Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory

A young woman caught in the rivalry between Queen Mary and her half sister, Elizabeth, must find her true destiny amid treason, poisonous rivalries, loss of faith, and unrequited love.

It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of "Sight," the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward's protector, who brings her to court as a "holy fool" for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires.

Teeming with vibrant period detail and peopled by characters seamlessly woven into the sweeping tapestry of history, The Queen's Fool is another rich and emotionally resonant gem from this wonderful storyteller. (from GoodReads)

I finally get to review a book I read this month! I actually just finished The Queen's Fool a few hours ago so I am actually qualified to give my opinion, unlike the past couple novels I've read. Anyway, I always like Philippa Gregory's books and that remains the same for this one. It's not my favorite or anything but still a good read.

I absolutely love reading about Tudor England and that's usually what Gregory writes about. This book is slightly different because it's not the POV of a royal but rather a young Jewish girl who is hiding in England and pretending to be Christian. She becomes a fool in the Tudor court, first for Edward and then Mary so she's intimately involved with the royal intrigue. She even spends time with Princess Elizabeth before she takes the throne so she's very influential somehow.

I thought that Hannah's circumstances were very interesting, especially having escaped the Inquisition in Spain and then having to deal with Bloody Mary's version of the Inquisition in England. I learned a lot about la inquisicion in my Spanish class last semester so it was neat to see it portrayed here. It was funny because Hannah adores Mary and says how kind and generous she is and then I'm waiting to see what happens because we all know she becomes "bloody" Mary. I thought that Mary was portrayed in a very positive light, maybe moreso then she deserved. But it's always interesting to get the other perspective too.

I did have a few problems with The Queen's Fool. First it was too long and I started to get bored with the story. Then I found some issues with Hannah's character. Essentially she's psychic and everyone knows it including Mary. To me, that seems like heresy and would be something you would be executed or imprisoned for but even Bloody Mary doesn't seem to care. The other thing is that Hannah plays every side imaginable in the story; she's friends with both Mary and Elizabeth who are enemies. Both of them know this but don't care?? That was odd to me.

Overall I'll probably read anything about the Tudors but Philippa Gregory writes really good novels!  I would recommend her other books over this one but The Queen's Fool is still good.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: library.

2003/Touchstone/504 pages.

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