Monday, September 27, 2010

Jen's Book Review: The Other Queen by Phillippa Gregory

 The Other Queen: A Novel
Queen Elizabeth feels her reign is threatened by her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth is a bastard child of Henry VIII, but Mary is of royal blood and really should wear the crown for England. Mary is accused of plotting to have her husband murdered and is banished from Scotland. Elizabeth vows to keep her safe and hidden until the court determines if she is innocent and should be returned to the throne. As long as Mary is in captivity, Elizabeth's reign over England is safe. Elizabeth has the Earl of Shrewsbury, George Talbot, and his new wife Bess house Mary in their country home. George has no idea that Elizabeth and her close advisor William Cecil plan to eliminate Mary. Cecil has many spies that he uses to monitor Mary's captivity, one of which is Bess. Poor George is clueless. George is surprised to find himself favoring Mary, causing him to question his political loyalties, and making Bess very unhappy. Mary will not go down without a fight and has many supporters who vow to free her. Who will succeed in the end, Elizabeth or Mary? Only history will tell.

This book is one big history lesson, which always appeals to the history minor in me. While I did enjoy the book, it was nowhere near as good as Gregory's other queen books (The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance) or her fictional Wideacre series. The book has three narrators, George, Bess, and Mary. Each chapter is from one of their points of view. This really bothered me in the beginning, but as I settled into the book, I found it easier to transition from chapter to chapter. Gregory does a great job of making you feel sorry for Mary, and you can understand George's confusion over who to follow. As always, Gregory has great historical accuracy. There is no doubt she does tons of research for her books. I'm actually curious to learn more about Bess of Hardwick after reading this book. Apparently she had a reputation.

I just discovered Gregory has a new series following the history of the famous feuds in England known as the War of the Roses. The first in the series was released in 2009 and is called The White Queen. It follows Elizabeth of Woodville who secretly marries a boy king and rises to royalty. Apparently there has always been a mystery over her two sons who went missing in the Tower of London. The second in the series is called The Red Queen and tells the story of Margaret Beaufort and her quest to get her son Henry on the throne of England. She will stop at no ends to have her family rule over England. I will definitely have to check those out soon! Isn't history exciting?


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