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

Book 6 of 6 in the Tudors Series

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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: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 Philppa Gregory: 'Written from instinct, not out of calculation, and it shows.' Peter Ackroyd, The Times 'For sheer pace and percussive drama it will take a lot of beating.' Sunday Times 'Gregory is great at conjuring a Tudor film-set of gorgeous gowns and golden-lattered dining. She invokes some swoonsome images...while the politics are personal enough to remain pertinent.' DailyTelegraph 'The contemporary mistress of historical crime fiction is Philippa Gregory. 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

Customer Reviews

Every night I would pick up this book and think, "if I can just read 10 more pages."
Amazon Customer
The characters were wonderful and very interesting, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in English history, or historical fiction.
I can't really say too much about what he does or I will spoil it for you, but by the end of the book I realized I didn't like him either.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

171 of 177 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 16, 2008
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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72 of 72 people found the following review helpful By ILizbeth on September 18, 2008
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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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Julie Merilatt VINE VOICE on September 20, 2008
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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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 world wide bestseller. On its publication, she became a full-time writer, and now lives with her family on a small farm in the North of England.

Her knowledge of gothic 18th century novels led to Philippa writing Wideacre, which 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 - one of the many instances of Philippa's work appealing to very different readers.

The trilogy was followed by The Wise Woman, a dazzling, disturbing novel of dark powers and desires set against the rich tapestry of the Reformation, and by 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 produced a haunting novel of slave trading and its terrible human cost. This is the only modern novel to explore the tragedies of slavery in England itself, and features a group of kidnapped African people trying to find their freedom in the elegant houses of 18th century Clifton. 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 two of Gregory's best-loved novels, Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth, based on the true-life story of father and son 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 painstaking research and passionate verve.

The flowering of this new style was undoubtedly The Other Boleyn Girl, a runaway best-seller which stormed the US market and then went worldwide telling the story of the little-known sister to Anne Boleyn. Now published in 26 countries with more than a million copies in print in the US alone, this is becoming a classic historical novel, winning 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 a film is now in production starring Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Eric Bana as Henry VIII.

A regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, with short stories, features and reviews, Philippa is also a frequent broadcaster and a regular contestant on Round Britain Quiz for BBC Radio 4 and the Tudor expert for Channel 4's Time Team.

She lives in the North of England with her husband and two children 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. Fifty-six wells have been built by UK donors to date.

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