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The Virgin's Lover

Written by: Philippa Gregory
Narrated by: Graeme Malcolm
Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins

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Publisher's Summary

In the autumn of 1558, church bells across England ring out the joyous news that Elizabeth I is the new queen. But one woman hears the tidings with utter dread. Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, knows that the peal of bells she hears will summon her husband once more to power, intrigue, and a passionate love affair with the young queen.

Elizabeth's excited triumph is short-lived. She has inherited a bankrupt country in which treason is normal and foreign war a certainty. Her faithful advisor, William Cecil, warns her that she will survive only if she marries a strong prince to govern the rebellious country. But the one man Elizabeth desires is her childhood friend, the irresistible, ambitious Robert Dudley.

Only Robert truly revels in the opportunities of the new reign. He knows he can reclaim his destiny at Elizabeth's side. Elizabeth cannot resist his courtship, and as the young couple slowly falls in love, Robert starts to think the impossible: could he set aside his wife and marry the young queen?

Philippa Gregory paints a portrait of a country on the brink of greatness, a young woman grasping at power, a young man whose ambition is greater than his means, and the wife who cannot forgive them.

©2004 Philippa Gregory (P)2004 Simon and Schuster Inc. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon and Schuster Audio Division, Simon and Schuster Inc.

What the critics say

  • Audie Award Finalist, Romance, 2005

"An engaging story." (Booklist)
"Best-seller Gregory captivates again with this expertly crafted historical about the beautiful young Virgin Queen....Gregory amasses a wealth of colorful period detail to depict the shaky first days of Elizabeth I's reign." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amy
  • 2006-10-23

Not for Elizabeth fans

I enjoy reading about Queen Elizabeth, and I also enjoy fictionalized history (a la Tracy Chevalier) but this book was disappointing. I know it is fiction, but it painted a picture of a whiny and powerless Elizabeth. That tone ruined the entire story for me. Did not enjoy it at all.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • 2004-12-21

Interesting new twist on the

This book is extremely well written, while bringing to the table an entirely new point of view - that of Leicester's wife, Amy Robsart Dudley. I have always wondered about her, and this was a fascinating journey into her experiences, based on historical fact. Elizabeth appears in this novel in all of her sparkling glory, but very human as well. Phillipa Gregory injects the wild ride of political intrigue into the story, as we jump back an forth between Amy and the court. I wish I could read it again. My only complaint is the length - I would have read twice the length!

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amber
  • 2009-06-22

Don't Read The Abridged Version

I was disappointed to find that I had wasted my time with the "Abridged" version. Philippa Gregory does such a beautiful job developing her characters and describing the time period.

Gregory's stories typically build a beautiful crescendo with a fluid telling. The abridged version was choppy, disjointed and a complete discredit to the author. Hope I never make that mistake again. Looking forward to actually reading this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Peggy
  • 2006-01-20

Buyer Beware!

I purchased this book because I enjoy reading about Elizabeth I (and I had never read a Phillipa Gregory book before.) I will say that I gained something: I will not be tempted to waste time and money on another Phillipa Gregory book. I had expected that the strong character of Elizabeth I would prove a dynamic catalyst for this novel of the Queen's relationship with Robert Dudley. What I got instead was a simpering, ineffective and often pathetic Queen saved from herself by Dudley and her counselor Cecil, by turns. I am fully aware this was a NOVEL, not meant to be fact. However, I believe it does a tremendous injustice to her subject, and to all those people less informed about the real Elizabeth I, who will stumble on to this travesty and believe it to be based on fact. A novel depicting the complexity of the love, shared experiences and inter-dependence of Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley could have been engaging, enlightening, and exciting. This novel is certainly not it. That being said, it was well written for a romance novel, so if that is your interest, go for it. I suppose it really matters little whose breast swells, and whose heart pounds.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nik
  • 2012-07-21


Would you listen to The Virgin's Lover again? Why?

Yes. Because it is a good narration and story.

What did you like best about this story?

The historical time period and court intrigue.

Which character – as performed by Graeme Malcolm – was your favorite?

Robert Dudley.

Who was the most memorable character of The Virgin's Lover and why?

Cecil. He was amazingly devoted to the queen and coniving.

Any additional comments?

Queen Elizabeth & Lord Robert Dudley were SCANDALOUS! The queen got on my nerves at times with her "Im a simple woman who cant make decisions without a man" demeanor at times. But in the end, she did what she needed. I prefer a more ruthless Queen, but cant win them all. Great narration. Great story. So vivid. Saucey when needed for pearl clutching. Loved it!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lori
  • 2010-12-01

Queen Elizabeth...

She was beloved and turned out to be a great Queen. This story shows her weaknesses when she is first crowned and the men she turned to - I think they were lovers but I'm not sure that this all happened but I enjoyed listening - am having to drive to Kansas from Colorado a lot these days and these stories are wonderful for that 8 hour's worth the money and enjoy as I did!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Trisha B
  • 2009-07-30


This was the most uneventful, boring book that I have ever listened to. I hate to comment so negatively because two other Philippa Gregory books were outstanding - The Constant Princess and The Other Bolyn Girl. Don't bother with this one!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • J. Clark
  • 2008-03-17

good story; poor history

I agree with most of the other reviewers (interestingly we primarily seem to be women) in that the portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in this work seems to be contrary to everything I've ever learned. I've never seen her portrayed as so fickle and spineless, being swayed by whomever spoke to her last. That is misleading.

The story is good in that it holds your attention, but the spin on Elizabeth is fallacious. Such a queen would have been long forgotten.

I gave it two stars instead of three because there is so little actual history represented. It's a personal preference, but I really like history in my historical fiction. KWIM?

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel Youmans
  • 2007-05-24

Don't waste your time or money

I agree with almost all of these reviews. This book makes Elizabeth into a powerless slut who can't do anything without a man. She's probably rolling over in her grave.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Diazocat
  • 2007-03-12

Disappointing picture of a woman

This book annoyed me as I've always thought of Queen Elizabeth as a strong woman. This story portrayed Elizabeth as a nervous, weak-willed, indecisive puppet controlled by the men around her. It was fine as a story, but decidedly unsatisfying if you envision Elizabeth as a powerful monarch who was ahead of her time.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful