Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: The Queen's Fool

Author:Phillipa Gregory
Title: The Queen's Fool
Publisher: Touchstone
Publish Date: February 3, 2004
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: 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.

Review: Phillipa Gregory is one of my go to's when it comes to historical fiction. I'm slowly working my way through the Tudor saga, albeit out of order. The Queen's Fool spans two monarchies, the reign of King Edward and the reign of Queen Mary, aka Bloody Mary.

The main players in this saga are a young Jewish girl, Hannah, who has to keep her faith hidden, Queen Mary and Robert Dudley. (You know, Dudley...the next Queen's favorite). I had a very hard time warming up to Hannah. There was something about her I just couldn't like. I'm not sure if it was the casual way she left her father and her betrothed, or her crush on Robert Dudley.

She became the King's fool when Dudley came into her father's shop and she saw an angel walking behind him. That moment sets the scene for the next several years of her life, which are spent as a Holy Fool for King  and then to the Catholic Queen Mary.

There's a lot I loved about this book and a lot that I didn't.


1. It was nice to see Queen Mary portrayed in a sympathetic fashion. I liked that there was a reasoning for her actions as her reign went on.

2. I liked getting a glimpse of the lives of some other major players in the Tudor era, like Dudley and John Dee.

3. I also liked that it was told from a different religious perspective. You had the Spanish Inquisition which Hannah and her family were fleeing to the issues of Catholicism and The Church Of England.

Things I didn't like so much:

1. The portrayal of the young Princess Elizabeth. I think Gregory doesn't like Queen Bess. She pretty much portrayed her as a scheming slut from the moment the book starts.

2. Hannah's relationship with Daniel. Does she or doesn't she want to be his wife. Their whole love just seems so off, like it had to be written so that she wouldn't change the course of history too much.

3. You never really figure out which Queen she favors. You get the impression she really loves Queen Mary, but at some times she leans toward Princess Elizabeth, and the way the characters are written, I think it would be terribly hard to serve them both.

Rating: 4 flowers


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