ring among Amy's possessions, he knows Elizabeth had a part in what happened. What conclusions does he come to about why Elizabeth might have done this? Ultimately, does Dudley reconcile himself to not being the king of England? 15. The Author's Note reveals several significant pieces of information: 1) Dudley wrote a letter to Elizabeth on his deathbed, which she then had with her when she died, 2) Dudley married Laetitia Knollys, and 3) historical records verify Elizabeth made incriminating remarks to the Spanish ambassador prior to Amy's death. Did finding out these things change your view of any aspects of the story? Do you believe Amy Dudley was murdered? 16. History has remembered Elizabeth as one of England's greatest rulers. What is your opinion of Elizabeth as a monarch, as this book depicts her in the first years of her reign? From what you learned about her in The Virgin's Lover, what characteristics and qualities do you think made her a successful ruler?

Editorial Reviews

"No lover of Elizabethan history should be without this novel, nor will any fan be disappointed with the meticulous research and marvelous portraits of Elizabeth, Dudley, and the court."
-- Romantic Times