The Other Queen

( 257 )

Overview

From #1 New York Times bestselling author and “queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory—a dazzling new novel about the intriguing, romantic, and maddening Mary, Queen of Scots.

Fleeing violent rebellions in Scotland, Mary looks to Queen Elizabeth of England for sanctuary. Though promised protection, Mary, perceived as a serious threat to the English crown, is soon imprisoned by her former friend as a “guest” in the house of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his ...

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Overview

From #1 New York Times bestselling author and “queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory—a dazzling new novel about the intriguing, romantic, and maddening Mary, Queen of Scots.

Fleeing violent rebellions in Scotland, Mary looks to Queen Elizabeth of England for sanctuary. Though promised protection, Mary, perceived as a serious threat to the English crown, is soon imprisoned by her former friend as a “guest” in the house of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick. The newly married couple welcomes the condemned queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court.

To their horror, they grow to realize that the task will bankrupt their estate and lose them what little favor they’ve managed to gain as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Queen Elizabeth. And Mary is not as hopeless as she appears, manipulating the earl and spinning her own web of treachery and deceit, as she sharpens her weapons to reclaim her Scottish throne—and to take over Queen Elizabeth’s of England.

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  • The White Queen
    The White Queen  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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.
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

Diana Gabaldon
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
Publishers Weekly

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.
Library Journal

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
—Lisa Anderson

Kirkus Reviews
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416549147
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 7/14/2009
  • Series: Philippa Gregory Tudor Series , #6
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 92,625
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her Cousins’ War novels are the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries The White Queen. She studied history at the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.

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    1. Hometown:
      Yorkshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 9, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa
    1. Education:
      B.A. in history, Sussex University, 1982; Ph.D., 18th-century popular fiction, Edinburgh, 1984
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

1568, AUTUMN,

CHATSWORTH HOUSE, DERBYSHIRE:

BESS

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...

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Introduction

For Discussion

1. Bess describes George and herself as newlyweds happy and in love. On page 2, she says, "Only my newly wedded husband is so dotingly fond of me that he is safe under the same roof as such a temptress." What is it that first makes Bess uneasy about her husband's feelings towards Queen Mary?

2. Authors often challenge themselves by writing from the point of view of characters of the opposite sex. Do you think Gregory does a convincing job of creating her main male character, George Talbot? Do you think he is more or less realistic than the women in this novel, such as his wife, Bess, or Queens Mary and Elizabeth?

3. George and Bess marry for choice and admiration. Identify how they describe one another early in the novel, and discuss how their opinions change over the course of the story. Do you think they ever really knew one another, or do you think their affection is just another casualty of Mary and Elizabeth's treacherous conflict?

4. On page 55, George compares Elizabeth and Mary. He says, "My queen Elizabeth is a most solid being, as earthy as a man. But this is a queen who is all air and angels. She is a queen of fire and smoke." How else are the two queens compared throughout the novel by different characters? How do they describe themselves in comparison to each other?

5. George holds tightly to a noble, genteel way of life that has all but slipped away in England under Elizabeth's rule. How do you feel about his devotion to Queen Elizabeth given the circumstances of the times? Do you think Bess ultimately betrays her husband, or does she save him from himself? How might you deal with your own spouse if your fundamental beliefsand loyalties rested on opposite sides?

6. Examine both Mary's reasoning for her belief that her cousin Elizabeth must naturally support her as the heir to the English throne and restore her to the Scottish throne, and Elizabeth's reasoning for the actions she takes to keep Mary subordinated and under a watchful eye. With whom do you sympathize most, and why?

7. At the heart of the conflict between Queens Elizabeth and Mary is a power struggle between the "new ways" of Protestant England and the "old ways" of Catholicism. How has the transition to Protestantism changed England as portrayed in this novel? In what ways do George and Bess serve as representatives of these two Englands?

8. Set in a religious time period, God naturally played an important role in all aspects of these characters' lives. Compare and contrast the various characters' interpretation of religion and their relationship to God with respect to their Papist or Protestant sensibilities. How do the characters differ in their use of God as justification and enlightenment?

9. Bess thinks George is a great fool. Mary finds him entirely honorable, and yet she relates to her rapist and captor, Bothwell, more powerfully. What do you think of these men? How do these two men compare to other significant male characters in the novel such as Cecil, Hastings, the Duke of Norfolk, and Ralph Sadler?

10. Throughout the novel, George and Bess are constantly in opposition. George fears and detests the "new England" that he believes Cecil has created, while Bess sees Cecil's reforms as part of a golden dawn for England and for all Protestants. Who has the stronger character? Which side do you think you'd choose?

11. On page 225, Bothwell tells Mary, "The magic of royalty is an illusion that can be shattered by a man without a conscience." What significance does this observation have for the novel and for this time in history? Using examples from the novel to support your opinion, explain why you either agree or disagree. Similarly, discuss the parallels between the effects of lifting the mystery of royalty and lifting the mystery of religion as described in this novel.

12. What understanding do Bess and Mary finally come to about one another? Do you think either can truly understand the other's perspective, given such wildly different upbringings?

13. In the end, George is utterly heartbroken to learn that Mary has lied to him and to most everyone else. In her defense, Mary explains that she cannot possibly give her "true word" while under duress and imprisoned. Do you think this is just an excuse? Why or why not?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. The Shrewsburys and Queen Mary trek back and forth across the English countryside multiple times throughout the novel. Make a map tracing their journeys complete with a timeline of dates to get a visual representation of how unsettling this time period must have been for the entire household.

2. The Other Queen presents a darker Elizabeth than has currently been popularized in movies such as Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). Watch these films with your book club and compare their portrayal of various historic figures to their counterparts in Gregory's novel.

3. Get a better sense of the time period in which this novel takes place by doing a little research on Tudor England. You can start with www.localhistories.org/tudor.html. You can also read more about some of the estates that served as settings for this novel, including Chatsworth, Tutbury Castle, and Bess's own home of Hardwick Hall at: www.chatsworth.org/learning/history.htm; www.tutburycastle.com; and www.derbycity.com/derby2/hardwick.html.

Philippa Gregory is the New York Times bestselling author of several books, including The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance. A writer and broadcaster for radio and television, she lives in England. She welcomes visitors and messages at her website, www.philippagregory.com.

Bianca Amato was born in South Africa, and lives in New York City. U.S. productions include The Importance of Being Earnest, Pride and Prejudice, Pygmalion, and As You Like it.

Dagmara Dominczyk's film credits are Rock Star, The Count of Monte Cristo, Kinsey, and Lonely Hearts. On television she's appeared in Five People You Meet in Heaven, and 24. Her Broadway appearences are Closer, Enchanted April, and The Violet Hour.

Malcolm Graeme has appeared on and off Broadway in Aida, The King and I, Lincoln Center's Hapgood, and M. Butterfly (National Tour). His television appearances include Law & Order, Follow the River, and Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson (with Laurence Olivier). Film credits include A Further Gesture, The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, and Reunion.

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Reading Group Guide

For Discussion

1. Bess describes George and herself as newlyweds happy and in love. On page 2, she says, "Only my newly wedded husband is so dotingly fond of me that he is safe under the same roof as such a temptress." What is it that first makes Bess uneasy about her husband's feelings towards Queen Mary?

2. Authors often challenge themselves by writing from the point of view of characters of the opposite sex. Do you think Gregory does a convincing job of creating her main male character, George Talbot? Do you think he is more or less realistic than the women in this novel, such as his wife, Bess, or Queens Mary and Elizabeth?

3. George and Bess marry for choice and admiration. Identify how they describe one another early in the novel, and discuss how their opinions change over the course of the story. Do you think they ever really knew one another, or do you think their affection is just another casualty of Mary and Elizabeth's treacherous conflict?

4. On page 55, George compares Elizabeth and Mary. He says, "My queen Elizabeth is a most solid being, as earthy as a man. But this is a queen who is all air and angels. She is a queen of fire and smoke." How else are the two queens compared throughout the novel by different characters? How do they describe themselves in comparison to each other?

5. George holds tightly to a noble, genteel way of life that has all but slipped away in England under Elizabeth's rule. How do you feel about his devotion to Queen Elizabeth given the circumstances of the times? Do you think Bess ultimately betrays her husband, or does she save him from himself? How might you deal with your own spouse if your fundamental beliefs and loyalties rested on opposite sides?

6. Examine both Mary's reasoning for her belief that her cousin Elizabeth must naturally support her as the heir to the English throne and restore her to the Scottish throne, and Elizabeth's reasoning for the actions she takes to keep Mary subordinated and under a watchful eye. With whom do you sympathize most, and why?

7. At the heart of the conflict between Queens Elizabeth and Mary is a power struggle between the "new ways" of Protestant England and the "old ways" of Catholicism. How has the transition to Protestantism changed England as portrayed in this novel? In what ways do George and Bess serve as representatives of these two Englands?

8. Set in a religious time period, God naturally played an important role in all aspects of these characters' lives. Compare and contrast the various characters' interpretation of religion and their relationship to God with respect to their Papist or Protestant sensibilities. How do the characters differ in their use of God as justification and enlightenment?

9. Bess thinks George is a great fool. Mary finds him entirely honorable, and yet she relates to her rapist and captor, Bothwell, more powerfully. What do you think of these men? How do these two men compare to other significant male characters in the novel such as Cecil, Hastings, the Duke of Norfolk, and Ralph Sadler?

10. Throughout the novel, George and Bess are constantly in opposition. George fears and detests the "new England" that he believes Cecil has created, while Bess sees Cecil's reforms as part of a golden dawn for England and for all Protestants. Who has the stronger character? Which side do you think you'd choose?

11. On page 225, Bothwell tells Mary, "The magic of royalty is an illusion that can be shattered by a man without a conscience." What significance does this observation have for the novel and for this time in history? Using examples from the novel to support your opinion, explain why you either agree or disagree. Similarly, discuss the parallels between the effects of lifting the mystery of royalty and lifting the mystery of religion as described in this novel.

12. What understanding do Bess and Mary finally come to about one another? Do you think either can truly understand the other's perspective, given such wildly different upbringings?

13. In the end, George is utterly heartbroken to learn that Mary has lied to him and to most everyone else. In her defense, Mary explains that she cannot possibly give her "true word" while under duress and imprisoned. Do you think this is just an excuse? Why or why not?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. The Shrewsburys and Queen Mary trek back and forth across the English countryside multiple times throughout the novel. Make a map tracing their journeys complete with a timeline of dates to get a visual representation of how unsettling this time period must have been for the entire household.

2. The Other Queen presents a darker Elizabeth than has currently been popularized in movies such as Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). Watch these films with your book club and compare their portrayal of various historic figures to their counterparts in Gregory's novel.

3. Get a better sense of the time period in which this novel takes place by doing a little research on Tudor England. You can start with www.localhistories.org/tudor.html. You can also read more about some of the estates that served as settings for this novel, including Chatsworth, Tutbury Castle, and Bess's own home of Hardwick Hall at: www.chatsworth.org/learning/history.htm; www.tutburycastle.com; and www.derbycity.com/derby2/hardwick.html.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 257 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(60)

4 Star

(92)

3 Star

(60)

2 Star

(35)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 258 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    So disappointed after waiting so long!

    Let me say first that I am a huge Philippa Gregory fan and generally love her work. This book however, was long and boring. The subject itself was a good choice the storyline in my opinion was dull and lifeless. The Queen being moved from one place to another, plotting her escape.....yawn. I wish she would have chose to write about the queen during her time upon the throne. The Queen of Scots had a fascinating life during her reign, full of scandal and turmoil. It would have made a sensational historical novel.
    I usually read one of Philippa's books in a day and reread them several times. I had to force myself to finish this one and I will not reread it.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 22, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Other View

    This is a story told in segments, with each chapter telling one's story, and then rotating to each other. It makes for frustrating reading as the pacing is horrible. I am well familiar with the story and looked forward to a dramatic telling, but this is a very disappointing book.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2008

    Such a disappointment

    I usually LOVE Philippa Gregory's books and I was so excited for this one to come out, but I only got half way through the book because it was incredibly slow, repetitive and BORING. There was hardly any dialogue in the book! Even if a book is slow, I usually try to force myself to finish, but I just couldn't with this one. Poorly written and just no story. Hopefully, Gregory will reprove herself with her next one because I love all of her other books!!!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    If you like a story line that jumps around..

    I picked up this book because I love Gregory's other books. However, it really was a waste of my time and money. There really was no story. It was constantly jumping around from character to character. I did not like that there were 3 points of view, constantly shifting the focus of the reader. Overall, I think that it was poorly written. If you are a die-hard fan of Gregory's, please check it out of the library, do not purchase it.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    If you want to learn history, this is the way.

    Another Philippa book that I couldn't put down. I understood Bess' frustration. Her husband, George was a fool. Now I'm onto
    " The Constant Princess."

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2008

    Not her best work

    This story is not nearly as compelling as her previous books have been. I had a hard time staying interested in the plot.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 23, 2010

    Mary Queen of Scots attempts to regain the throne of Scotland

    As in Philippa Gregory's other novels in this series, knowledge of the history of the Tudors is helpful. The author's style takes some getting used to; the title of the chapter tells to whose perspective the story has now shifted. The Other Queen tells of the struggle of Mary Queen of Scots' attempts to reclaim her throne and the political rivalries with her cousin Elizabeth I and her court. This is a well researched fictional account of that struggle, well written and a quick read.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    powerfully written, but not well written

    This book is written with vehemence but is not well written. I really disdain the way that Mary Queen of Scots is painted.She takes the angle that Bothwell raped Mary and the truth of the romance is eclipsed.Bothwell is an amazing figure, and he isn't even part of this book other than the letters she writes. I also dislike the format, going back and forth between three perspectives because it really doesn't connect the way it should. The vocabulary is simple and there's no imagery. You can't escape with this book. I literally had to force myself to pick it up and finish it, whereas Margaret George's books I couldn't put down. Philippa Gregory may be a big name, but just because her books are popular doesn't mean they are quality.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2012

    This is without question the most tedious read in Philippa Grego

    This is without question the most tedious read in Philippa Gregory's library of books. Billed as "the untold story" there really were few surprises. If you have read even a smattering of English and French history you would know that Mary Stuart is a spoiled, vain and charming woman, and royal many times over... the Queen of Scotland, as daughter of James V, the Queen of France, through marriage to Francois II, and the legitimate heir to the English throne, as grand niece of Henry VIII. But though she is body royal, she is also despised in all three of her lands. Her mother in law, Catherine de Medici, former queen of France and now regent of France, despises her. The Lords of Scotland have driven her out of their country and forced her to abdicate. And her cousin Elizabeth I distrusts her and is housing her as a prisoner/guest with the Lord and Lady of Shrewsbury, the highest lord in England, while her adviser William Cecil (and his assorted spies) watch Mary and collect evidence that will lead to her downfall.

    The book is told from three different perspectives. Mary Stuart, George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and Mary's jailer "host" who falls under her spell, and his wife, Bess of Hardwick, a self made woman who has married up 4 times and is now a woman of wealth and land. Bess and George are newlyweds when Mary Stuart arrives, but the strain and expense of housing their queenly guest tears their marriage and finances asunder. The most interesting chapters are the ones told from Bess's perspective. She has a longtime friendship with spymaster Cecil and is the only one who sees the inevitability of Mary's destruction.

    The only surprise in this book is the fact that Gregory decided to paint Elizabeth R in such a negative light, as a pawn of William Cecil and a desperately vain and insecure woman who is motivated in part by jealousy. The other surprise is how few pages were spent on the death of Mary, in contrast to that of her betrothed, Thomas Howard, the earl of Norfolk. (yes, one of *those* doomed Howards. It is a family tradition for them to be sent to the Tower. His father, Henry Howard (earl of Surrey) also met with the block, and his grandfather came close to being beheaded several times.) I can believe that Elizabeth agonized far more over the death of Thomas Howard than over that of Mary Stuart.

    All in all, this book was an adequate read, but not really an enjoyable one. If you are looking for another Philippa Gregory page turner, this isn't it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2012

    good historical drama

    After reading a couple of biographies and becoming familiar with Mary’s story, I was ready for a fictional drama about her life. This novel focuses on Mary’s life after Lord Darnley’s murder and mostly revolves around her imprisonment in the custody of George Talbot and his wife, Bess. The story is told from three points of view and that makes it sort of confusing. I would have liked to have seen it told from Mary’s viewpoint. Not the best book by Philippa Gregory, but overall I enjoyed it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    An interesting read!

    I love reading Philippa Gregory's books on the Tudors! She puts so much fact into it and it really takes you back 500 years. It was a very interesting read into that time in England. Pretty easy to follow considering the story is told by 3 different people. A Tudor must read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    Finally the other story!

    I have always wanted to know the story of Queen Mary. The Tudor lineage runs in her, yet she is denied the throne of England. At least she should of waited her turn, and kept her followers down and quiet instead of creating a huge storm that would end in a tear of the family. This book speaks what went on, the truth, and all the back ways to the truth.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Other Queen

    Philippa Gregory is an author that just seems to get better with each book that she writes and The Other Queen is no acceptation. The Other Queen recounts the first three years of Mary Queen of Scots imprisonment in England by her cousin Elizabeth I. Queen Mary is placed in the guardianship of newlywed George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and Bess of Hardwick. The Scots Queen quickly becomes an unwelcome guest as she plots for her freedom and the overthrown of her royal cousin and drives a wedge between Talbot and his self made wife. The novel is full of intrigue and scandal and I found to be a fun read. One of Gregory's best!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2008

    A reviewer

    This was more than disappointing. The other books in this series are oustanding and I pre-ordered this book b/c I was so excited to read it. Snooze!! I couldn't even finish it. It was WAY too long and way too repetitive, which is a bad combo. Not worth the time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    Good book

    Tells a good story. Following along is easy. I like Mary Queen of Scots the character.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012

    Good but not my favorite of Gregory's books.

    I didn't know much about all three of the main characters and I enjoyed learning about them through the book. But I definitely felt like the book was dragging on. I didn't really connect with the characters or the love story. I still gave it three stars for enlightening me on the lives of Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    not her best

    Of all the Phillipa Gregory books I have read this was my least favorite. The story was slow in developing and I kept waiting for something to happen but it pretty much ended as it began. The writing was not bad and the characters were interesting I was just not crazy about the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

    Didnt finish it.

    I have read many novels by this author, but this was the first I didnt finish. It was slow and failed to keep my interest. I wanted to love it, but decided I had better things to do. Watch paint dry, boil some water......

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2011

    Liked it, but didn't love it

    I enjoyed this book, however I did feel a little left hanging. The story resolves itself and is well-spoken, but also doesn't quite feel complete. I'd recommend this book to young women who enjoy historical fiction without too much romance. I'm an avid Philippa Gregory reader, but I don't think this was one of her better books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Somewhat disappointing

    First of all let me say, I am a HUGE Philippa Gregory fan, however this book was very difficult to read. It was told in first person by 3 different people so it was hard to follow. It was interesting historically but was very hard to actually fall in love with any of the characters because just when you thought you were getting to know them, the story changed to another point of view.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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