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The Queen's Fool: A Novel (Boleyn) Paperback – February 4, 2004

Book 26 of 52 in the Saint Series

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Philppa Gregory: '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-lattered dining. She invokes some swoonsome images...while the politics are personal enough to remain pertinent.' DailyTelegraph 'Subtle and exciting.' Daily Express '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

About 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,

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Product Details

  • Series: Boleyn
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Later Printing edition (February 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743246071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743246071
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (390 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,533 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 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.

Customer Reviews

It's the kind of book that you just want to keep reading to find out what happens next.
Anyone with some curiosity about the Tudor queens Mary and Elizabeth will find the story of "fool" Hannah Green to make for riveting reading.
I found this book to be a very fantastic read and really enjoyed the story, the characters, and the excitement of it all.
Kindle Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

218 of 236 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 8, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This best selling English author of historical fiction has written yet another interesting work. This novel takes place during the reign of Mary Tudor, daughter of King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. She would leave a legacy that would cause her to be known as "Bloody Mary" for her burning of heretics.
The narrator is a girl named Hannah Green, a young teenager who has fled Spain and its Inquisition with her father, following the death of her mother. She had been burned alive at the stake as a heretic, when it was discovered that she was a "Marrano", a false Christian, that is, a Jew who has converted to Christianity but who follows the Jewish faith in secret.
Landing in London, where her father opens a book store, Hannah makes the acquaintance of a handsome rake, Sir Robert Dudley, who discovers that Hannah has the gift of sight. She develops a personal relationship with him that eventually sees her enter into Queen Mary's service as her fool. Hannah serves Queen Mary, but at the same time, is sent by the Queen to serve her half-sister the Princess Elizabeth and spy upon her.
Meanwhile, Sir Robert Dudley also uses Hannah in his treasonous plot to see the Princess Elizabeth on the throne of England. So, Hannah finds herself walking a dangerous tightrope and is fearful of discovery of her role in the political intrigues that are welling around her, as well as discovery of her own background, which would be grounds for death. Her worst fears are nearly realized when the Queen marries Prince Phillip of Spain.
In the midst of all this political intriguing that appears to be going on all around her, Hannah has her own immediate future to think about, as she becomes betrothed to another Marrano such as herself.
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113 of 120 people found the following review helpful By lisebouvier on March 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
Phillipa Gregory does a wonderful job of recreating a historical period, and I did enjoy her other Tudor work, The Other Boleyn Girl. I expected to enjoy this one as much, but couldn't.
I found the indiscriminately sympathetic portrayal of Mary (known to history as Bloody Mary) troubling. The author seemed to think that because Mary was a wronged wife, her excesses were excusable. Even more disturbing, and harder to swallow, is that the main character, Hannah, a secret Jew who lives in fear of being burned as heretic, remains loyal and uncritical of Mary until the end.
Either Hannah is an insensitive hypocrite, indifferent to the suffering of others because of her own safety as a royal favorite, or she is a poorly drawn character. It is hard to believe someone whose own mother was burned at the stake could remain loyal to a woman who sent so many to be burned alive.
Gregory blames Mary's ministers, pretending Mary was largely unaware of what was being done. A ruler with Mary's absolute power "unaware"? That makes her either a disconnected, incompetent ruler (not Gregory's view), or one so weak she was completely dominated by her ministers, which there is no reason to believe.
Gregory did succeed in showing how sad Mary's life was in many ways: Early separation from her mother due to her father's selfish whims, loss of her position, a youth spent in a kind of exile, an unfaithful husband.
However, I also saw her parents' flaws in her: obsessive attachment to a indifferent man, fanaticism and sense of absolute truth which both parents possessed, and worse, a ruthlessness and cruelty in enforcing her will inherited from her father.
"Bloody Mary" traumatized her country and was, ironically, probably one of the reasons England turned staunchly Protestant.
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97 of 105 people found the following review helpful By K. McDermott on February 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Philippa Gregory is one of the best historical novelists writing today, and she's at the top of her game with this book. As in the Meridon trilogy and "Wise Woman," she infuses her historical romance with a touch of mysticism. She takes the daring approach here of making Mary the sympathetic Tudor and Elizabeth the nasty one, and creates a most likeable heroine in Hannah Green, a Jewish clairvoyant in boy's garb who is a nice mixture of audacity and empathy. It sounds far-fetched, but Gregory pulls you in with believable (though not exactly period) dialogue, discreet sex, and fast-paced adventure. Hannah's emotions and reactions are always realistic, and neatly woven into the fantastically convoluted events of 1552-58. She lets "Bloody Mary" off a bit too easily regarding the burning of Protestant heretics (though of course, real life punished Mary badly enough), and makes Robert Dudley seem more of a matinee idol and less the calculating courtier that he was, but then this story is told from the point of view of an adolescent girl, so it's not really a flaw. There are many hints of a sequel in the novel, so I'm looking forward to her next revisionist take on the legendary Tudor women. I just hope we'll see more of Hannah Green, too.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on February 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
Philippa Gregory (authour of "The Other Boleyn Girl") returns to turbulent Tudor England in her latest novel, "The Queen's Fool." This time, our narrator-guide is a young Jewish girl, Hannah Green, who together with her father, has fled Spain and the Inquisition, for England. Here, they have taken great pains to live quietly and to show that they are fervent Lutherans, all the while practicing their faith in secret. That is until a chance encounter with the mysterious John Dee changes the course of their lives forever.
Hannah and her father have opened a bookshop, where Hannah (unlike most girls of her age) has been working at dressed as a boy and acting as her father's apprentice. One day, however, young Robert Dudley and his tutor, John Dee, come to the shop; and in the course of things, discover that Hannah has the 'sight.' Suddenly Hannah's future changes dramatically: where marriage to a distant cousin seemed to have been her fate, she's now dragooned into the service of the Dudleys, who plan to use her 'sight' for their own means. And soon Hannah finds herself torn on all sides -- strangely drawn to her new master, Robert Dudley and yet missing her father dreadfully; and not wanting to be confined to playing the role of mere wife and mother, and yet not wanting to close the door on that option either. Hannah is confused and fearful about her future. But not even in her wildest dreams would she envision the part she would play in the fortunes of the Tudors...
I made the mistake of picking up this book just before going to sleep. Such was the sheer brilliance of "The Queens' Fool" that I had to finish the book in one sitting. What a compelling and engrossing read this novel proved to be! And what a heroine Gergory has created in Hannah!
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