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The Other Queen: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 16, 2008
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More About the Author
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good read, a bit slow now and then but ok.. Would recommend, however not one of Ms Gregory's best!
Pretty good historical novel. I enjoyed reading it. Was narrated by the couple who were in charge of protecting Mary, Queen of Scots, and by Mary, herself, so it presented... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
If you have never read one of Philippa Gregory's books, you need to get started....Published 28 days ago by Thora Goodnight
I have always been intrigued by the story of Mary Queen of Scots but very little is written about her imprisonment in England. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Starre Burkhardt
wonderful reading, philippa gregory never fails, thank you.Published 2 months ago by sandra vinding
Another great work from Philippa Gregory! Having read up on the subject, I have to say that there were no surprises, but, as always, Gregory's writing is well-done and enjoyable... Read morePublished 3 months ago by JMS
I always enjoy Philippa Gregory's novels and have read almost everything she has written about the Tudors and the Plantagenets. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jewelry Lover