The Queen's Fool

The Queen's Fool

by Philippa Gregory

Paperback(Original)

$15.29 $16.99 Save 10% Current price is $15.29, Original price is $16.99. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, November 26

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743246071
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 02/03/2004
Series: Plantagenet and Tudor Series
Edition description: Original
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 99,660
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her work has been adapted for the screen in The Other Boleyn Girl movie and the critically acclaimed STARZ miniseries The White Queen and The White Princess. Her most recent novel is The Last Tudor. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds two honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.

Hometown:

Yorkshire, England

Date of Birth:

January 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa

Education:

B.A. in history, Sussex University, 1982; Ph.D., 18th-century popular fiction, Edinburgh, 1984

Read an Excerpt

Summer 1548

The girl, giggling and overexcited, was running in the sunlit garden, running away from her stepfather, but not so fast that he could not catch her. Her stepmother, seated in an arbor with Rosamund roses in bud all around her, caught sight of the fourteen-year-old girl and the handsome man chasing around the broad tree trunks on the smooth turf and smiled, determined to see only the best in both of them: the girl she was bringing up and the man she had adored for years.

He snatched at the hem of the girl's swinging gown and caught her up to him for a moment. "A forfeit!" he said, his dark face close to her flushed cheeks.

They both knew what the forfeit would be. Like quicksilver she slid from his grasp and dodged away, to the far side of an ornamental fountain with a broad circular bowl. Fat carp were swimming slowly in the water; Elizabeth's excited face was reflected in the surface as she leaned forward to taunt him.

"Can't catch me!"

" 'Course I can."

She leaned low so that he could see her small breasts at the top of the square-cut green gown. She felt his eyes on her and the color in her cheeks deepened. He watched, amused and aroused, as her neck flushed rosy pink.

"I can catch you any time I want to," he said, thinking of the chase of sex that ends in bed.

"Come on then!" she said, not knowing exactly what she was inviting, but knowing that she wanted to hear his feet pounding the grass behind her, sense his hands outstretched to grab at her; and, more than anything else, to feel his arms around her, pulling her against the fascinating contours of his body, the scratchy embroidery of his doublet against her cheek, the press of his thigh against her legs.

She gave a little scream and dashed away again down an allée of yew trees, where the Chelsea garden ran down to the river. The queen, smiling, looked up from her sewing and saw her beloved stepdaughter racing between the trees, her handsome husband a few easy strides behind. She looked down again at her sewing and did not see him catch Elizabeth, whirl her around, put her back to the red papery bark of the yew tree and clamp his hand over her half-open mouth.

Elizabeth's eyes blazed black with excitement, but she did not struggle. When he realized that she would not scream, he took his hand away and bent his dark head.

Elizabeth felt the smooth sweep of his moustache against her lips, smelled the heady scent of his hair, his skin. She closed her eyes and tipped back her head to offer her lips, her neck, her breasts to his mouth. When she felt his sharp teeth graze her skin, she was no longer a giggling child, she was a young woman in the heat of first desire.

Gently he loosened his grip on her waist, and his hand stole up the firmly boned stomacher to the neck of her gown, where he could slide a finger down inside her linen to touch her breasts. Her nipple was hard and aroused; when he rubbed it she gave a little mew of pleasure that made him laugh at the predictability of female desire, a deep chuckle in the back of his throat.

Elizabeth pressed herself against the length of his body, feeling his thigh push forward between her legs in reply. She had a sensation like an overwhelming curiosity. She longed to know what might happen next.

When he made a movement away from her, as if to release her, she wound her arms around his back and pulled him into her again. She felt rather than saw Tom Seymour's smile of pleasure at her culpability, as his mouth came down on hers again and his tongue licked, as delicate as a cat, against the side of her mouth. Torn between disgust and desire at the extraordinary sensation, she slid her own tongue to meet his and felt the terrible intimacy of a grown man's intrusive kiss.

All at once it was too much for her, and she shrank back from him, but he knew the rhythm of this dance which she had so lightheartedly invoked, and which would now beat through her very veins. He caught at the hem of her brocade skirt and pulled it up and up until he could get at her, sliding his practiced hand up her thighs, underneath her linen shift. Instinctively she clamped her legs together against his touch until he brushed, with calculated gentleness, the back of his hand on her hidden sex. At the teasing touch of his knuckles, she melted; he could feel her almost dissolve beneath him. She would have fallen if he had not had a firm arm around her waist, and he knew at that moment that he could have the king's own daughter, Princess Elizabeth, against a tree in the queen's garden. The girl was a virgin in name alone. In reality, she was little more than a whore.

A light step on the path made him quickly turn, dropping Elizabeth's gown and putting her behind him, out of sight. Anyone could read the tranced willingness on the girl's face; she was lost in her desire. He was afraid it was the queen, his wife, whose love for him was insulted every day that he seduced her ward under her very nose: the queen, who had been entrusted with the care of her stepdaughter the princess, Queen Katherine who had sat at Henry VIII's deathbed but dreamed of this man.

But it was not the queen who stood before him on the path. It was only a girl, a little girl of about nine years old, with big solemn dark eyes and a white Spanish cap tied under her chin. She carried two books strapped with bookseller's tape in her hand, and she regarded him with a cool objective interest, as if she had seen and understood everything.

"How now, sweetheart!" he exclaimed, falsely cheerful. "You gave me a start. I might have thought you a fairy, appearing so suddenly."

She frowned at his rapid, overloud speech, and then she replied, very slowly with a strong Spanish accent, "Forgive me, sir. My father told me to bring these books to Sir Thomas Seymour and they said you were in the garden."

She proffered the package of books, and Tom Seymour was forced to step forward and take them from her hands. "You're the bookseller's daughter," he said cheerfully. "The bookseller from Spain."

She bowed her head in assent, not taking her dark scrutiny from his face. "What are you staring at, child?" he asked, conscious of Elizabeth, hastily rearranging her gown behind him.

"I was looking at you, sir, but I saw something most dreadful."

"What?" he demanded. For a moment he was afraid she would say that she had seen him with the Princess of England backed up against a tree like a common doxy, her skirt pulled up out of the way and his fingers dabbling at her purse.

"I saw a scaffold behind you," said the surprising child, and then turned and walked away as if she had completed her errand and there was nothing more for her to do in the sunlit garden.

Tom Seymour whirled back to Elizabeth, who was trying to comb her disordered hair with fingers that were still shaking with desire. At once she stretched out her arms to him, wanting more.

"Did you hear that?"

Elizabeth's eyes were slits of black. "No," she said silkily. "Did she say something?"

"She only said that she saw the scaffold behind me!" He was more shaken than he wanted to reveal. He tried for a bluff laugh, but it came out with a quaver of fear.

At the mention of the scaffold Elizabeth was suddenly alert. "Why?" she snapped. "Why should she say such a thing?"

"God knows," he said. "Stupid little witch. Probably mistook the word, she's foreign. Probably meant throne! Probably saw the throne behind me!"

But this joke was no more successful than his bluster, since in Elizabeth's imagination the throne and the scaffold were always close neighbors. The color drained from her face, leaving her sallow with fear.

"Who is she?" Her voice was sharp with nervousness. "Who is she working for?"

He turned to look for the child but the allée was empty. At the distant end of it he could see his wife walking slowly toward them, her back arched to carry the pregnant curve of her belly.

"Not a word," he said quickly to the girl at his side. "Not a word of this, sweetheart. You don't want to upset your stepmother."

He hardly needed to warn her. At the first hint of danger the girl was wary, smoothing her dress, conscious always that she must play a part, that she must survive. He could always rely on Elizabeth's duplicity. She might be only fourteen but she had been trained in deceit every day since the death of her mother, she had been an apprentice cheat for twelve long years. And she was the daughter of a liar -- two liars, he thought spitefully. She might feel desire; but she was always more alert to danger or ambition than to lust. He took her cold hand and led her up the allée toward his wife Katherine. He tried for a merry smile. "I caught her at last!" he called out.

He glanced around, he could not see the child anywhere. "We had such a race!" he cried.

I was that child, and that was the first sight I ever had of the Princess Elizabeth: damp with desire, panting with lust, rubbing herself like a cat against another woman's husband. But it was the first and last time I saw Tom Seymour. Within a year, he was dead on the scaffold charged with treason, and Elizabeth had denied three times having anything more than the most common acquaintance with him.

Copyright © 2004 by Philippa Gregory Limited

Reading Group Guide

Touchstone
Reading Group Guide
The Queen's Fool
1. What kind of tone does the novel's opening scene instantly set, and what does it tell us up front about Hannah's and Elizabeth's characters? If you've read other fictional accounts of Elizabeth's life, how does this portrayal of her compare?
2. In public, Hannah plays the fool to Mary's queen, but in private their bond is more intimate. Why is the relationship valuable to each of them, both personally and politically? How is Hannah's connection to Elizabeth different?
3. Hannah is smitten with Robert Dudley from the moment she spots him in her doorway, an angel at his shoulder. How would you describe the bond that develops between them — and how does it change over time?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being the queen's fool instead of a normal courtier?
5. Haunted by the Spanish Inquisition, Hannah describes her Judaism as "some sickness that we pass on," claiming that Jews are condemned to "a lifetime of fear, not Chosen so much as cursed." How do her feelings toward her faith change over the course of the story and why?
6. In the grip of her Sight, Hannah delivers this prophecy: "There will be a child, but no child. There will be a king but no king. There will be a virgin queen all-forgotten. There will be a queen but no virgin....[Dudley] will die, beloved by a queen, safe in his bed." Ultimately, how does history unravel her cryptic prediction?
7. As Mary's marriage falters and her unhappiness grows, she becomes increasingly obsessed with restoring the glory of the Catholic Church through the fires of an English inquisition. Given that Hannah's own mother was killed in just such a fire, how is she able to justify Mary's bloody reign? Did you sympathize with her unswerving loyalty?
8. What changes in both Hannah and Daniel allow their initially contentious relationship to blossom into love? Did you agree with Hannah's decision to leave him when she discovers another woman has borne his child?
9. How does King Henry VIII's dishonorable treatment of Catherine of Aragon continue to affect England even years after their deaths? Why is Mary driven to convert all of England back to Catholicism?
10. Poised to burn books that could condemn her and her father as heretics, Hannah stays her hand, explaining, "If I burned them I was no better than the Inquisition which had killed my mother. If I burned them, I became as one of those who think that ideas are dangerous and should be destroyed." What would you have done in her place? In a world where knowledge was very dangerous, how does Hannah's Sight make her both powerful and vulnerable?
11. What is your estimation of Dudley's character? Do you think he is a true friend to Hannah?
12. Why does Hannah cling to the boyish dress of the fool for so long? Why is she so afraid to become a woman, and what finally inspires her transformation?
13. At the end of her life, Mary finds herself in the place she has most feared: She is a forgotten queen, cast aside by her husband and her people, overthrown in their hearts by a Boleyn girl, just as her mother was. Do you think that this end was her destiny? Are there other paths she might have chosen that would have led her to a long and happy reign?
14. If you're familiar with Elizabeth's history, discuss how the events in this novel foreshadow both what is to come in her reign as queen and in her relationship with Robert Dudley.

Introduction

Touchstone

Reading Group Guide

The Queen's Fool

1. What kind of tone does the novel's opening scene instantly set, and what does it tell us up front about Hannah's and Elizabeth's characters? If you've read other fictional accounts of Elizabeth's life, how does this portrayal of her compare?

2. In public, Hannah plays the fool to Mary's queen, but in private their bond is more intimate. Why is the relationship valuable to each of them, both personally and politically? How is Hannah's connection to Elizabeth different?

3. Hannah is smitten with Robert Dudley from the moment she spots him in her doorway, an angel at his shoulder. How would you describe the bond that develops between them — and how does it change over time?

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being the queen's fool instead of a normal courtier?

5. Haunted by the Spanish Inquisition, Hannah describes her Judaism as "some sickness that we pass on," claiming that Jews are condemned to "a lifetime of fear, not Chosen so much as cursed." How do her feelings toward her faith change over the course of the story and why?

6. In the grip of her Sight, Hannah delivers this prophecy: "There will be a child, but no child. There will be a king but no king. There will be a virgin queen all-forgotten. There will be a queen but no virgin....[Dudley] will die, beloved by a queen, safe in his bed." Ultimately, how does history unravel her cryptic prediction?

7. As Mary's marriage falters and her unhappiness grows, she becomes increasingly obsessed with restoring the glory of the Catholic Church through the fires of an English inquisition. Given that Hannah's ownmother was killed in just such a fire, how is she able to justify Mary's bloody reign? Did you sympathize with her unswerving loyalty?

8. What changes in both Hannah and Daniel allow their initially contentious relationship to blossom into love? Did you agree with Hannah's decision to leave him when she discovers another woman has borne his child?

9. How does King Henry VIII's dishonorable treatment of Catherine of Aragon continue to affect England even years after their deaths? Why is Mary driven to convert all of England back to Catholicism?

10. Poised to burn books that could condemn her and her father as heretics, Hannah stays her hand, explaining, "If I burned them I was no better than the Inquisition which had killed my mother. If I burned them, I became as one of those who think that ideas are dangerous and should be destroyed." What would you have done in her place? In a world where knowledge was very dangerous, how does Hannah's Sight make her both powerful and vulnerable?

11. What is your estimation of Dudley's character? Do you think he is a true friend to Hannah?

12. Why does Hannah cling to the boyish dress of the fool for so long? Why is she so afraid to become a woman, and what finally inspires her transformation?

13. At the end of her life, Mary finds herself in the place she has most feared: She is a forgotten queen, cast aside by her husband and her people, overthrown in their hearts by a Boleyn girl, just as her mother was. Do you think that this end was her destiny? Are there other paths she might have chosen that would have led her to a long and happy reign?

14. If you're familiar with Elizabeth's history, discuss how the events in this novel foreshadow both what is to come in her reign as queen and in her relationship with Robert Dudley.

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Queen's Fool 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 449 reviews.
BANCHEE_READS More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. My favorite Gregory novel is The Other Boleyn Girl, and this comes a close second. Other reviewers have criticized the author for her portrayals of Mary and Elizabeth in this book, but everyone needs to keep in mind that we are viewing these women through Hannah's eyes, and this is fiction, not a historical textbook. Hannah is a very likeable character, who struggles throughout the book to come to terms with her gift of sight, her religious faith and her place in the world as a woman. In this book, as in The Other Boleyn Girl, it's the slow-building, passionate love story that touches me the most. The love story of Hannah and Daniel is very well-written and is my favorite part of the book. It is easy to see what draws them to each other and what keeps them apart. Though the road is bumpy, I was very pleased with the ending. My only complaint would be that I thought the book ended a few pages too soon. (In fact, I would love to see a sequel about the next chapter in Hannah's life.) After everything Hannah went through to discover what she truly wanted, and after everything she went through to get it, I would have liked to see a more passionate ending and a little more assurance that Hannah's future would be as happy as I wanted it to be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoy Philippa Gregory's books, but this book is relentlessly gloomy. It was a perilous time for high and low, Catholic or Protestant by turns but the heroine's thoughts never stray from the imminent possibility of death because she is a 'converted' Jew, although she gains a privileged position with both of Henry the VIII's daughters at court. Both Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth dwell nearly every waking moment on the possibility they will be either overthrown and put to death or put to death for treason. Mary enjoys brief happiness on her marriage, soon dashed. Elizabeth literally gets ill with fear again and again. Elizabeth was a brilliant woman, judged to have the genius IQ her father, Henry, is also believed to have had. Yet Gregory has Mary accuse her of being a bastard by a lute player, which has to be taken as Mary's hatred and paranoia. Elizabeth had too many traits in common with her royal father for anyone to believe this was anything but a false accusation used to send Anne Boleyn to the block. Gregory portrayed Anne Boleyn as a raving shrew in THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, with Katherine of Aragon rightly the victim she was. Anne Boleyn was calculating and selfish, but lost her head because she didn't bear Henry a son. However, I see a pattern of soft-pedaling of the excesses of the old Catholic order and the Inquisition, while the Protestant monarchy that prevailed is denigrated by unpleasant accusations about Elizabeth, and there is inexcusable downplaying of Bloody Mary's campaign of mass murder of suspected Protestants by burning at the stake. Much blood was spilled before Mary, with priests and Catholics true to their faith masquerading and in hiding but Elizabeth did not start burning Catholics when she took the throne. Calling her a callous seductress even at age 14, rather than seeing an awakening teenaged girl chased and perhaps seduced by Thomas Seymour, is ludicrous. Supposedly she even swung her hips when she walked to seduce Mary's husband, Phillip. Who reported this, if any historical source? That doesn't play for me. It was a tightrope she walked, not instead her wicked nature to be a tease. She probably wasn't a virgin queen, only an unmarried one but I think Gregory tries too hard to paint her as less sympathetic than Mary, when Mary was a woman almost addled on the subject of religion and devoid of conscience at what she did. Not that a lot of people weren't then, and still are now--witness Northern Ireland and the Islamic terrorists who bomb innocents in the name of their religion. I have to confess much as I love historical fiction, and know religious fanaticism played a threatening role in that world, I am getting bored with characters who natter on about it all the time. I disliked much about THE BIRTH OF VENUS by Sarah Dunant for this reason--I want a human story to dominate in a novel, not constant thoughts of saints or what is the correct route to heaven. Hannah Verde is the protagonist, yet she is dwarfed by the events portrayed and there were contrived events that conveniently sent her back to England when she escaped that clunked in the plot. This isn't like Philippa Gregory, not the writer I've admired.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so disappointed with this one,I know this one was only my second book by her but it was awful.Everybody giving their reviews were being just nice,I hope the rest aren't like this one.Loved The Other Boleyn Girl.
tehtarik More than 1 year ago
bought this book expecting the same interest with other boleyn girl (5 star from me). unfortunately been dragging myslelf to finish it. the long and slow and unimportant plot can be shorten.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe I would have rated it higher if I hadn't read "The other Boleyn girl" first. It just fell flat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was great. I always enjoy Gregory's books in the Tudor family. I felt the story dragged on a little at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As usual, Gregory crafts addictive and intricate historical accounts of life in the Tudor period. Another well written story....cant wait for the next.
penname96 More than 1 year ago
I love the fact that you learn history while reading Philippa's books. I'm sure like many, I stop and google and research while I go along. It's fascinating. The only part that stumped me was Mary's first pregnancy. I have since researched and learned that she had convinced her body that she was pregnant. Reading the book, I was intrigued and freaked out that her baby had died in the wound at 9 months and that she continued to carry the dead child for so long after. Now I know, it was all imagined. I also didn't know court fools existed. People have complained about the way Elizabeth was portrayed. I think she was very smart and did what she had to do to survive. I just ordered "The Virgin Queen" can't wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Phillipa Gregory is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. Her ability to blend fiction with factual characters is a pleasure to read. Great story, a real page turner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Imagine living in the time of King Edward, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Imagine being a courtier or a lady in waiting in their great court. Wouldn¿t that be astonishing? I get this feeling every time I read The Queen¿s Fool, written by Philippa Gregory. I find it amazing how Gregory can turn back time the moment you have read the first line. Even though most books can pull you into them and make you feel like you are there, Gregory does an excellent job of making the reader feel like they are the character whose eyes through which the story is seen. I found it hard to believe that when I looked up from reading I was in my room and not in fact strolling around the gardens of Hampton Court. Gregory has taken a story that we all know and has permeated it with an exceptional sense of intrigue, suspense, drama, and surprise, making it seem as if it is a whole new story. This novel seems to include everything: being recruited as a ¿holy fool¿ for the king, being sent by your master to spy on the heir, running away from the king¿s army, running away only to turn back, running away and not turning back, making a new life, being caught in a battle that makes you turn back to the life you ran away from, and making a new life in the country you ran away from. Believe me, without reading this novel you are missing out on a lot of Tudor intrigue.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book sounded great on the cover but once I started to read it I just could not get past the first few chapters...it did not keep my interest in the slightest...The story was slow and dull...I hope the rest of her books are more upbeat...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book thinking that it would be interesting..... Boy was I ever wrong! The beginning immediately drew me into the book, but as I progressed, I began to become increasingly more bored. By the end all I felt was a gasp of relief thinking 'it is done.' It was a good book to put me to sleep at night when I found myself being plagued by insomina. The women seemed too detached and not real. This book did nothing for me and in fact I can truly say it was the worst book I've read in a long time. I certainly will not be venturing any further into the endeavors of this author....
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was all right up until the ending. I won't give it away but Hannah slips completely out of character. None of the characters are really fully revealed. I didn't connect with any of the story's characters. Hannah's paradoxical approach to life along with Gregory's ambiguous storyline leaves the book feeling unfinished. It's a bit absurd to me that some people gave this book five stars. The ending actually upset me so much that I tossed the book across the room.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book of Gregory's books that I have read. Disappointing is definitely the wood I would choose to describe it. Not only was Hannah, the main character inconsistent and 'flat' in personality, she seemed to drop out of the modern feminist mold, which would be just fine if that could be conceivable during the highly patriarchal system of the 1500s. The men is the book were either philanderers or solid but demeaning to women. Hanna constantly makes strange claims about love that we as readers cannot make sense of. Why does she love the handsome but immoral and traitorous Lord Robert; 'He is wonderful,' as Hannah puts it, doesn't really make us understand. Also, she treats several male characters in very rudely, so rudely that if the roles were reversed we would highly dislike the men whose mouths the words were coming out of. In fact, it's hard to like much of anyone in this book. We, unlike Hannah, don't respect the husband stealing Elizabeth or love the heretic burning Mary. We may like or understand them at certain points, but we cannot relate to them as Hannah does. Again, maybe this is because we cannot relate to Hannah, the cutout from modern times pasted in the past.
avidreaderCR More than 1 year ago
Phillippa Gregory does a wonderful job with historical fiction. Most of the charactors are real historical figures and she does a good job of combining fact with fiction, weaving a wonderful, believable story around these charactors.
jbevans More than 1 year ago
The Queen's Fool is yet another beautifully written novel by Philippa Gregory. It is written from the perspective of the great Queen Mary's "holy fool", Hannah, who gives us a feeling of finally knowing a commoner, someone who can give us some insight as to how the people of England were living outside of the royal court. This is not the most exciting book in the series, but is very important as far as giving detailed background information on characters who become the focus of the next book The Virgin's Lover. If you've read and enjoyed any other novels from Philippa Gregory's Tudor series this is a MUST read!!
Tiffannie More than 1 year ago
Since it came after The Other Boleyn Girl, I expected it to be really good. It was good but just not what I expected. I wouldn't read it again soon but maybe in the future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the story could be interesting if not impossible, the incorrect grammar put me off.
Trinity on LibraryThing 7 hours ago
This book began a little slow for me but quickly picked up after the first 50-75 pages. I read this book while on vacation in Las Vegas and I was so enthralled that I kept thinking I wished I could go read instead of seeing the sites! I especially liked reading about the Jewish experience in Tudor England and Europe. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes hitorical novels.
aapjebaapje on LibraryThing 7 hours ago
Fast moving and interesting. Philippa really knows her history well and brings it to life without you noticing the erudition. Knowing the history yourself makes you appreciate her characterisation - her story telling makes sense of the bare facts.
varwenea on LibraryThing 7 hours ago
The Queen¿s Fool¿ Hmm, for quite a ways into the book, I was starting to feel like the fool myself for spending the time to read the book¿Relatively slow in getting absorbed by the story, and befuddled by the heroine, Hannah¿s, obsession with Lord Robert (really? as simple as a young girl drawn by a handsome, dashing man), I finally got into the rhythm of the story much later, as I started to appreciate Hannah¿s utter sense of loyalty, duty, and allegiance, especially to Queen Mary, and to a lesser degree (at least to me), to Princess Elizabeth. Her loyalty to her own values, her love affair with books, knowledge, being a genuinely intelligent young woman speaking multiple languages (Spanish, English, French, Hebrew) and reading Greek and Latin, and perceptively learning the ways of the court made her a person that you want to meet in real life. My two key likes. A) The book made me re-look up the British Monarch history. (The books¿ general history was mostly accurate.)B) Gaining some insights to the plight of the Jews in that era, noted as 1552 to 1558, hiding and concealing not just their faith, but also the associated customs, language, and knowledge. The relationship amongst the Jews, how they helped each other remain concealed throughout Europe, had a flavor of the Underground Railroad.Ultimately, other than a perspective of history via the eyes of an intelligent young lady, this book did not offer substantial substance to me. Perhaps it was not meant to be either. This book was not so creatively written that entertained my typical desire for learning new ways to manipulate words. Here are just a few quotes, partly for its content and partly for the charm of the sentence(s). ¿Elizabeth was always such a mixture of raging emotion and calculation that I could rarely take her measure.¿¿Books were my brothers and sisters; I could not turn against them now. I could not become one of those that see something they cannot understand, and destroy it.¿¿And so I would rather not spur your wife¿s irritation into rage if you are going to blow in and out again like a spring wind that spoils the peace of the orchard.¿
deequa on LibraryThing 7 hours ago
great historical fiction author, I 've enjoyed everything I've read by her.
bolgai on LibraryThing 7 hours ago
Hannah Green is no ordinary 14 year old. She and her father are Jews escaping from the Spanish Inquisition and looking for a better life in England and she has the gift of Sight, which allows her to predict the future. A chance encounter with Robert Dudley, a noble at the court of King Edward, takes her from her father's humble print shop to the royal palace where she becomes the Holy Fool, a trusted companion of the Tudor queen and a spy for the Dudleys. Torn between her obligations at court and her family and heritage Hannah will become a woman like no other in the tumultuous years when the Tudor offspring fought for the throne. This is the second book I've read by Philippa Gregory and the first one was so long ago that I've all but forgotten how enjoyable her books are. So enjoyable, in fact, that I didn't want this story to end and stretched out reading it as much as I could. There is a very clear evolution of the main character from a girl who is afraid of her own shadow into a young woman who knows her own mind and can act decisively on a moment's notice. Hannah's fear of being discovered for who she really was at a time when being a Jew was most dangerous is almost palpable. The circumstances have made her into a habitual liar and it is easy to understand the cynicism of this young girl - she's seen the wind change so many times that she very clearly understand that more often than not what the right answer is depends on who is asking the questions and she has grown bitter at her heritage for preventing her from having a peaceful life. It was heartening however to see her lose neither the sight of who she was nor her appreciation of the people around her for what they brought to the table as her fear became less paralyzing.One of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction so much is that it gives us a glimpse of what happened decades and centuries before our time in a voice very different from the dull monotone of history books. If the author has done her homework and unless she takes serious liberties with the course of history we get a very good ideas of the events that took place and the people involved. Gregory's mastery is revealed in the fact that I trust every word she writes. I can't help but believe that Mary, Elizabeth, the Dudleys, the Carpenters and the rest really were exactly the way Gregory portrays them and that it couldn't be any other way. It was also very interesting to gain the insight into not only the English court but also the clandestine Jewish community of XVI century Europe. Persecuted by both Catholics and Protestants, forced to hide who they were no matter where they went but not giving up on their heritage and their faith these people showed true courage and resilience in the face of the threat of death at every turn.There were only two things that I didn't like about the book. One has to do with the plot and to stay true to my "no spoilers" policy I won't go into details. I will only say that what happened seemed unfair and that there was a double standard when actions of characters were evaluated. Another has to do with character development, so here I will elaborate. At one point Hannah talks about how the cattiness at court prepared her to deal with the relationships outside of it and the problem was that we didn't see any of her interaction with any courtiers besides the Dudleys and Will Sommers, the other royal Fool, and there was no animosity there. As soon as I read this little bit I knew that there was no support for it anywhere else in the narrative and while it made sense that courtiers competing for position were no angels it still jarred me out of the story. These two things are by no means deal breakers and The Queen's Fool put Philippa Gregory on my list of authors to follow and I would recommend her books without reservation to any fan of historical fiction or anyone who wants to "test-drive" the genre.
Den282 on LibraryThing 7 hours ago
I was surprised that many of the reviews on this site were not very favourable and almost didn't read this book, but I'm slowly making my way through the Philippa Gregory books and thought I would give this a try. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. I liked Hanna, the main character, right from the start and found her story very intriguing and interesting. Although a fictional story, there are elements of history in this novel and it was interesting and fun to read about the English monarchy in those times. A fun, enjoyable read.
CheriePie69 on LibraryThing 7 hours ago
Wow, another great book by Philippa Gregory! I thought this was just about as good as The Other Boleyn Girl. Once I finished it, I immediately went and added the sequel, The Virgin’s Lover, to my wish list as I’m really looking forward to the story of Elizabeth. Both her and Robert Dudley were my favorite characters in this book, and they’re the primary characters in the next book. :) Just like in The Other Boleyn girl, Gregory takes historical fact and weaves a tale around it. There’s a few main characters in this book, with Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, being the main character of historical significance. She’s sometimes remembered as “Bloody Mary” because of all the supposed heretics she had burned at the stake. This story is told from the point of view of Hannah the Fool, the daughter of a Jewish bookseller who escaped persecution with her father from Spain to England after her mother was burned as a heretic. I believe Hannah’s character is completely fictional, but her story is interesting nonetheless. She’s got the gift of a Seer, and as the Queen’s Fool, she dresses in breeches, and doesn’t really have to mind what she says as most women would… she’s “a fool” after all. Her loyalties are continually tested as she’s a trusted companion to Queen Mary, as well as her half-sister, the Princess Elizabeth, and Robert Dudley, both of whom are later imprisoned and charged with treason in a plot to strip Queen Mary from the throne. Hannah moves among these groups and they all trust her; many times she doesn’t even realize the plots she’s actually involved in as she’s asked to bring some cryptic message from one to another. She tries to speak only the truth and often the Sight compels her to do so. Had the Queen listened to Hannah before agreeing to marry Prince Philip of Spain, she may have been saved a lot of heartache, and what eventually became her undoing.