Newest Review: ... in these novels than this one provided. A bit about the story The other Queen is Mary Queen of Scots who is held semi captive by Quee... more
Not the best story of Mary Queen of Scots
The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
Member Name: jillycat
The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
Advantages: Good historical detail
Disadvantages: Felt slow and cumbersome to read ending rushed
Having read and enjoyed a lot of Philippa Gregory's novels about Tudor Britain such as the Queens Fool. I took this book out of the library with high hopes of enjoying another enthralling read about Tudor Britain and reading about Mary Queen of Scots as I haven't read many novels about this Queen.
About the author
Philippa Gregory is an internationally renowned author of Historical fiction. She holds a PhD from Edinburgh University. She lives in Yorkshire on a small farm several of her novels have been adapted fro television and film the most famous probably of these is The Other Boleyn Girl. A full author's biography can be found at her website which is www.philippagregory.com
About the book
This novel centres on the period from 1568 when Mary Queen of Scots finds herself imprisoned as the "guest" of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick. Bess and George are newly weds in this book and start the novel with love and respect for one another. Mary is a devout Catholic, and is a living threat to the rule of her cousin Elisabeth, whose Protestant reign is uncertain. The book is told through the three voices of George, Mary and Bess giving you their different perspectives on the events that unfold from the start of Bess and George's period as Mary's custodians up to Mary's death in 1587.
I found this book very difficult to get into due to the three different narratives. It felt initially very cumbersome to go from one voice and thoughts to another especially as some of the chapters and sections were as short as 2 pages and covered a very small amount of information. I also found myself getting irritated by the book on several occasions due to it appearing to be very repetitive. I found this also slowed the pace of the novel down considerably as each event was told from their individual viewpoint. I think that this narrowed the scope of the book because there are so many events in history at this point by only looking at three people's perspective some events seemed to be missed or skirted over such as the Duke of Norfolk's role in events.
I found the characters as written by Gregory didn't lend themselves to being liked me as the reader.
Of all the characters the one that I found myself caring about was Bess and I found that I left this novel wanting to know more about her. That said I still found the fact that a lot of her thoughts and views were colored by her constant winging about money to be tiresome. As this lady had married four husbands and got richer each time it was understandable for her to worry about her fortune but I felt this was done at the expense of her feelings and emotions about how Mary was bewitching her husband.
George as a character is written as essentially weak he appears to struggle only briefly with his honor before becoming Mary's man rather than a supporter of Elizabeth and a wife to Bess. However Gregory writes repeatedly and to the point of ad nausea about his struggle with his feelings I just felt like saying for god sake pull you together man!
In regards to Mary I got bored of Gregory's endless repeating of "I am chosen by God to rule! I am an anointed Queen! I can never be killed because I am chosen by God to be an anointed queen!" this just served to want me to hasten her beheading really. The vanity that is ascribed to Mary is also astonishing she loves the fact that she can seduce a man around to her way of thinking. Now I am sure that Mary was a great beauty but the focus on her seduction powers also left me wondering what else she could offer as Queen. Portrayed as constantly demanding, whiney, devious and with an inability to keep her word she was very annoying. As was the fact that she seemed to have no concern for her own well-being or that of her "hosts". All of which just made it impossible to care in anyway for her fate. That said I was left however wanting to know more about her past and the murder of one husband and more about the relationship between her and Bothwell so I think I will look for a novel about that.
Elizabeth is mentioned and referred to she is portrayed as a gullible, naive, wishy-washy, spineless queen and not credible at all which I found difficult to give credence to and it just made me like Mary's less as it just felt like sour grapes at her imprisonment.
The events towards the end of the book get compressed, presumably to bring about a neater conclusion. Mary's execution is described in a dream sequence by George 15 years previously this was just laughable really and the stuff of B movies not good historical fiction in my opinion. The only view point we get at the end is a brief couple of pages of Bess reflecting on how hard it must be for George that day. We don't really learn how Mary came to be beheaded other than a few sentences. This just felt sloppy writing really. We had a novel describe in minutiae detail some parts of events but the actual crux of how she came to be beheaded only warranted a sentence or two this I just found incredulous as reader and not what I expected from this novel.
On a more positive note Gregory's talent for well researched and historical accurate information and detail is evident throughout the book. The references to the uprising in the North and Elizabeth visit to her cousin Norfolk in the Tower stand out to me as a good elaboration of historical fact with a waft of the fiction magic pen. However this unfortunately for me are not sufficient to recommend this book or read it again I was just glad I got it from the library rather than wasted money on it.
I novel that is slow and cumbersome it did little to enamor me to the characters or care about the fate of Mary Queen of Scotts. I wouldn't really recommend this novel and I am only giving it 2 stars for the historical detail and the bits I enjoyed about Bess of Hardwick.
Paperback: 375 pages
Publisher: Harper (2 April 2009)
Available on Amazon for £4.56
Summary: Mary Queen of Scots does little to win me round to her cause in this slow moving novel