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The Other Queen review

April 20, 2009

From the Publisher:26708836

Two women competing for a man’s heart
Two queens fighting to the death for dominance
The untold story of Mary, Queen of Scots

This dazzling novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents a new and unique view of one of history’s most intriguing, romantic, and maddening heroines. Biographers often neglect the captive years of Mary, Queen of Scots, who trusted Queen Elizabeth’s promise of sanctuary when she fled from rebels in Scotland and then found herself imprisoned as the “guest” of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick.

The newly married couple welcome the doomed queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court. To their horror, they find that the task will bankrupt them, and as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Elizabeth, their loyalty to each other and to their sovereign comes into question. If Mary succeeds in seducing the earl into her own web of treachery and treason, or if the great spymaster William Cecil links them to the growing conspiracy to free Mary from her illegal imprisonment, they will all face the headsman.

Philippa Gregory uses new research and her passion for historical accuracy to place a well-known heroine in a completely new tale full of suspense, passion, and political intrigue. For years, readers have clamored for Gregory to tell Mary’s story, and The Other Queen is the result of her determination to present a novel worthy of this extraordinary heroine.

Review and Grade: C

I wasn’t all that disappointed by this book, mostly because my expectations were not too too high. I enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl but I didn’t love it the way most people seemed to. Even so, I couldn’t even manage to really enjoy The Other Queen like I wanted to. I felt like nothing was propelling the story forward. I was not particularly attached to any of the characters, the plot itself just wound in circles without clearly going anywhere and then instead of climaxing, it stopped abruptly. I wasn’t sucked into their world the way I was with The Other Boleyn Girl, which is incredibly important when writing historical fiction about famous people: we already know how it ends.
The great part of the book is that she gives a new perspective on these well-known historic characters, but I didn’t remember enough about Queen Mary and I knew nothing about Bess, so it didn’t have the same power for me. Philippa Gregory is a character author even more than she is a historical writer. The detail is incredible and it is evident she did her research. I even got the feeling that she enjoyed researching and writing this book, however, she didn’t manage to suck me in.
Even so, it was an easy read as long as I made myself keep going back to it. I could have finished it so much sooner if I hadn’t put it down because I didn’t go back once I did.
My advice is not to skip this book, but to review what history has said about Queen Mary, and even Bess, and I have a feeling that then the characters will really come to life.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2009 3:05 pm

    I loved The Other Boleyn Girl, but found all the other books in the series to be disappointing. It’s such a shame, as I’m now put off reading all other Philippa Gregory books. As you say she does great research, but it isn’t enough if the characters don’t pull you in.

    • April 20, 2009 9:12 pm

      I agree, it’s such a shame, but you can’t force yourself to enjoy a book or an author. It just doesn’t work, as much as you want it to.

  2. April 21, 2009 11:56 am

    I own this book but haven’t cracked it open yet because I’ve read so many reviews from disappointed fans.

  3. April 21, 2009 1:29 pm

    Bummer. I love the Other Boleyn Girl, but I haven’t read any of her other books. Now I’m just not sure. Several people have expressed disappointment.

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