Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Elizabeth in the Garden-Trea Martyn

Elizabeth in the Garden

Trea Martyn

Bluebridge, Jan 1 2012, $22.95

ISBN: 9781933346366

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, two men competed for the favors of her Highness. Lord Treasurer William Cecil and Earl Robert Dudley used elaborate gardens to lure the monarch to spend time at their respective estates as both understood how much Elizabeth loved a garden. Each spent a fortune to create marvelous horticultural masterpieces. In 1575 the years old competition hits a new height when the Queen visits Cecil’s incredible wonder Theobalds and from there to Dudley’s Kenilworth where three years earlier excessive extravagance led to tragedy. Theobalds was amazing one of the wonders of the era, but Kenilworth became the highlight film of the Tudor reign. Having lost the garden combat, Cecil does what all politicians believe is their birthright to run a misinformation campaign to paint his adversary with scandalous behavior especially with Dudley’s tryst with the Countess of Essex enabling the success of the Treasurer as Elizabeth never returned to Kenilworth.

Elizabeth in the Garden is great unbelievably fresh look at the queen through the two main males in her life (besides her late father). Each uses the monarch’s love of gardens (when her sister sat on the throne, she enjoyed walking the Garden of the Tower where she also met Dudley) to their advantage; no one else in the queen’s retinue came close. Readers learn much about Cecil the advisor and Dudley the lover whose competition to win the soul of Elizabeth I played out in a horticultural arena as their rivalry was the English fight of the century.

Harriet Klausner

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