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Summary

Their affair is the scandal of Europe…Queen Elizabeth cannot resist her dashing but married Master of Horse, Lord Robert Dudley. Many believe them to be lovers. The formidable young Queen is regarded by most as a bastard and a heretic, yet many seek her hand in marriage.

Desperately insecure, Elizabeth embarks on a perilous balancing act, using sex and high-powered diplomacy to play what becomes known as The Marriage Game.

©2014 Alison Weir (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd

What listeners say about The Marriage Game

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Bodice ripper, mills & boons rather than historical novel

If you are looking for a story of romance, a woman in love pining for a man she can never really call her own, read to you in breathless tones of dramatic longing, 'The Marriage Game' by Alison Weir, read by Julia Franklin, is your best bet.

If you are looking for a historical novel and enjoy the 'historical' in that genre as much as the 'novel', if your focus is on good storytelling, not on exaggerated unverifyable feelings, it is not. Here, one of history's greatest queens is portrayed as a lovesick whiney girl. Ms Franklin's delivery makes it even more cheesy. Every page the same breathy melodrama.

5 people found this helpful

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Good history; weak characterisation

I love Alison Weir's history writing and this is my first go a one of her novels. My main problem is Elizabeth herself. There is no sense of her being clever or subtle or of her tremendous learning. I certainly don't get any sense of her as a stateswoman. She's portrayed as shallow, vain, selfish, and generally irritating. Maybe she was those things but it's a one-dimensional portrayal that is wearying to spend 16 hours with. Alison Weir's choice of language doesn't help; Elizabeth "shrieks" and is "strident".

Robert Dudley comes out best in terms of having an actual 2 dimensional character. I believed in his love for Elizabeth despite everything.

Julia Franklin is fine but Elizabeth generally sounds shrill although that may be the way she is written.

Alison Weir is a good historian so that side of things is good. I think I'll stick to her non-fiction in future. I got through my History A Level on Jean Plaidy's which helped get the characters and events into my mind so maybe you could use this in a similar way ;)

Overall meh.

5 people found this helpful

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Great historian, underwhelming novelist

Alison Weir's strengths as a popular historian are the very same things which, in a novelist, are weaknesses - in particular, the clear explanation and repetition of what happened, the reiteration of things that you might not have caught the first time, the clarification of who is who and what their relationships to one another are. The result is stilted conversation that reads like bad radio drama. The characters are constantly (and unconvincingly) explaining their actions, or cramming historical facts into dialogue in a very unlikely way. It's obviously hard to build suspense or characterisation in any story where all the readers already know what happened; but it can be done, as the best books of Philippa Gregory or Hilary Mantel show us. The reader does her best here, but the storytelling is unsophisticated and predictable.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent all round.

Story teller is brilliant and brings this excellent book alive. Awesome. Would definitely recommend this.

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A good, engaging story- some funny and frustrating moments!

I really enjoyed this story- having listened to many Tudor/Plantagenet historical fiction stories in my time, I always have high expectations and I this one didn't disappoint. At first I was unsure of the narration, but it did not take long to adapt to, and enjoy the voices and intonation of the narrator.
The plot is often fast moving and lively, keeping the listener engaged and I felt a great deal of empathy and emotions for some characters (Elizabeth, Robert & Cecil) which is a sign of a good writer. I definitely recommend this :)

2 people found this helpful

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Not her best

Would you try another book written by Alison Weir or narrated by Julia Franklin?

Yes. Ms Weir is a respected and clever historian. I have many of her previous books.

Would you ever listen to anything by Alison Weir again?

Of course. For the reasons stated above. I often relisten to her work as her knowlege of the Tudor period is excellent

Did Julia Franklin do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

Yes and no - I wasn't that impressed with her interpretation of Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester and her performance of the Spanish ambassador at the time of Elizabeth I left me cold.

What character would you cut from The Marriage Game?

I don't think I'd remove any of them - they all played a part in the story as it unfolded so they are all important.

Any additional comments?

As mentioned, I've listened to many of Ms. Weir's work and enjoyed the fact that they are all produced as a result of her own research from records and information available from the time she is writing about. She is a well respected historian and I don't really understand why she has gone down this route at all. The story in itself in fascinating enough - don't really get why she felt she had to for the want of a better word 'fictionalise' it or persue in such detail the sexual side of Elizabeth's relationship with Dudley.

2 people found this helpful

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Not the Best

Normally I like Alison Weir's books but not this one. I stuck with it till the end hoping it might improve but sadly, for me, it didn't.

Historical accurate to a good extent with the back ground things it kinda lost it all in the portrayal of Elizabeth her self with. added irritation of that silly girly type voice the narrator chose for her.

Elizabeth was not a 20th Century character and even with her liking of pushing boundaries here and there it was still the 1500's so a lot of the embellishment using known rumours as fact and then adding to it didn't, for me. work.

Maybe the problem with me is I do know history and therefore know Elizabeth was not a silly teenager who grew up to be a silly woman. Elizabeth knew she had enemies who would happily see her beheaded from a young age. Had she been the Elizabeth in this book she would not have survived to become queen.

1 person found this helpful

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Awful book

Did it meet my expectations? Hell no!!!! It was awful!!! If I could, I'd have gone into the book & wrung Elizabeth's neck just to put myself out of my misery.

3 people found this helpful