Just flesh and blood by Jane Caro

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University of Queensland Press, 2018. ISBN 9780702260018
(Age: Children - Young adult) Recommended. Themes: Historical Fiction (1500-1600 England Royalty). Just Flesh and Blood is the last novel in the Trilogy which include Just A Girl and Just a Queen which depicts the life of the very famous and long reigning Queen Elizabeth 1, Protestant Queen of England and Ireland. The story is told from the perspective of the Queen as a flesh and blood person with emotions, love, intellect and daily personal and political struggles.
Queen Elizabeth 1 is a woman in a man's world who had accomplished much more than was ever expected for any Royal during an extremely long period of 44 years of reign. Her main concern was always for the welfare of her people and country and as such she became as a mother to them all. But, she still craved loving attention and acknowledgment from her father (Henry VIII) and although she was a young child when her beautiful mother Anne Boleyn died, Elizabeth never resolved her grief and guilt. Her loving mother was beheaded, sentenced to death by a husband King. Elizabeth was always well aware that if she had been born a boy, a successor to the Tudor throne, her mother would have been in the King's favor and she would not have met such a terrible fate. Elizabeth was born a princess and through political motives she was declared as 'illegitimate', hence unimportant and mostly unseen by those in the majesty's court.
As Queen Elizabeth 1, lies on the floor and then on her death bed, she drifts in and out of sleep. She is reflecting on her life and she is assessing herself and her path of destiny which she diligently worked hard throughout. Has she done enough? Would her father and mother be proud of her? Has she failed them, made a mistake, by remaining a maiden Queen and not marrying or bearing children to carry on the Tudor family reign? Who would be the first person that she meets in the afterlife?
Although I came across this last book in the trilogy and have not read the previous two, Jane Caro does a marvelous job in summarizing the Queen's life during her final days, hence, the storyline flows well and the reader is not left feeling confused or as though parts of the story are missing. In fact, it leaves the reader wanting to read/re-read the trilogy set without pause and the writing skill of Jane Caro is such that the reader will find it difficult to put down the books.
This book is a marvelous way to learn some history of the Royals of England. It motivates the reader to delve into further research about the era and come to know Queen Elizabeth 1 not only as a great ruler, stern and at times merciless Queen - but as a child, young girl and woman living an exceptional life in a difficult time.
About the Author - Jane Caro Jane Caro is often a guest on the Channel 9's Weekend Sunrise and Gruen Planet. A busy 60 something year old who keeps herself busy as a novelist, columnist and novelist. Jane has won awards for her ability to write outstanding, "to the point" and relatable advertising material.
Maria Burford