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The Other Queen: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 16, 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 309 customer reviews
Book 6 of 6 in the Tudors Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Using the multiple-viewpoint technique that worked well in The Boleyn Inheritance (2006), Gregory fictionalizes a little-explored episode in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1568, after fleeing rebellious Scottish lords, Mary is placed into the custody of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife, Bess of Hardwick. This turns their Derbyshire estate into a hotbed of intrigue and possible treason. George, normally loyal to a fault, falls in love with Mary; Bess secretly reports to William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, while fretting about her foolish husband and the continual draining of their funds; Mary plays them against one another while plotting to escape, with Cecil noting her every move. Gregory skillfully evokes the suspenseful atmosphere—it was never certain that the 1569 Rising of the North in favor of Catholic Mary would fail—but the protagonists’ inner thoughts, as presented in short alternating chapters, are unnecessarily repetitive. Although this isn’t her best work, Gregory’s writing is sharpest toward the end, as the unavoidable consequences of Mary’s long imprisonment are finally felt by all. --Sarah Johnson


Praise for 'The Boleyn Inheritance': 'Philippa Gregory truly is the mistress of the historical novel!It would be hard to make history more entertaining, lively or engaging: the characters truly come alive!This is a reliably breathtaking, suspenseful and imaginative romp from Gregory. Full of all the colours, sights and sounds of the Tudor court, it really transports you to the era. A winning formula.' Sunday Express 'This is historical fiction at its best' Bella 'A thrilling romantic history' Eve 'A fascinating insight into court life!Highly readable and thoroughly enjoyable and no-one writes popular history as well as Philippa Gregory' Daily Express 'Philippa Gregory brings the turbulent Tudors to glorious life!Delicious' Times Praise for 'The Constant Princess': 'One of Gregory's great strengths as a novelist is her ability to take familiar historical figures and flesh them into living breathing human beings. "The Constant Princess" is a worthy successor to her previous novels about the Tudors and deserves to be a bestseller.' Daily Express 'Gregory's research is impeccable which makes her imaginative fiction all the more convincing.' Daily Mail 'Gregory is great at conjuring a Tudor film-set of gorgeous gowns and golden-plattered dining.' Telegraph 'The contemporary mistress of historical crime. Her novels are filled with strong, determined women who take their fate into their own hands!Gregory brings to life the sights, smells and textures of 16th-century England.' Kate Mosse, Financial Times 'The Virgin's Lover': 'A book to lose yourself in!a simmering mixture of intrigue, lust and betrayal at the court of Elizabeth I, it breathes new life into the suspected love affair between the young queen and Robert Dudley.' Daily Mail 'Convincing and entertaining'. Daily Telegraph 'A fascinating new take on a story we thought we knew.' Eve 'History has a sexy makeover in an erotic account of Elizabeth l's relationship with the married and tantalisingly unavailable Robert Dudley.' Glamour, Books of the Year 'Gregory's success lies in restoring humanity to her historical figures.' Daily Mail 'Gregory vivdly portrays court life -- all the political intrigue, divided loyalties, love and betrayal.' Woman and Home 'Queen of the historical novel.' Mail on Sunday 'The Other Boleyn Girl': 'It is a credit to Gregory that she is able to sustain interest in an epic-length tale when the ending is one of the most well-known moments in English history. The very believable dialogue and detail take you all the way into the claustrophobic privy chambers of the royal palaces!Gregory has launched herself into a popular period and produced something with that most underrated of virtues: readability.' The Times 'This is an intelligent variation on a familiar tale [with] witty use of metaphor.' Time Literary Supplement 'This compulsively readable novel is a wonderful account of the Tudor court!This is the finest historical novel of this year.' Daily Mail 'The Queen's Fool': 'Totally absorbing!this is a triumphant piece of storytelling, not least because Gregory manages to make familiar events fresh and unloved people fascinating.' Gay Times 'Gregory offers a subtle examination of the tension between profound personal faith and the dangers of imposing that faith on others.' Jewish Quarterly 'It combines history and invention in gripping and memorable style.' Red 'Historical fiction at its most masterly. Meticulously researched and realised and with an engaging and totally convincing heroine, "The Queen's Fool" invites readers to rethink their opinions of both 'Bloody' Mary and the 'Virgin' Queen. Superbly plotted, exquisitely written with the enviable capacity to simultaneously thrill and provoke thought, this novel is even more 'unputdownable' than "The Other Boleyn Girl."' Historical Novels Review 'Gregory serves up some more deliciously sombre moments from a factious Tudor court.' Independent 'Gregory's dramatic, plot-driven novel is thoroughly readable.' Sunday Herald

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1 edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416549129
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416549123
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Kenya in 1954, Philippa Gregory moved to England with her family and was educated in Bristol and at the National Council for the Training of Journalists course in Cardiff. She worked as a senior reporter on the Portsmouth News, and as a journalist and producer for BBC Radio.

Philippa obtained a BA degree in History at the University of Sussex in Brighton and a PhD at Edinburgh University in 18th-century literature. Her first novel, Wideacre, was written as she completed her PhD and became an instant worldwide bestseller. On its publication, she became a full-time writer.

Wideacre was followed by a haunting sequel, The Favoured Child, and the delightful happy ending of the trilogy: Meridon. This novel was listed in Feminist Book Fortnight and for the Romantic Novel of the Year at the same time.

Her next book was The Wise Woman, a dazzling, disturbing novel of dark powers and desires set against the rich tapestry of the Reformation. Then came Fallen Skies, an evocative realistic story set after the First World War. Her novel A Respectable Trade took her back to the 18th century where her knowledge of the slave trade and her home town of Bristol explored the human cost of slavery. Gregory adapted her book for a highly acclaimed BBC television production which won the prize for drama from the Commission for Racial Equality and was shortlisted for a BAFTA for the screenplay.

Next came Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth, based on the true-life story of father and son both named John Tradescant working in the upheaval of the English Civil War. In these works Gregory pioneered the genre which has become her own: fictional biography, the true story of a real person brought to life with research and verve.

The jewel in the crown of this new style was undoubtedly The Other Boleyn Girl, a runaway bestseller which stormed the US market and then went worldwide telling the story of the little-known sister to Anne Boleyn. Now published globally, this classic historical novel won the Parker Pen Novel of the Year award 2002 and the Romantic Times fictional biography award. The Other Boleyn Girl was adapted for the BBC as a single television drama and by Sony as a major motion picture starring Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Eric Bana as Henry VIII.

After adding five more novels to her Tudor Court series including The Constant Princess and The Queen's Fool, two of her best-loved works, Philippa moved back in time to write about the family that preceded the Tudors, the Plantagenets. Her bestselling six-book Cousins' War series tells the story of the bloody struggle for the throne in the Wars of the Roses from the perspective of the women behind the scenes. The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter were adapted by the BBC and Starz in 2013 as the hugely popular TV miniseries The White Queen.

Having completed The Cousins' War series with The King's Curse, Philippa has come full circle back to the Tudor court. Her latest novel is about Kateryn Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII: The Taming of the Queen. Her other work in progress is the young adult series The Order of Darkness, set in medieval Italy after the fall of Constantinople, feared at the time to be a sign of the end of the world.

A regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, with short stories, features and reviews, Philippa is also a frequent broadcaster, a regular contestant on Round Britain Quiz for BBC Radio 4 and the Tudor expert for Channel 4's Time Team. As well as her extensive array of historical novels she has written modern novels, children's books, a collection of short stories, and a non-fiction book with David Baldwin and Michael Jones: The Women of the Cousins' War.

She lives in the North of England with her family and in addition to interests that include riding, walking, skiing and gardening (an interest born from research into the Tradescant family for her novel Virgin Earth) she also runs a small charity building wells in school gardens in The Gambia.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"The Other Queen" is about Mary, Queen of Scots' imprisonment in England, focusing on the early years of her imprisonment. Like "The Boleyn Inheritance", the story alternates between three perspectives. The narrators are George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife, Bess of Hardwick who were charged with responsibility for the Queen; the third narrator is Mary, Queen of Scots. Bess is an ambitious social climber who initially thinks that hosting Queen Mary will be a way to advance the family fortunes, but who is dismayed to find that it drains their financial resources instead. George on the other hand becomes infatuated with the Queen, which causes irreparable friction in his own marriage.

I've enjoyed other books by Philippa Gregory, but The Other Queen lacks momentum. It's a long book and not a lot happens (and when things do happen, they're invariably taking place somewhere else, rather than happening to the characters who are telling the story). You get the feeling that most of the exciting parts of Mary's life have already taken place, so there is lots of time spent filling in her back story. I enjoyed the book in a mild way, but it felt so repetitive: countless variations on Bess complaining about money, George idealizing Mary and Mary telling us how charming she is. Bess was actually quite a remarkable woman for her time, but she comes across as being so unpleasant that she failed to elicit my sympathy. I was also disappointed that Elizabeth I barely appears - only in one short scene, when Talbot goes to London to meet with her.

As always, Philippa Gregory has done her research. I didn't necessarily agree with her interpretation of Mary's personality, but I couldn't fault it on historical grounds.
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Format: Hardcover
First the good points about this books.

1. This is Philippa Gregory, so you know that the writing will be well done and the research thorough
2. Very interesting take on the relationship between Mary, Queen of Scots and her husband Bothwell

Now the bad points:

1. As others have noted, practically nothing happens in this book. It drags
2. Most of the action happened in the past and is being retold
3. Unlike TOBG which had snappy dialogue that made you keep turning the pages, this feels like one long monologue told by several different people all droning on and on

All in all, three stars.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1568, Mary Queen of Scots sought refuge in England. She has trusted Elizabeth I's promise of sanctuary only to find herself imprisoned on Elizabeth's behalf by George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife Bess of Hardwick.

Ms Gregory has taken the familiar story of the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots in England and presented the viewpoints of those obliged by Queen Elizabeth to act as her gaolers. The impact on the Shrewsburys should not be underestimated: keeping Mary Queen of Scots captive was not without its costs (both monetary and political). While Mary herself lived, she was both wittingly and unwittingly a focal point for political and religious intrigue.

In terms of the main characters in the novel, Mary herself comes across as manipulative and naive. Bess of Hardwick is far more interesting than her husband George, while Elizabeth herself is torn between removing the threat to her throne and herself and a reluctance to execute a fellow monarch. Ms Gregory presents an intriguing, if not always exciting, picture of a number of people thrown together by fate. This particular version of the story, focussed as it is on Mary's long period of imprisonment, not likely to bring much joy to those who prefer to see more action or a more sympathetic depiction of Mary. I enjoyed the novel without being fully swept up by it.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Format: Hardcover
Gregory has again capitalized on her popularity as a historical fiction writer, specifically on the topic of the Tudors. While The Other Queen takes place during Elizabeth's reign, the focus of this book is on the tragic figure of Mary Queen of Scots and her "jailers," George Talbot and his wife, Bess of Hardwick. The narrative changes voices between the three of them, and each gives their perspective during this tumultuous time in English history.

Bess declares herself over and over again as a self-made woman who has constantly risen in title and wealth through four marriages and her own determination. When first asked to host Mary, she feels honored and is sure she will be greatly rewarded and highly praised. But the cost of housing Mary and her huge entourage quickly takes a toll on her, her fortunes, and her relationship with her husband. George is immediately besotted with his guest and is easily manipulated by the queen. While he sympathizes with Mary, he is a staunch loyalist to the crown and repeatedly declares that he must always be honorable in his duty to Queen Elizabeth. However, his devotion and infatuation with Mary costs him his reputation, not to mention his fortune.

Mary is portrayed as scheming and calculating. She constantly emphasizes her royalty and infallibility as God's anointed queen and stresses her desire to be free. She is confident that Elizabeth would never have the audacity to execute her; she who is the queen of Scotland, the queen consort of France, and heir to the English throne. She believes so strongly that she is entitled to be in Elizabeth's place that she feels no remorse in her plotting to dethrone her cousin. She has no qualms about using her charm and sexuality to influence men to conspire against Elizabeth.
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