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Elizabeth & Mary
By Jane Dunn
Read by Isla Blair

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Elizabeth & Mary -
Cousins, Rivals, Queens

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Elizabeth & Mary Cousins, Rivals, Queens
By Jane Dunn
Read by Isla Blair
Random House Audio, (2004)
An Abridged Audio Recording on 4 Cassettes
ISBN: 0-7393-0981-1
Genre: Biography, History

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - February 17, 2004

Mary, Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth I of England are two historical icons whose very names still evoke strong emotions. Was Elizabeth really the 'virginal ice queen' and Mary the unfortunate cousin who was bullied to death by her jealous rival? In Elizabeth & Mary - Cousins, Rivals, Queens, Jane Dunn takes a compelling look at the lives of these two powerful women.

In this amazing account, read by accomplished audiobook narrator, Isla Blair. Dunn explores the personal and public personas of Elizabeth and Mary. In the process she provides insights into life in Elizabethan England, and just how remarkable it was that these two women managed to overcome the barriers arrayed before them in a world that was dominated by men.

In telling the tale of these women, Dunn provides an overview of their early lives and their public personas. She also provides unique insights into their private lives, including their loves, their religious believes, and internal thought processes. By providing such a well-rounded and intimate survey of their lives, Dunn turns these mythical figures into flesh and blood characters that enable modern readers to understand why they acted the way they did, and to fully appreciate the difficulties that they faced during their respective reigns. These details also help to explain why Elizabeth viewed Mary as such a threat, and the events and feelings that compelled Elizabeth to sign her cousins death warrant, and how Mary's death affected Elizabeth emotionally. These insights also help to explain the political and economic conditions that led to the rivalries between England and France, and why the French monarchy was willing to aid Scotland against England.

In writing this account, Dunn made extensive use of personal letters, and other contemporary written documents, many of which where composed by the two royal rivals. In selecting the material to be used in Elizabeth & Mary - Cousins, Rivals, Queens, Dunn elected to concentrate more upon the personal interactions that occurred between Elizabeth and Mary, rather than upon crafting a traditional biography or history. Separating myth from reality, Dunn has crafted a fascinating, joint biography, of these two women whose lives where inextricably entwined.


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