Pacy, punchy new account ... Paranque’s exhaustive primary source research and translation from French state papers enable her to reconstruct the history of this relationship in the form of dialogue ... She acknowledges that she has recast her material to render it more accessible, and the technique occasionally jars ... On the whole the effect is fresh and vivid ... Both women emerge as appealingly human ... Paranque also draws out queenly vulnerabilities ... Paranque is wise, however, in refusing to speculate too closely on the Virgin Queen’s love life ... The great pleasure of this book is its immediacy: the reader feels present at the conferences and negotiating tables, and Estelle Paranque thrillingly achieves her intention of freeing her 'female princes' from the clichés that too often surround them, revealing them as the extraordinary rulers they were in (almost) their own words.
A story written with verve and passion ... Entertaining accounts of the marriage proposals ... Mary flits in and out of the pages of Paranque’s book like a troublesome moth ... Paranque writes powerfully of the death of Catherine but skims over the assassination of her son, Henry III ... Paranque’s portrayal of Gloriana owes a great deal to the astonishing longevity of Elizabethan propaganda ... Blood, Fire and Gold is a marvellous story ... For many readers its interest will lie in its unfamiliarity, and it certainly does fill a gap in a neglected area of 16th-century history.
Political power and intrigue permeate this immersive dual biography ... The book’s most fascinating sections reveal how the two queens’ efforts toto forge a strong French-English alliance and calm religious conflict ... Paranque’s vivid character sketches and lucid explanations of the political and religious stakes involved result in a certifiable historical page-turner.
Paranque often converts the material into fictionalized scenes with invented dialogue and insight into the characters’ thoughts. Although not always successfully, the tactic seems to preserve the spirit of the interactions. Solid diplomatic history and account of the lives of two female rulers who held their own in Renaissance Europe.