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The Other Queen: A Novel (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 16, 2008
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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
"Mary's hell-bent assuredness combines deliciously with brisk chapt ers and rich historical detail. Indulge." -- "People"
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*Full disclosure: I could not go past the halfway point.*
I think writing this book from 3 different first person perspectives gave an interesting view of the time period. Three different people have three very different views of the same event. I found myself constantly thrown for a loop by Mary. She never thought twice about lying and it was interesting to see how she would portray an event to others, and then how she actually thought of the same event.
Bess is one of the best historical fiction characters I've read in a long time. From Gregory's book, as well as the researching I did on my own, I've come to really love her strength and determination. She was a smart business woman and used that to her advantage. She worked her way up and earned the things she had, even if it was through marriage, and worked hard to keep herself safe and secure for the future. I think more women in books should be like her.
Yet again, Gregory has me thinking about the little things in history and how one simple decision can change the fate of a country, and the world. While not my favorite book (The Queen's Fool has that title), it was a great read and sheds more light onto the Tudor era of history.
The book is about Mary Queen of Scots exile and imprisonment from the throne. Written in three voices -- Mary, Shrewsbury, and his wife Bess, the latter tasked with housing her.
I had just finished the 5th book in this Tudor series and Cecil was the redeeming character. Therefore it was incredibly difficult to slam on the brakes and read of a nasty, scheming Cecil ten years later.
I was thoroughly disgusted with Bess, whose "I am an independent woman" shtick grated on my last nerve. Queen Mary is just delusional, and Shrewsbury loses pretty much all regard by the end, and I felt sorry for him.
I was deeply disappointed by the ending. Anyone with history behind them knows the Scots queen was beheaded, yet for some inexplicable reason, Gregory chose to cover the entire POINT of the book in a dream sequence of Shrewsbury and the loathsome gloating of Bess. After committing myself to a long, drawn out account of the Queen avoiding The Tower, why didn't the author at the minimum give Mary a final voice?
Not the best. I feel like I wasted my time and bought a different book about this instead.