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The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
Member Name: thehonesttruth
The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
Advantages: An oppurtunity to learn more about the queen or scots
Disadvantages: It just isn't interesting
I'm a big fan of historical fiction, and especially of Phillipa Gregory, having found several of her books extremely enjoyable. So, I had absolutely no doubt about buying myself a copy of this book, especially as it centred on Mary Queen of Scots, someone I hadn't read too much about .
The book covers the period from 1568, when Mary fled Scotland to England hoping for her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, to offer her protection. Instead she found herself practically imprisoned, with George Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife, Bess of Hardwick, in charge of keeping her secured and out of trouble. Elizabeth is worried that her young attractive cousin, who already has a male heir, may be a rallying point for angry Catholics hoping to get their religion restored, and is eager to avoid any kind of catholic uprising at all costs . Sadly Mary, even while imprisoned, can not resist plotting, and only brings danger with her .
I found this book much less enjoyable than many of Gregory other works, I think mainly due to the split narrative. Changing from character to character every few paragraphs was very confusing, and I often had to check back to see who had said what. A book should be gripping and readable, with facts presented in an interesting way that seals them in your mind, but I felt many situations were handled too briefly, leading to me not feeling I was learning an awful lot at all . This split viewpoint also led to the same scene being repeated just from a different viewpoint a couple of times.
The book just doesn't seem to gain momentum . While big events are happening, they're always happening someone else, and we learn about them either after the fact, or through someone's correspondence. I'm not sure how best to describe it - it's a bit like reading a book about someone reading a book , none of the action is actually occurring close enough to the characters for me to actually care.
The other problem with the split narrative was that, as well as leaving events dealt with in too little detail and too far removed from the characters, the chopping and changing of viewpoints every couple of pages really didn't allow me to engage with and care about the characters. I found myself honestly not giving a stuff if Mary lived or died . Don't get me wrong, I know my history and Iknew she'd lose her head, but part of Gregory's usual skilful mastery is that she somehow manages to make you get emotionally involved in the book, and makes the known ending an exciting path to get to .
Sadly, this book just didn't do it for me . I didn't care about the people involved, I didn't care about the events that were always happening somewhere else, and I just found myself thinking 'Just behead her already so I can stop reading this dross.'
I was really disappointed in this book,as many of Gregory's other works have been simply wonderful. I actually feel really bad for hating a book by one of my favourite authors, as though I'm being somehow disloyal . So I'd end this review by saying that although I am only awarding this particular book 2 stars (one of those purely because I can't find any historical inaccuracies) and do not recommend it, I do recommend reading some of her other books .