Once again, Philippa Gregory lazily amalgamates Francis Walsingham into William Cecil, and the historical inaccuracies are ever a problem in Philippa Gregory s works This is the third book in which Gregory promotes the idea that Elizabeth was in fact the daughter of Mark Smeaton, the other books being The Queen s Fool and The Virgin s Lover I overlooked this in the previous two books, but by this stage the level of her anti Elizabeth bias is plain for all to see As a historian, this is a glaring example of how Gregory picks out baseless slander to insert into her books over the facts There are plenty of anachronisms too Bess refers to the exploits of Sir Francis Drake in a chapter dated 1569, but Drake would not launch his first major enterprise to the Spanish Main in order to plunder Spanish treasure ships until 1572, and he wasn t even knighted until 1581 in 1569 he was no than an officer in the private fleet of his distant cousin John Hawkins and no one in Elizabeth s court would have heard of him Bess also refers to a fine Turkey carpet which keeps popping up in the novel Turkey, as a nation state, would not come into being for several centuries in 1569 it was known to Elizabethan England as the Ottoman Empire Mary s character talks about the Spanish raising an Armada for her in yet another chapter dated 1569, when in fact construction work did not commence on a planned Armada until 1586 Astonishing Gregory even picks out details such as Mary making an embroidery of her new motto In my end is my beginning whilst with Bess at Tutbury Castle, when in fact Mary sewed this motto when she was newly arrived in England and at Carlisle.
A word on the resolution of the two plots as portrayed in the novel The first plot, known as the Northern Rebellion, is resolved in the book by a simple loss of confidence from the Northern forces and a melting away of the threat In fact, though Elizabeth struggled to raise an army at first, she was able to muster an initial force of 7000 men, and a supporting army of over 12,000, against the estimated 4600 of the rebels The second plot, the Ridolfi plot, was actually uncovered by John Hawkins aforementioned relative of Francis Drake who gained the confidence of the Spanish ambassador to England and informed the government Elizabeth was also sent a second notification about the plot from the Grand Duke of Tuscany, so far from being without friends in Europe as the novel proclaims she was, this was not the case at all There was no Spanish help coming for Mary they rejected the idea of sending support because of Mary s close ties to France Philippa Gregory must have researched even these basic facts when writing the novel, so why does she falsify events Why not go with actual events The only reason for doing this that I can see is to underplay Elizabeth s support and popularity, overplay the support and popularity of Mary, and portray Elizabeth s situation as far precarious than it was It s repeatedly stated that the whole of the North is in support of Mary, but this was not the case at all The Papal Bull mentioned in the novel, encouraging Elizabeth s Catholic subjects to rise up against her and assassinate her, was widely ignored by English Catholics, who enjoyed the prosperity brought by her moderate middle way policies.
This ties in with the repeated nonsense notions in the novel that Elizabethan England was crawling with spies, that torture was used as a matter of course, and that justice and law meant nothing to evil Cecil and Elizabeth s other unscrupulous, hard hearted advisors Norfolk s trial is portrayed as little than a show trial The Protestants, embodied in Bess, are portrayed as nothing than greedy money grabbers concerned only with expensive houses and possessions All of this seems simply a ploy to further vilify and discredit the historical figures that Philippa Gregory dislikes, whilst at the same time promoting those she has taken a liking to I ll give you an example of this Towards the end of the novel, Mary receives a crude drawing of herself as a mermaid and a comment on her scandalous love life Mary and Bess then discuss how the drawing and other scandals going around about Mary were probably created and spread by Cecil s agents I mention this in particular because I ve seen exactly the artefact on which this little incident is based It comes from Edinburgh in Scotland not from England , and dates to the spring of 1567 not December 1571 , at the height of Mary s affair with Bothwell The placard was one of many such plastered throughout Edinburgh at the time, and reflected a widespread unpopularity of Mary amongst her own people The fact that Philippa Gregory uses this artefact and twists it in such a way clearly demonstrates her bias against Elizabeth and Cecil and the way she changes the facts in her novels for seemingly no other reason than her own biases.
Gregory s selection of time period feels odd, given that she could have chosen from many other far interesting periods in Mary s life, such as the murder of Rizzio and Darnley followed by the rebellion of Mary s lords against her and Bothwell The characterisations of the three narrators were uninteresting George was dull and I rushed to get past his chapters, and I found it incredulous that he was so blinded by his love for Mary incidentally I would really like to see the supposed wealth of evidence that Philippa Gregory claims in her author s note strongly suggests that George was in love with Mary Bess was reduced to a constant cataloguing of her income and outcome, always at her account books and grumbling about Mary reducing them to paupers I found it hard to like Mary when not only is she so false, but almost every single character falls under her charms and Gregory drastically overplays her popularity and prospects An even worse sin she makes Mary boring Most of her thoughts and conversation are rehashed and vapid fare.
The book also severely lacks action I thought something might happen when the three protagonists were forced to flee from the Northern Rebellion, and in fact the way they went on about how convinced they were that the rebels would catch them, I was anticipating an action scene or two but then nothing I don t think Philippa Gregory can write action She dodged out of it in The Constant Princess , she dodges out of it here, and come to think of it the only action sequence I can recall in any of her novels is the fall of Calais in The Queen s Fool Frankly, the book drags interminably and feels dull throughout I didn t think much of George foreseeing Mary s death in an afterthought at the end Gregory writes with far too much hindsight Overall, the novel was simply monotone, failing to make an impact It lacked passion, excitement or intrigue, and some of Gregory s readers have suggested that Gregory was by this time bored with the Tudors.
This book took me quite some time to get through I have read Philippa Gregory s other books, and though they are not always factually correct, and most often read like gossip mags, I have come to enjoy them and expect that of her books This was so long and drawn out, and not at all enjoyable It is written from the viewpoint of Mary Queen of Scots and her two jailers, but you are never engaged with any of the three main characters Gregory simply twists and repeats the same sentiments for each chapter I had to force myself to finish it No new revelations, or interesting facts are ever revealed It was like walking through mud.
This review is for the audiobook version of The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory, published by Recorded books, and narrated by Stina Nielsen, Jenny Sterlin and Ron KeithAudio 5 stars The narration for this novel is a full fledged five stars The story is told from three viewpointsBess, Mary and Georgeand each character gets its own distinctive and independent voice I give bonus points when audio books do this, as they can be hard to follow with only one narratornot to mention they can get quite monotonous , so to have three on this one made the experience enjoyable Each narrator was concise, deliberate and animated and highly skilled Hands down, a great audio experience Story 3.
5 stars As always, Gregory does her research This well informed novel tells the story of the one and only Mary Queen of ScotsMary, Queen of Scots, is strikingly beautiful, and also holds the unique position of being heir to the thrones of Scotland, France and England This, obviously, does not sit well with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, who exiles Mary to northern England, to live with newlywed couple and loyal English subjects , Bess Hardwicke and George Shrewsbury While living with the couple, Mary tries in vain to return to Scotland and regain her throne, using her charm to persuade the Earl of Shrewsbury to help her But with the threat of a treason charge on his head, will George help the young queen, or deny his feelings and avoid a beheading Initially, I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters in this novel Mary was brave and confident, determined to overcome what others thought of her in pursuit of what she rightfully deserved Bess was also very strong and independent, focused on providing for her family and keeping her fortune George was a devoted husband and loyal subject to Queen Elizabeth until Mary enters the picture By the end of the novel I was not as enad with the characters Mary had become entitled and whiny, George was a downright sap and nincompoop, and Bessalthough quite possibly the only likable character by the endwas self obsessed and shallow.
Now, that being said, I don t slight Gregory for this A fiction novel based on real characters, it is to be expected that a lot of their unlikable traits belonged to the actual people themselves, not on Gregory s development of them As usual, Gregory does stellar research, and her knowledge of the period is above par I enjoyed Mary s imprisonmentas much as one can, anyway , and her plotting to be returned to her throne I found, however, that parts of this novel dragged on too long There were many royal figures in this novel, and their roles in the plotting were often just fillers I didn t feel they played an important enough role to get the attention Gregory gave them The three main players of this novel, George, Mary and Bess, drew me in and kept me engaged, but the othermultitudinousroyals and noblemanbeyond Elizabeth herself of coursedid not interest me The thing with Gregory s novels is that the endings do not surprise you I went into this novel with the knowledge of how the fated Scots Queen would fare, but I still enjoyed reading her story For Bess and George, Gregory gave them a just and satisfying ending, which drew The Other Queen to a comforting close Overall, the narration of this novel is a five star delight, and the novel had me intriguedfor the most part , although a shorter novel with fewer characters and focus on the main plot would have made this a perfect read.
The ill fated Mary Queen of Scots.
The Tudor blood ran in her veins yet she was ousted from Scotland and denied the English crown in the event of Elizabeth s death Her right to the crown is often debated amongst historians Her guardian George Talbot 6th Earl of Shrewsbury.
A man torn between serving his own queen Elizabeth 1 and Mary who is thrust into his household He was in an unenviable situation to serve England or to honor what is right and just His wife Bess Talbot Countess of Shrewsbury.
A rare commodity in Elizabethan times a businesswoman but also a woman who finds than her estates in jeopardy Strangely, I had little sympathy for Bess I felt she was concerned with losing her wealth and her houses than she was about her marriageFotheringay by Sandy DennyHow often she has gazed from castle windows o er,And watched the daylight passing within her captive wall,With no one to heed her call.
The evening hour is fading within the dwindling sun,And in a lonely moment those embers will be goneAnd the last of all the young birds flown.
Her days of precious freedom, forfeited long before,To live such fruitless years behind a guarded door, One of those weird moments While reading this novel yesterday, a really old song came on the radio see above Of course, Fotheringay is the castle where Mary Queen of Scots was finally imprisoned Hearing that song while reading of Mary felt really strange.
Recommended for lovers of good books and historical fiction novels 4