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Download Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens Audiobook, by Jane Dunn Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.94 out of 53.94 out of 53.94 out of 53.94 out of 53.94 out of 5 3.94 (33 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jane Dunn Narrator: Isla Blair Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2004 ISBN: 9780739309834
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The first dual biography of two of the world’s most remarkable women—Elizabeth I of England and Mary Queen of Scots—by one of Britain’s “best biographers” (The Sunday Times).

In a rich and riveting narrative, Jane Dunn reveals the extraordinary rivalry between the regal cousins. It is the story of two queens ruling on one island, each with a claim to the throne of England, each embodying dramatically opposing qualities of character, ideals of womanliness (and views of sexuality) and divinely ordained kingship. 

As regnant queens in an overwhelmingly masculine world, they were deplored for their femaleness, compared unfavorably with each other and courted by the same men. By placing their dynamic and ever-changing relationship at the center of the book, Dunn illuminates their differences. Elizabeth, inheriting a weak, divided country coveted by all the Catholic monarchs of Europe, is revolutionary in her insistence on ruling alone and inspired in her use of celibacy as a political tool—yet also possessed of a deeply feeling nature. Mary is not the romantic victim of history but a courageous adventurer with a reckless heart and a magnetic influence over men and women alike. Vengeful against her enemies and the more ruthless of the two queens, she is untroubled by plotting Elizabeth’s murder. Elizabeth, however, is driven to anguish at finally having to sanction Mary’s death for treason. Working almost exclusively from contemporary letters and writings, Dunn explores their symbiotic, though never face-to-face, relationship and the power struggle that raged between them.

A story of sex, power and politics, of a rivalry unparalleled in the pages of English history, of two charismatic women—told in a masterful double biography.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A perceptive, suspenseful account of complex English history. . . . By the end of this satisfying book, one feels sympathy for both women, brave queens in an age when ‘no one considered that a woman could effectively rule alone.’ The New York Times Book Review
  • Elegant. . . . Dunn demythologizes Elizabeth and Mary. In humanizing their dynamic and shifting relationship, Dunn describes it as fueled by both rivalry and their natural solidarity as women in an overwhlemingly masculine world. Boston Herald
  • A balanced, nuanced, and eminently clear account. . . . Brilliantly conceived, elegantly executed, and compellingly readable. Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • “A wholly engrossing and sumptuous retelling of a tale that entered legend even before its protagonists were dead. Newsday

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clare | 2/19/2014

    " I have always been fascinated by these two women of history. I grew up loving mary queen of scots, but as I have gotten older I have come to love Elizabeth more. This book was very well written and even someone who knew nothing about the period could follow along, although some things might need to be reviewed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle Cook | 2/17/2014

    " Loved this book for many reason! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leslie | 2/11/2014

    " loved this book. two women who forever changed European politics. it was great to learn more about each of them in relation to eachother. Dunn does a great job with it. I highly recommend this to any history buff... or lover of phillipa Gregory "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 2/6/2014

    " There are great books about Elizabeth and Mary as individuals but little that deals with their relationship and how their lives intertwined and how their political decisions impacted on each other so the premise of this book is good - but I wish it had been more memorable to read. It was well researched and engaging but it didn't have anything new to offer us in terms of perspective or insight. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patty | 1/30/2014

    " Nonfiction comparison of the two English queens. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ting | 1/15/2014

    " A wonderful dual biography of two intriguing women and monarchs. I have always been fascinated by both these charismatic and very different figures in history, their lives intertwined by their adjoining kingdoms, blood (they were cousins), and their common role as female monarchs. I have never thought much of Mary of Scots who seemed to let events, people, and her emotions run her but through this biography I can sympathise. She was raised to be a reigning Queen but a Queen who would be secondary to the ruling hand of a husband during a time when female monarchs were not highly esteemed or instilled confidence. Elizabeth I still stands out as a premier Prince, male or female, of her time. She was endowed with a human touch with her people and yet still maintained a regal presence. And although, she surrounded herself with a trusted group of counselors in the end, even with her frustrating vacillating she ruled and she ruled alone "with the heart and stomach of a king and a king of England" to become one of the greatest monarchs Europe had ever seen. I highly recommend this book and the insight it gives to two intriguing figures in history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicholas | 1/8/2014

    " Who doesn't love a good royal cat fight? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kara | 1/4/2014

    " This was a great book - a fascinating look into the lives of two rival queens - one destined for greatness, but succumbing to defeat. The other destined for defeat, and overcoming it with greatness. I've always been enamored with English royal history, and this was a really awesome book to read. It wasn't too heavy to get through, as most of these books tend to be. But it was a bit long - a necessary evil when you're talking about these two. I definitely recommend it!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eileen | 12/30/2013

    " I've read many biographies of these two queens but this one follows them in chronological order switching from one to another. I didn't learn anything new but it is always interesting to get a new spin. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Natalee | 11/23/2013

    " It was interesting to read about the history between these two Queens and the dynamics of their relationship to one another. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sarf | 11/6/2013

    " I didn't finish this- way too dry for me...... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jessamine | 10/15/2013

    " This book was too much to read in one month for a book club book. It was interesting but not that easy to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danita M | 10/8/2013

    " A fascinating look at the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. It gives background enough on the politics and society of the day to illuminate the reasons for the conflicts between them, but is not overwhelming or difficult to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth Vargas | 9/27/2013

    " Really loved this book, I learned so much about their relationship. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mandi Waller | 9/13/2013

    " I love history and British or American history are my favorites so this was sure to be a favorite. I loved the angle the biographer took in taking these two contemporary women (cousins) and comparing and contrasting their lives. Very interesting and intriguing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 3/15/2013

    " Interesting look at the lives of Elizabeth I & Mary Queen of Scots. Not a boring read. Was well written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Angie | 2/7/2013

    " The author exercises a fantastically intense vocabulary! Jane Dunn successfully authors a riveting dual biography about the "rival queens", revealing the strategy and personalities of the queens at hand. Really interesting read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathleen | 1/10/2013

    " Great! Don't tell my catholic parents, but I think Elizabeth rocks. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robyn | 10/12/2012

    " Wonderful book! It intertwines the two lives of these amazing women. It's very well written and not boring at all. I definitely recommend it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bettie | 10/11/2012

    " This is a good sober and solid rendition of two parallel lives. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chantay | 10/8/2012

    " One of my favorite books about two strong and determined Monarchs. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Colleen | 6/30/2012

    " Really dull read on a topic that is very interesting! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Evelyn | 3/4/2012

    " I love English history but the book was slow at some points. I listened to the book on tape which could have made a difference in my interest. Both women are amazing and I learned so much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heidi | 12/23/2011

    " Love this time in history. So interesting to read what their relationship was like "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 11/4/2011

    " Well written with a good resource list, explanation of each of the women and how their lives were connected to shape the history of United Kingdom. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natalie | 4/11/2011

    " It was a well written summary of the lives of both Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots. It portrayed a great story of the volatile relationship that existed between the two Queens. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jamie | 3/6/2011

    " Vastly interesting... I learned so much about the attitudes and points of view of each woman simply through their parallel lives and relationship to one another! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Luckngrace | 6/5/2010

    " Two of the most fascinating women in history. Can't help but feel pity for Mary and anger at Elizabeth, even if she was England's best (in my opinion) monarch. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Denise | 5/22/2010

    " This was such an exciting dual biography. I was expecting it to be long and boring, but it read like a good novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 4/14/2010

    " Dunn is not as exciting as Weir, but it's an interesting perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathleen | 1/5/2010

    " Great! Don't tell my catholic parents, but I think Elizabeth rocks. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eva | 11/16/2009

    " Excellent book--I really enjoyed it. Very informative and easy to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heidi | 11/8/2009

    " First off, I love Elizabethan England. For me this was a fascinating chronicle of these two women, their relationship and the religious struggles of that time. "

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About the Author
Author Jane Dunn

Jane Dunn is the author of a biography of Mary Shelley, a study of the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, and of a groundbreaking biography of the life of Antonia White. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Bath, England.

About the Narrator

Isla Blair is an India-born actress of British descent. She made her first stage appearance in 1963 as Philia in the London debut of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and her first credited film appearance in the 1965 horror film Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors.