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The Other Queen Paperback – July 14, 2009

3.4 out of 5 stars 332 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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Mary's hell-bent assuredness combines deliciously with brisk chapt ers and rich historical detail. Indulge." -- People

"A mesmerizing novel that will keep readers turning pages deep into the night...as sweet and thorny as a wild English rose." -- BookPage

"Mary's hell-bent assuredness...combines deliciously with brisk chapters and rich historical detail. Indulge." -- People

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (July 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416549145
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416549147
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (332 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Julia Flyte TOP 1000 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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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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