At the age of 6 Elizabeth(Bess) Hardwick and her family are evicted from their home, Hardwick Manor and forced to live with her mother's sister. A few years later Bess is sent to live with a wealthy family as an unpaid companion to the young girls in the family. Bess learns her lessons about living in the upper classes of England during the final years of Henry VIII reign well. She makes friends easily and is a favorite of all the young people and the adults. She is easily one of the most beautiful young women in England. One of the friends she develops in Princess Elizabeth. She has also caught the eye of William Cavandish and 40 something married man on the political rise and young George Talbot, future Earl of Shrewsbury.
She falls in love with Cavandish but at 16 she is forced to marry Robert Barlow to save Hardwick Manor from being lost forever to the family. Barlow is very ill with lung disease and dies several months later. She returns to London to resume her position and is given to a wealthier family and paid wages. She resumes her friendship with Cavandish and when his wife dies they marry. He is the love of her life and during their marriage have 6 children. He teaches her everything he knows about land management and real estate. The political situation in England becomes less and less stable and under the stress Cavandish dies from a heart attack leaving Bess heavily in Debt.Bess vows never to love again. When Elizabeth takes the throne she brings Bess to the palace. Bess learns that Elizabeth I is more queen than friend when she forces Bess to marry Sir William St Loe.
Bess knows more about the queen than anyone and as a result of this she is sent to the Tower and left there for 8 months. She is rescued by George Talbot. George has been married since he was 12 years olds but that does not stop him from wanting Bess. She is released from the Tower to find her husband very ill. He eventually dies having left her most of his fortune. George tries to make her his mistress. He is easily the wealthiest man in England next to the monarchy. She is about to give in to her desire for him when his wife dies from a stroke. They are caught making love by one of his older children and marry to save Bess's reputation.
This book is about a woman driven by ambition, first for herself and later for her children.She overcomes impossible odds during some of the most politically insecure times in English history and survives it all.
This report prepared by plnorth
In 16th century England, Bess Hardwick becomes friends with the future queen. Throughout the book, the friendship is questioned by both parties. Virginia Henley is superb at creating stories that both tantalize and shock. This is not your typical romance or your typical heroine. Bess proves that she is made of stronger stuff and does what it takes to remain on top.
This report prepared by Yvette