Full of Books

Legacy by Susan Kay Review

Title: Legacy

Author: Susan Kay

First published January 1, 1983

647 pages, Mass Market Paperback

ISBN: 9780380703227 (ISBN10: 038070322X)

Rating: 4.14


Susan Kay’s Legacy is a masterpiece that provides a mesmerizing glimpse into the life of the Queen who defined an era. This stunning portrayal of Elizabeth I takes readers on a journey through her tragic childhood, ruthless confrontations with Mary, Queen of Scots, and her reign as Europe’s most celebrated monarch.

Kay weaves a captivating image of Elizabeth the woman, proud, passionate, and intense, who inspired men to love her deeply and curse the pain of that devotion. This premier exploration of the Virgin Queen is sure to satisfy both new readers and die-hard fans of the Tudors, providing an intriguing answer to the central mystery of her life and the destinies of the three men who belonged to her alone.

About the Author

Meet Susan Kay, a renowned writer born in 1953. Her literary prowess is best exemplified by her book, Phantom.

This masterpiece expands on the life of Erik, the protagonist from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. It is presented in an episodic format of seven chapters, each narrated from different characters’ points of view.

Susan Kay did not travel to Iran to research this novel. However, she did visit the Paris Opera House to conduct research in person.

Before venturing into writing, Susan Kay worked as a primary school teacher. She later left to raise a family.

Her first novel, Legacy, won both the Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize and the Betty Trask Award in 1985.

Currently, Susan Kay resides in Cheshire with her husband and two children.

Editoral Review

Legacy by Susan Kay is a historical fiction novel first published in 1983. Kay is a British author known for her historical novels, and Legacy is no exception.

Readers who enjoy the likes of Philippa Gregory or Jean Plaidy will find Kay’s work as a suitable choice in their reading list. Set in the Tudor era, Legacy explores the life of Elizabeth I and parallels it with the life of Anne Boleyn, her mother.

Kay’s work offers a unique perspective into the Tudor era. The book is broken down into three parts, each focused on a different period of Elizabeth’s life.

The novel’s first part deals with Anne Boleyn’s life and death, which is shown in great detail. Readers are represented with a multifaceted character, one who can be cruel as well as kind, manipulative as well as sympathetic.

Anne’s tactics and schemes to stay in the king’s favor are laid out as the author shows the fear and anxiety of a woman who knows that her power and position are not secure.

Kay then shifts attention to Elizabeth, her daughter, who is often overshadowed by her mother’s memory, and her struggle to win back her rightful place in the royal court.

Kay’s Elizabeth is a strong and dominant character, often seen as a pioneer in positioning women to have a role of importance in the kingdom. She is depicted as an independent thinker, who refuses to be manipulated by anyone, including the men who intend to marry her.

So strong is Elizabeth that even in moments of weakness or fear, Kay captures the essence of the character and portrays her as someone with unwavering determination.

The novel’s setting is rich in detail and historicity.

Kay provides readers with detailed descriptions of royalty, their clothes, manners, and courtly rituals. She blends her historical detail with dramatic elements from the lives of her characters, creating a world that feels as real as the current world.

While the details are breathtaking, the pacing slows in some areas, and the novel drags at times, especially towards the end.

Yet, Kay’s significant strength lies in her character development.

She does an excellent job of breathing life into historical figures, painting them with nuance and depth. Her characters are human, with flaws and virtues, and Kay shows their growth and maturity throughout the novel.

The themes explored in the novel are also relevant to modern society. Legacy examines the role of women in positions of power and questions the double standards they face.

The book also deals with issues of isolation, fear, and survival.

Overall, Legacy by Susan Kay is an engaging and thoughtful novel set in the Tudor period.

It is an exceptional addition to historical fiction’s extensive realm and one that is worth the time and effort. However, readers who are not fans of historical fiction may struggle with the novel’s pacing and detail.

Nonetheless, Kay’s style of storytelling and her attention to detail made Legacy an outstanding read for fans of the genre. With a captivating plot, well-crafted characters, and engaging themes, Kay’s novel is one that I would highly recommend.

I give it a score of 4 out of 5 stars.