Review: Young Bess by Margaret Irwin

Young Bess
by Margaret Irwin

Young Bess is the first book in Margaret Irwin’s Elizabeth I Trilogy and it covers the time of Elizabeth’s life from right before her father, Henry VIII dies to a few years into the reign of her brother, Edward VI.

After the death of Henry VIII, Elizabeth is sent to live with her step-mother, Catherine Parr and her new husband (and Elizabeth’s uncle) Thomas Seymour. Thomas is an infamous ladies man and turns his masculine wiles to young Elizabeth. He flirts with her shamelessly and even in front of Catherine, who dismisses it as nothing, much to her detriment. For Elizabeth is growing up and discovering the sway she has on men and she’s finding that she kinda likes it. With a father and mother as passionate as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn were, this little acorn did not fall far from the tree where that’s concerned. But, Thomas is treading a thin line here with his attempt to seduce a princess of England and a future Queen…will his passion and ambition serve as his downfall?

Young Bess also touches on the power struggle between the Seymour brothers, Ned and Thomas over the governing of the realm while Edward VI is still a child. Edward VI features prominently and it was nice to see things from his point of view…and boy, is he his father’s son or what?!

Overall, Young Bess is an interesting read. I think it’s more suited for a younger audience, but that doesn’t mean that adults won’t enjoy it. Irwin has a unique writing style that I was too particularly fond of, but that’s just me and it seems that other people like it.

All that said, I do look forward to the second book in the trilogy, Elizabeth, Captive Princess which tells of her life during the reign of her sister, Mary and her fight for the throne. I enjoy anything about Elizabeth I and it’s always interesting to see how authors differ with their portrayal. That’s the great thing about historical fiction!




  1. Good review Amy! This was my first read by Irwin, & I agree the writing seemed different than I had expected. I still really enjoyed it, thinking that the writing style could have closely mirrored the thoughts of Young Bess at that time. My review is schedule for Monday. =)

  2. This sounds like a book I would enjoy. I will have to add it to my TBR list. I keep visiting blogs and adding books. Soon my list will stretch to the year 2011. lol. I hope you will come visit me to!

  3. I just finished this one as well.

  4. Will be nice to see "Bess" develop from girl to women from the viewpoint of an author. It is always interesting to see how different authors view characters and events.

  5. I have a really old copy of this book (1940s) that I haven't read. It sounds a lot like Robin Maxwell's 'Virgin' with the storyline at least. Thanks for the review :)

  6. I think this is the first time I am seeing Elizabeth as a young girl growing up and the powerful effect she realizes she has on people around her.


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