From the Publisher
"Mary's hell-bent assuredness combines deliciously with brisk chapt ers and rich historical detail. Indulge." People
"A mesmerizing novel that will keep readers turning pages deep into the night...as sweet and thorny as a wild English rose." BookPage
"Mary's hell-bent assuredness...combines deliciously with brisk chapters and rich historical detail. Indulge." People
Historical novels about queens and princes possess a double, seemingly contradictory lure: On one hand, they conjure up images of royal wealth and splendor that seem remote to us. On the other, they portray humans torn by passions and intrigues that we can all understand. In her latest full immersion into British history, Gregory revisits the endlessly fascinating drama of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. As retold in The Other Queen, the story of Mary's lavish imprisonment as the "guest" of the Earl of Shrewbury displays a tinge of surrealism, especially when counterpoised against the cutthroat schemes of the Elizabethan court. An exquisite royal entertainment.
Acynical observer might think the world could get along without another book about Mary Queen of Scots. The cynic would be missing a bet. Philippa Gregory's novel looks at Mary Stuart and her times from a fresh and engaging angle, while making an unusual point about history in general…One of the most admirable things about The Other Queen is the delicate way in which Gregory drops bits of historical allusion into a very personal story. We're never distracted by information, but there's enough of it to make the past both factually comprehensible and emotionally accessible. In the author's view as well as Bess Shrewsbury's, questions of religion and political allegiance always come down in the end to money. That's true, but fiction rarely focuses primarily on the economic basis of history; this novel is a refreshing exception. Above all, the book is an examination of the nature of loyalty, as well: to a spouse, to a monarch, to a family or a family name, to a religion, to political ideals and especially to one's sense of self.
The Washington Post
In her latest foray into the lives and minds of Elizabethan shakers and movers, Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl) takes on Mary Queen of Scots during her 16-year house arrest. By the secret order of her cousin, Elizabeth I, Mary is held at the estate of George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife, Bess of Hardwick; the latter three share first-person narrative duties. The book centers on Mary's never-ending clandestine efforts to drum up enough support to take her cousin's throne, but the real story is in the clash of two women and the earl who stands between them. Shrewsbury's refusal to recognize superior intelligence and force of will in his wife, who runs the estate, and in Mary, who tries to make him her instrument at every turn, makes for one delicious conflict after another. The voices are strong throughout, but Gregory's ventriloquism is at its best with Bess of Hardwick, a woman who managed to throw off the restrictions of birth, class and sex in order to achieve things that proved beyond her titled husband. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
New York Times bestselling author Gregory remains true to history in this "untold story" of Mary Queen of Scots and her time in England. Though the tale is rife with characters difficult to empathize with and even harder to like, actors Bianca Amato, Dagmara Dominczyk, and Graeme Malcolm-who together also read Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl-make the most of each character's flaws. For fans of the author and of this particular time in English history. [Also available from Recorded Books (14 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 16 hrs. ISBN 9781436121743,9781436164863
Gregory (The Boleyn Inheritance, 2006, etc.) makes a return trip to Tudor England, focusing on the period when Mary, Queen of Scots, fleeing from rebel Scottish lords, found herself imprisoned in England by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. The story is narrated from multiple perspectives: that of Queen Mary as well as her two jailors, George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his new wife, Bess of Hardwick, a much-married and canny financial administrator as well as a spy for the ruthless William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth's chief adviser. As the months, then years, pass, George's hopeless, forever unfulfilled love for the Queen of Scots wars with his desire to retain his honor and serve Queen Elizabeth, and also destroys the affectionate business relationship that united him and his wife in amiable marriage. Bess watches the substantial fortune she amassed through well-chosen husbands, good investments and careful accounting dwindle in support of Queen Mary's extravagant lifestyle. And, of course, Mary plots and plots again, to little avail. Reading the novel is a bit like witnessing a fixed tennis match: Queen Mary shuttles back and forth between various castles, her return to Scotland always imminent until each grand scheme fails. Meanwhile, the reader marks time waiting for the queen's inevitable walk to the scaffold. Gregory vividly evokes her three protagonists, but their personalities remain static to the point of tedium; however, it's fair to say that each one's inability to change is the very thing that leads to their joint tragedy. Mary believes that her beauty and royal status allow her to do whatever she likes with impunity; Bess, despite her wealth and title, can never surmount herhumble origins; and George, in the face of obvious evidence that his way of life is dying, stubbornly insists that noble blood, not ambition, must determine rank. Not without interest, but this claustrophobic novel should be more intriguing than it is.
Read an Excerpt1568, AUTUMN,
CHATSWORTH HOUSE, DERBYSHIRE:
Every woman should marry for her own advantage since her husband will represent her, as visible as her front door, for the rest of his life. If she chooses a wastrel she will be avoided by all her neighbors as a poor woman; catch a duke and she will be Your Grace, and everyone will be her friend. She can be pious, she can be learned, she can be witty and wise and beautiful, but if she is married to a fool she will be "that poor Mrs. Fool" until the day he dies.
And I have good reason to respect my own opinion in the matter of husbands having had three of them, and each one, God bless him, served as stepping stone to the next until I got my fourth, my earl, and I am now "my lady Countess of Shrewsbury": a rise greater than that of any woman I know. I am where I am today by making the most of myself, and getting the best price for what I could bring to market. I am a self-made woman -- self-made, self-polished, and self-sold -- and proud of it.
Indeed, no woman in England has done better than me. For though we have a queen on the throne, she is only there by the skill of her mother, and the feebleness of her father's other stock, and not through any great gifts of her own. If you kept a Tudor for a breeder you would eat him for meat in your second winter. They are poor weak beasts, and this Tudor queen must make up her mind to wed, bed, and breed, or the country will be ruined.
If she does not give us a bonny Protestant boy then she will abandon us to disaster, for her heir is another woman: a young woman, a vain woman, a sinful woman, an idolatrous Papist woman, God forgive her errors and save us from the destruction she will bring us. Some days you hear one story of Mary Queen of Scots, some days another. What you will never, never hear, even if you listen a hundred times, even when the story is told by her adoring admirers, is the story of a woman who consults her own interest, thinks for herself, and marries for her best advantage. But since in this life a woman is a piece of property, she does well to consider her improvement, her sale at the best price, and her future ownership. What else? Shall she let herself tumble down?
A pity that such a foolish young woman should be foisted on me and my household, even for a short stay, while Her Majesty Elizabeth the Queen decides what is to be done with this most awkward guest. But no house in the kingdom can be trusted to entertain and -- yes -- secure her like mine. No husband in England could be trusted with such a Salome dancing on his terrace but mine. Only my household is run with such discipline that we can accommodate a queen of royal blood in the style that she commands and with the safety that she must have. Only my newly wedded husband is so dotingly fond of me that he is safe under the same roof as such a temptress.
No one knows of this arrangement yet; it has been decided in secret by my good friend Secretary William Cecil and by me. As soon as this hopeless queen arrived in rags at Whitehaven, driven from Scotland by her rebellious lords, Cecil sent me a short note by an unknown messenger to ask if I would house her, and I sent him a one-word reply: yes. Yes indeed! I am honored by Cecil's faith in me. From such trust comes great challenges, and from great challenges come great rewards. This new world of Elizabeth's is for those who can see their chances and take them. I foresee honors and riches if we can host this royal cousin and keep her close. Cecil can rely on me. I shall guard her and befriend her, I shall house and feed her, I shall treat her royally and honorably and keep her safe as a little bird in the nest till the moment of...