Royally screwed: Elizabeth I’s fictional diary

The Royal Diaries: Elizabeth I Red Rose of the House of Tudor by Kathryn Lasky

The Royal Diaries is a lengthy series of fictionalize accounts of real princesses written in the form of a diary. I have no idea why I picked this one particularly, although I do enjoy Tudor history, so I’m assuming that had something to do with it. I was not expecting great literature, just a piece of historical fiction written for girls, and in that, I was right. But it was still pretty good.

The story is of Princess Elizabeth, destined to become Queen Elizabeth I, near the end of her father, Henry VIII’S life. She starts writing in her diary because she’s lonely, exiled from court after she offends her father. The story follows her journey back to court, her relationship with her half siblings, Edward and Mary, some of her other friends, her relationship with her Catherine Parr and the other women she has called mother, and her own uncertain future, all the way through to the death of her father.

It wasn’t a masterpiece or anything. It was just a book for kids. A book meant to teach girls history in a sneaky way and to contextualize being a girl in a history that usually forgets them. This are good things, worth reading even if they aren’t staggering works of literature.

Two things that I thought were unusually nice about this book. One was the historical accuracy. This is not a Sexy-Tudor style depiction of the 1500s. Elizabeth regularly documents the way the court reeks from all the people and waste and rotting food in the castles, and they move to different courts regularly to escape the smell. She talks about the common diseases everyone catches and passes on, how rarely the she baths and how much she hates lice and fleas which infest every court. Spend time reading historical fiction and it’s easy to daydream about that time. Read this book and you’re so grateful you’re living now. Like, I can bath any time I want and I will never, ever stop being grateful for that.

I also enjoyed Elizabeth’s struggle to feel loved and accepted. Her father doesn’t have time for her particularly, with his coveted son and Mary, his oldest child – Elizabeth isn’t even the spare, she’s the daughter of the woman he executed for witchcraft.  By far the most intelligent of her siblings, she’s always striving for his love. Her newest mother Catherine Parr is invested in her future too and is the best mother she remembers, but even so, as Queen she’s busy and far away most of the time. Yet, Elizabeth’s loyalty to them both is absolute and all she wants is their love. You know, probably something a child from a broken home could really understand.

I’d recommend these books to kids with good reading skills, although there are some questions that might come up for older kids (Elizabeth mentions getting her period so ten bonus points for that, there’s a scandalous sexual affair that’s hinted at) but I think these are all good things.

Last movie I watched:

Milk. Everyone who gets confused about why Pride is a thing needs to watch that movie.

Last TV episode I watched:

Supernatural. This show used to be awesome. Now it’s just fun. But in a stupid way.

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