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
Elizabeth vs Mary
The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
Member Name: katyj10
The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
Advantages: Good historical novel
Disadvantages: Bit dull in places
This is a review of 'The Other Queen" by Philippa Gregory. Having really enjoyed reading her other novels, such as the Boleyn Inheritance, the Queen's Fool and The Other Boleyn Girl I was looking forward to reading this.
I like to split up the order I read Gregory's books so that I don't get in a historical novel reading rut so had been saving this for a while. It was a brand spanking new hardback with a ribbon built in for page marking (which incidentally drives my cat crazy!) so it felt really special when I began reading it.
I have to say, whilst still a good and gripping read, this book was not as good as the other ones I've read by Gregory. It may have just been down to the characters but I prefer a bit more fire 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 Queen Elizabeth who believes Mary is challenging her for her crown as queen of England. As usual the main theme is speculation about Elizabeth and whether she is still able to provide an heir (son) for the throne after her reign. The clue is in her nickname, the virgin queen... also the fact that she doesn't marry anyone nor does she seem to want to.
The story is interwoven by plots supposedly led by Mary in cahoots with English and Scots lords. We are led to believe that Mary is an absolute stunner whom men will do anything for her favour.
Her hosts, whilst not painted as jailors, are Bess and her husband George Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury. The story is narrated by Bess, George and Mary in turn, which is the style Philippa Gregory writes in. It's easy to get used to; keeps the story moving and you get things from different perspectives.
The whole plot is a will she won't she (Mary) get back on the Throne in Scotland or will Elizabeth have her properly inprisoned in the tower. In the meantime her hosts Bess and George struggle to keep her under control in their various grand houses and castles whilst striving to prove their loyalty to Queen Elizabeth.
Whilst I enjoyed reading it, I also thought it went on a bit too much in parts. George clearly falls for Mary's charms but never acts on his feelings as he is loyal to his wife Bess but Bess does see what George is like around the Scots queen and feels let down by him and the drain that hosting the Queen takes on her personally striven and collected fortune.
Maybe the reason I didn't enjoy it so much is because it was set away from the Royal Court where all the fun and flirting takes place in the other novels. Both the characters label themselves as 'past it' and just don't seem to do much other than sewing and going on horse rides.
There are the usual undertones of religious battle that go on in all of Gregory's novels, which are true of the times I believe. Gregory clearly has a grasp on the actual facts of the times and uses her research and talent to write realistic and believable novels.
Verdict / final word
Next in the pile is 'The Virgin's Lover' by Philippa Gregory so I haven't lost my enthusiasm for reading her books just yet! This book was good enough for me but didn't set me on fire like the others did.
Summary: Believable, interesting and well written