Read The Girl in the Mirror by Sarah Gristwood Online


Jeanne, a young French exile orphaned by the wars of religion on the continent, is brought to London as a young girl disguised as a boy. Growing up, the disguise has not been shed and she finds a living as a clerk, ending up in the household of Robert Cecil. As she witnesses the intrigues and plots swirling round the court of Elizabeth I in the last days of Gloriana's reigJeanne, a young French exile orphaned by the wars of religion on the continent, is brought to London as a young girl disguised as a boy. Growing up, the disguise has not been shed and she finds a living as a clerk, ending up in the household of Robert Cecil. As she witnesses the intrigues and plots swirling round the court of Elizabeth I in the last days of Gloriana's reign, she finds herself sucked into the orbit of the dashing and ambitious young favourite, the Earl of Essex. The queen draws near to the end of her life, with no heir to follow, and the stakes are high. As Essex hurtles towards self-destruction, Jeanne finds her loyalties, her disguise and her emotions under threat -- in a political climate where the least mistake can attract dire penalties....

Title : The Girl in the Mirror
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007379040
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Girl in the Mirror Reviews

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2019-05-30 13:26

    Maybe a 3.5? Really original fictional reenactment of Essex's rebellion. Historically accurate told from several perspectives main one created by the author Excellent way to be introduced to this event in England's history Then I suggest reading The Lady Penelope about his sister by Sally Varlow2017 Reading Challenge: book recommended by an author I love

  • Smitha
    2019-06-21 14:46

    One of the few historical books that I have struggled to read through. I picked up the book because the story seemed very interesting. Jeanne Musset is an orphaned little girl who is smuggled into England dressed as a boy. She grows up in disguise and ends up working in the office of Sir Robert Cecil, at a time when Queen Elizabeth is aging, talk of her successor is raging and the court is full of intrigue. Somehow she catches the eye of Earl of Essex, and life changes for her. It seemed like a very interesting book, but something let it down. The writing was not interesting enough, made it boring and difficult to read through. It might have just been me, but sadly, I just did not enjoy this book.

  • Marita
    2019-06-02 19:41

    Historian turned novelist, Sarah Gristwood, has written a beautiful book about Elizabeth I and the Earl of Essex. Instead of the squalor that one usually reads about in that period of history, we have detailed descriptions of sumptious meals eaten by the nobility and of glorious gardens. However, there are serpents in paradise in the form of spies, intrigue, rebellion and gruesome punishment. Whilst sticking as closely as possible to historical fact, the author presents us with an interesting ficticious heroine. She has to face her own problems, and come to terms with herself. There is excellent character development. I look forward to future novels by Sarah Gristwood.

  • Kiran
    2019-06-09 17:34

    This book was close to torture. I forced myself to finish reading it; took me ages despite it being quite a short novel. The language / writing style I just found quite stiff and really hard to engage with. It was a slog. The main reason I persevered was that I actually did like the characters and the premise of the novel - it's unusual I think for Robert Cecil (as opposed to the old Lord Burghley) to ever be a central character in a book about Elizabethan England. There probably are some people who will still like this book; but it's not for me and I won't be trying any more books by this author.

  • Charmaine Saliba
    2019-06-14 11:31

    I have to confess that I am not familiar with Elizabeth I era and I was looking forward to read this novel, but I am disappointed by it. I am sorry to say this because one of my favourite genre is Historical Fiction but this one was really slow and I struggle to keep my interest. It is written in three points of views, Cecil, The Countess of Nottingham and Jeanne (a fictional character). It is about the last years of Queen Elizabeth I and the fall of The Earl of Essex. The premises were good, a little girl had to fled after her parents were murder and disguised as a boy. As years goes by Jeanne continued to live as a boy. Jeanne started to work for Cecil and then met the Earl of Essex and had a key part, but still I felt there were lack of warm, while I was reading I felt it was like a diary of both Cecil and The Countess. I am sorry but for me is 2.5 stars.

  • Jane
    2019-06-09 12:50

    That lovely cover caught me first, and when I read an opening that was just as beautiful I was completely captivated.“Sometimes I think I can feel the garden, like a prickle of awareness on my skin, as if sight – and smell, and sound – were not enough and I want to wrap myself in it, like you wrap yourself in fur on a winter’s day. I suppose those times should come most often in the mayday, the hay day. when the roses and the fleur du luce and the honeysuckle are in flower. When, in the knot gardens of my childhood, gillyflowers jostled strawberries, with the fruit already beginning to show.”I found myself drawn into a story set in the latter days of Elizabeth.And into the story of Jeanne.She had been orphaned when she was just five years old and left in the care of Jacob, a gardener and a family friend. He had no idea how to bring up a girl, but he had nowhere to turn. And so he dressed her as a boy, treated her as his apprentice, and taught her everything he knew …When Jacob died Jeanne was alone in the world. She kept her disguise - she knew that she would be safer that way – and found a position in the household of Robert Cecil.But Cecil realised that Jeanne was a woman, and that he could use that to his advantage. He made her his emissary to the Earl of Essex, the Queen’s former favourite who had fallen from grace. He realised that Jeanne was a woman and he set about charming her.Jeanne struggled with divided loyalties. And then she realised that she was in terrible danger …There are three storytellers, three distinctive voices:Katherine, Countess of Nottingham.“I do not actually watch as the Queen raises her arm and unclenches her fingers, letting the glove fall solidly to the sand, heavy with its embroidery. I make a mental note to see that, this time, they clean it carefully. How many accession days is it now? It can;t be far off forty, though in the beginning we didn’t celebrate them this way. Once, long ago, we gave her such a wisp of a thing to throw that the wind all but whipped it away, but after this many years we’ve learned to do these things properly.”Robert Cecil:“I have no appetite for this any more. There may once have been a moment when some tiny, surreptitious part of me would have expected to enjoy seeing Elizabeth humiliated – a moment when she was asking the whole court whatever she would do without her little pygmy. But I’ve supped too full of humiliation over the years to want to taste the dish again, even vicariously …”And Jeanne herself:“‘She always forgives me.’ He jumped up and began striding around the room. An inkwell on the desk clashed to the floor: the very force of his convictions must make him clumsy. The guard stuck his head around the door in alarm, ignoring the spreading stain on the floorboards …”It’s a very clever selection, avoiding the obvious choices, and allowing all of the characters, the story, the history to shine.The characterisation is flawless, and the author so clearly knows and understands the history.And she writes beautifully, mixing engaging storytelling with vivid descriptive passages.The story moves slowly at first, but the pace builds until finally everything comes together in a dramatic conclusion.I was almost completely captivated, but I did wonder how Jeanne managed to keep her disguise, how she coped with all of the practicalities, why nobody ever said anything …So not quite perfect, but still a lovely, undemanding historical novel.It was lovely to step back into Tudor England, to look around beautiful gardens, to watch the seasons change, and to see the human side of history so very clearly.

  • Mira
    2019-06-13 14:51

    This was a first for me! After decades of avoiding bodice rippers I finally succumbed to this after a friend recommended it. Totally not my style (no spaceships / aliens / unicorns or magic for start) and also it was a story told around historical events which normally I would avoid like the plague. (No pun intended - this is not about the black plague.)This is the story of a young French orphaned disguised as a boy living in London who unwittingly stumbles into the middle of a circle of secrets and plotting revolving around the Earl of Essex and the Queen.It shames me to admit that I had no knowledge of the The Earl of Essex Rebellion - I'm not a fan of history (as I am sure you can tell) but I loved learning about the human intrigue and the whole story. It just goes to show. Fiction can make anything fun.The love triangle / story moves a little bit slowly for me and I found it a bit frustrating but it kept me gripped the whole way through. Very pleased that I stumbled across this.

  • Carolynn
    2019-05-31 11:27

    I'm partial to a bit of historical fiction and my tastes are quite catholic running as they do from Hilary Mantel to Emily Purdy via Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy and Philippa Gregory. Sarah Gristwood, like Alison Weir, is a historian turned novelist and I've enjoyed her non-ficton ['Arbella' and 'Elizabeth and Leicester'].I was enjoying this tale of a cross-dressing female Huguenot gardener unwittingly involved in Tudor espionage until I came to pg 130 and the following sentence:'As her ladies followed hastily I heard an exasperated murmur - 'Philadelphia...' - spoken exasperatedly.'I know we don't have copy editors any more but it's just sloppy.I persevered and really enjoyed this book: it's an intriguing slant on the downfall of the Earl of Essex, and Sarah Gristwood's knowledge of the characters and period does not intrude. She also convincingly maintains her first person multi voice narrative structure throughout and there is no exposition of plot through dialogue ;->I'm looking forward to her next foray into fiction.

  • Hiep Huynh
    2019-06-20 12:25

    This is not a very good review because I didn't get very far into the book. Although that does say a lot. I mean, I made myself finish the first Twilight novel even though I wanted to punch myself in the face. This book was the opposite. Instead of being frustrating and silly, it was mind numbingly boring.The pretty cover, the 'historical fiction' label and the blurb made it sound very enticing. Instead, it was slow, stiff and just didn't pull me in.To sum up my rating, I did not like it.

  • Diane Warrington
    2019-06-14 12:27

    This would have been more interesting if the focus had stayed on Jeanne as she lives her life in disguise as a boy. From the persecution in the Low Countries to London it would have been good to follow her journey. All the other characters seem to suss she is not a boy anyhow. And as for the supposed liaison with Essex, that was too far fetched. Jeanne just becomes a pretend third person voice to tell the story of Robert Cecil, Essex and Elizabeth 1. The ending was weird she changes into a dress and goes out. How is she going to deal with being a woman? Unsatisfying.

  • Stacey
    2019-06-22 14:34

    I generally love historical novels, especially about this particular time period. I even really liked the concept that Gristwood had chosen to explore.Unfortunately I found this book incredibly difficult to get through. The writing style didn't flow well for me, and I found most of the characters rather flat. In the end, I forced myself through this on the sheer desire to want to be able to pick up a new book.

  • Arna
    2019-06-01 16:39

    A disappointing way to start the year's reading. An interesting premise to re-tell a story that has been told a thousand times, but it just never got underway. Disjointed, often implausible. It was impossible for me to understand Jeanne's motivations, and I really couldn't be bothered even tring,

  • Emily-Jane Orford
    2019-06-25 12:33


  • Ariana
    2019-05-28 15:22

    This wasn't what I expected at all, and that would've been okay had I received something different to enjoy. Instead, I was confused and bored; I only read to the end because I didn't want to leave it unfinished.I didn't realize until a little bit in that there were multiple characters (and it wasn't solid in my mind until that one scene that was repeated in the POV after it) even though there were headings that stated who the POV was from. The characters didn't have their own voices, either – at least nothing that made them stand out individually or amongst the other characters). I didn't care for any of the characters, and most of all I didn't find much of a point in having the different points of view as part of the story.The only time it got somewhat interesting was right near the end (view spoiler)[with the hope that the ring provided (hide spoiler)], otherwise it was a struggle to get through. All the build up was pointless because not only did I not get anything out of it, but the characters didn't – at least nothing that I was rooting for. Jeanne crossdressing didn't seem to serve much of a purpose, and the beginning of the book was gruesome without thought – as though shocking the reader would somehow interest them. A lot of the time I didn't even understand what was going on, nor did I care, and that really put me off involving myself more if there wasn't anything redeeming to look forward to.Everyone and everything was unmemorable, and that ruined a potentially good setting to write in. There was one scene where the writing didn't fit, one of Katherine's when she speaks of a garden or something of the like, and I wish that the rest of the book were written like that because it was lovely. Perhaps then the writing would've made up for it, but even there it would only be pretty words masking a lacking cast and boring plot.It could've been so much better than it was; it had potential, but it focused on things I couldn't care about and wasn't made to. Focusing on Jeanne's story probably would've been enough – even making it a romance with Martin Slaughter would've saved it for me – but instead I got a book that I don't care to read again, recommend, or even own.

  • Tanya Negrey
    2019-06-04 12:47

    Ugh. I got about 3/4 of the way through then finally took it back to the library. Definitely not worth the late fees of $2.60. Disjointed, superficial, no strong story line. Painful. Very disappointing, as the premise of the book-a young woman (Jeanne) posing as a male in late 15-th/early-16th century England-is a good one. I'd love to see this idea done with the storyline flushed out first, and with qualities to the characters that make the reader care about them. For instance, nothing is written about what Jeanne's really feeling and experiencing, going through life with her particular disguise that could have serious ramifications for her, if discovered. What are her experiences as she blossoms into a young woman, but poses as a boy? What does she want for her future? How do these wants/needs reconcile (or not) with her current reality? She's also an orphan. How is that? More about her fear/anxiety would've been appropriate.Including the points of view of both her employer, Sir Robert Cecil, and the Queen's lady-in-waiting, Katherine of Nottingham, also did nothing for me. I think the book should've just stuck with Jeanne's story. It's better to do one thing well, then a few things half-assed. This is a good example of this mantra.Overall, the book seems to skim over the surface, without going deeper. This is, essentially, why it fails.

  • Karen Brooks
    2019-05-26 16:34

    A beautifully written tale of cross-dressing, machinations, plots and self-discovery set during the last years of Queen Elizabeth the first's reign. Told from three different points of view (the young woman, Jeanne, a religious refugee in England, one of Elizabeth's ladies-in-waiting and Secretary of State, Robert Cecil), it covers the decline in relations between Elizabeth and the ebullient and erratic Earl of Essex. Initially, the story grabbed me and I thoroughly enjoyed the gardening metaphors and descriptions, the accuracy and beauty of the portrayal of the times (even the ugliness, which is stepped in rich and poetic language), but the fact the three different voices blurred and the slowness of the narrative hindered my enjoyment. Still, an original tale of well-known events featuring a good fictional heroine and convincing fictionalised versions of what occurred from well-known figures.

  • Jo Barton
    2019-06-18 15:47

    It's refreshing to have a book about Elizabethan England that doesn't focus entirely upon Elizabeth the Queen.This book follows the fortunes of Jeanne Musset, orphaned, and forced to flee the Low Countries as a small child, Jeanne lives her early life in London, disguised as a boy. As an adult, her exceptional talent for drawing botanical specimens will take her into the circle of the charismatic Earl of Essex, whose own meteoritic rise to glory is about to come to an end.Beautifully written, this book evokes all the sights and sensations of the last few years of Elizabeth's reign - when to be young, talented and female was sometimes a price to much to pay.Sarah Gristwood is the author of several historical biographies - The Girl in the Mirror is her first novel.

  • Maureen Grenier
    2019-06-12 13:40

    I think “The Girl in the Mirror” by Sarah Gristwood is a wonderful book. The story is set in the Elizabethan Era and revolves around the conflict between the ageing Queen and the ambitious Earl of Essex. This is a fictional account supported by historical fact and the author lets us know at the end of the book what parts are based on supposition. We follow the story through the adventures of a young female gardener-artist, disguised as a male, which means we are also treated to information about changing styles in gardening as well as changing styles in fashion. Reading this kind of book is my favourite way of learning and reviewing history. It’s an excellent book.

  • Margaret Jones
    2019-06-04 13:36

    What I liked most about this book was the mix of fiction and fact. The fact that in between each section she put quotes from the people mentioned throughout the story. I must say that the story itself about the relationship between Essex and Elizabeth was not one that particularly gripped me. I did like how the story was told through the eyes of a girl posing as a boy who becomes a clerk in the court of Elizabeth. I did also like the way the reader always know who was telling the story and when. The story being told from the perspective of several people. All in all our was enjoyable just not particularly for me.

  • Rachel
    2019-06-01 11:50

    I tried so hard to read this book. It started out well but quickly devolved into the tedious minutiae of life at court during the latter years of the reign of Elizabeth I. The novel presupposes a certain degree of familiarity with many of the key historical figures. People not already heavily steeped in the period may find this book confusing. The pacing was painfully slow and I made it about about a third of the way through before I gave up waiting for something to happen. Moving on to something a little less pretentious!

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-28 11:37

    Actual rating 3.5 stars. Interesting in that it focuses on one particular episode in the reign of Elizabeth I - Essex's downward spiral. Also interesting in that it is from the point of view of a commoner on the fringes, and even more so a girl masquerading as a boy. I liked how the garden/flower theme was carried through the book, with descriptions of the changing seasons and weather all done in terms of flowers.

  • Vikas Datta
    2019-06-06 17:28

    Another compelling read that brings to life the shadowy world of plots and conspiracies in the closing years of the Glorious Queen of England's reign. A narrative structure switching between multiple characters is a difficult gambit to pull of successfully but Ms Gristwood succeeds most admirably. A cast of characters would have helped though. The narrator is a inspiring creation and should not go waste after just one adventure...

  • Karen
    2019-06-02 12:38

    I particularly like historical fiction based in this period and although this was enjoyable , there are far better novels out there. I felt that the voices of the three narrators were too similar, both in language and thought. However as I love gardens I did like the how the story was entwined with plant references. So, if you get given this book and have some to relax - go ahead and enjoy it, just don't rush out to buy it especially!

  • Jo
    2019-06-06 14:39

    A young immigrant fleeing the religious wars on the Continent becomes caught up with the machinations of the house of Robert Cecil, spymaster to Elizabeth I and witnesses the fall of the Earl of Essex. This is Gristwood's first novel but her credentials as a historian show with the details of the court and events. While not great, this was still an enjoyable read.

  • Jenny
    2019-06-22 11:44

    Apart from my earlier comments i really liked this book. It helped because i read the notes at the end first giving the background.Sarah writes beautifully and her first novel is a credit.I hope another is on the way.I am preparing to read Blood Sisters now.

  • Ginny
    2019-06-02 17:48

    3.3Sarah Gristwood is no Philippa Gregory (yet) but this is a good first novel. I am admittedly fascinated by the Tudors, British history and a self-professed Anglophile so I am a wee bit biased but the world she creates is believable and you will become wrapped up in the intrigue.

  • Cindy
    2019-06-19 14:34

    What a time waster! A young girl loses her mother so must live as a boy to survive. All takes place while Queen Elizabeth I is reigning. All politics. Hung in thinking the story would be interesting when she actually starts living as a girl/women. Last for 4 pages.

  • Serena
    2019-05-27 16:32

    An intriguing story, told by multiple viewpoints, of the end of the Elizabethian empire. Gristwood knows her material, and her essay at the book, "Elizabeth and Essex" is fantastic, as well as the historical notes.

  • Kim Henry
    2019-06-13 19:26

    DNF. This book just isn't doing it for me. It's boring. I skimmed ahead to see if it gets any better but it doesn't seem to. I wanted to give it a chance before just giving up and I think I really did. Just wasn't my cup of tea.

  • Emily
    2019-06-06 12:25

    It was a really interesting book. After reading a lot about the same time in history it starts to get a tad boring. However, this shows a different side to the time when Elizabeth I was on the throne. You see the story through the eyes of a girl who is dressed as a boy. I recommend it!