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The Other Queen Paperback – July 14, 2009
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"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
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
I just couldn't even read this one, which is extremely rare for me.Published 22 hours ago by Lavone
I count Phillippa Gregory as one of my favorite writers of historical fiction however I found this book a trifle too repetitive. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Jacqueline E. Burt
This author never diappoints. First person somewhat unusual, but effetive. Definitely worth reading, especially for fans of this historical era.Published 9 days ago by Carlene
I usually love PhilippaGregory's books and have probably read most of them. This one was rather boring and I found myself skimming through the pages which I never do. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Cindy716
I enjoyed the dialogue provided by Bess, Queen Mary and George. It was most engaging.
My only criticism was that the conclusion was reached very quickly, almost as if there... Read more
I always like historical fiction that addresses issues relevant to modern times. I would have preferred that Ms. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kim
Very interesting if you are interested in the Tudor era. I really enjoy her writing. Makes me feel like I am there.Published 1 month ago by Ginger