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Queen's Own Fool (Stuart Quartet, #1)
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Queen's Own Fool (Stuart Quartet #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  2,210 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
Called La Jardiniere, a resourceful and clever jester to the queen's court, Nicola was a most unlikely person to end up "fool" and friend to Mary, Queen of Scots. But Nicola isn't an ordinary comedian clowning before the court; her sharp tongue is rare amongst the fawning nobles. As fate takes Mary from France to Scotland, and into confrontations with rebellious lords and ...more
Paperback, 390 pages
Published November 12th 2001 by Puffin Books (first published May 22nd 2000)
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Oct 19, 2015 Laurie rated it it was amazing
“Queen’s Own Fool” is Nicola, who is given the nickname ‘La Jardiniere’. La Jardinaiere was real, although we know almost nothing about her. Yolan and Harris have used her as a lens to view the life of Mary Stuart, the Queen of France and of Scotland.

Mary, at the time Queen of France, buys orphaned Nicola from her uncle’s entertainment troop when she is a girl. Nicola is witty and, more important, honest. Mary values honesty above all- she hears so little of it at court- and relies on Nicola to
Sep 02, 2008 MichelleCH rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-history
I very much enjoyed how this story unwound surrounding the life of Queen Mary of Scots. It also gave a unique perspective as it was written from the viewpoint of the Queen's fool, Nicola, also known as La Jardiniere. The author kept the tone light which made it enjoyable and entertaining. It was also a quick read and I had a hard time putting it down.
Aug 02, 2009 Summer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: young adult and adult
Jane Yolen has a talent that is unfortunatly left to be undiscovered, sitting lonely on the bookshelf to gather dust. In her Scotland based quarted Jane Yolen writes witht the help of Robert J. Harris, a historian. She tells the tales of the commoners and their strugles to survive through an age in which the rules didn't always apply.
In the Queen's Own Fool, a young girl in a traveling troupe apeals to the queen of France, Mary Queen of Scots. Mary is married to the young and frail king of Fra
Apr 08, 2012 Isabelle rated it really liked it
Well, I loved this book. Nothing more to it. I even stole my middle school teacher's copy, just because I loved it.

Reason? Well...

-The narrator has a voice, and a very strong one at that. She runs away from a bad life with her uncle and siblings of her own accord. That's gutsy, as are her antics. I liked that.
-A lot of interesting things happen, but it wasn't so action-packed that I never had a moment to breathe. See, there were a lot of small details to ponder and let me feed off of without Yol
So for a YA book about Mary Queen of Scots, I suppose this is good. However, there is one huge problem.

Here's the problem. In movie trailer format.

Watch Nicola escape her evil uncle!

Thrill to Nicola's escape from her evil governess!

Discover Nicola's amazing ability to foresee the future!

Gasp as Nicola saves the Queen who should list to her fool!

Soundtrack availbe now, including the hit song, "The Perfect Mary Sue".

In other words, it would be a much better story if Nicola didn't seem to have 20/2
Paula Soper
May 16, 2016 Paula Soper rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 2016
Jane Yolen and Mary, Queen of Scots? Who WOULDN'T want to read this? As expected, the book was a smooth read with fabulously researched history.

I'm not sure if I believe this is a YA novel. Sure, it doesn't have particularly large vocabulary, and the fool is a teenager, but I think that only a fanatic (teenage) anglophile would be able to make it through. I'm glad I read it, but I don't know anyone to share it with (right now).

Drugs - Alcohol (obvs)
Sex - Mary marries 3 times
R&R - Hi
Feb 11, 2009 Rachel rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book and read it in three days, with my usual amount of schoolwork is amazing. Anyways, the story is about Nicola a half French/half Italian tumbler who becomes Mary Queen of Scots' fool or jester. The book covers their adventures together from when Mary is the young queen of France, on to actually becoming the Queen of Scots, till she surrenders herself to Elizabeth I. I loved the detailed nature of the book and the in-depth history.
Jun 25, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it
Jane Yolen is impressive in her breadth of children's literature, from baby to teen. This particular novel for young adults is an easily read historical fiction of Mary Queen of Scots. Intrigue, medieval life, and really, really bad choices in husbands.
Nov 27, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-ya
This is the first book in The Stuart Quartet written collaboratively with Robert J. Harris, Scottish author and historian. I know little to nothing about Mary Queen of Scots so this was an interesting overview of her largely unhappy life from the point of view of her young fool, Nicola Ambruzzi. Nicola apparently existed as the Queen's own fool but little is know about her so Yolen and Harris weave a fictional accounting of her life to tell the true story of Mary Queen of Scots. This is a sympat ...more
Jul 06, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
I read this book many many years ago and remembered loving it. Recently, I started indulging in a guilty pleasure - The CW's Reign and once I binged watched the two seasons over a few weeks, I had to get more of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots(and preferably, something a little more historically accurate).

I read a lot of Jane Yolen's work when I was younger, and I am so glad that her writing still holds its charm for me, years later. What I like about this telling is that it would have been so
Cynthia Moreno
Jul 21, 2015 Cynthia Moreno rated it it was amazing

12 year old Nicola Ambruzzi, a member of Troupe Brufort and a very clever girl is taken into custody by Mary, Queen of Scots as her jester and as her friend. Throughout her journey following the Queen she experiences the chaos in both France and Scotland, nevertheless always being loyal to her queen she follows her to amuse and comfort her.


This book is best suited for ages 12-15. It is easy to read and understand. It is also very educational and entertaining for young readers.

Brooke Heitland
Jun 02, 2014 Brooke Heitland rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was really interesting. Sometimes it was hard to follow along and picture what was going on in the book. Not knowing much background about the characters, or whether they were real or not, made it really hard to understand. I wonder really whether or not this actually happened, or if this was made up. The reason why I wonder this is because the author could of used actual people's names, but just dramatized and made up the rest of it. I didn't like this book as much as I like ...more
Austen to Zafón
Feb 24, 2010 Austen to Zafón rated it really liked it
The story of Mary Queen of Scots, told from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl employed as the queen's own personal entertainer. I read this in two sittings and was up until 2 am finishing it last night. It certainly is a page-turner and Nicola doesn't disappoint as an independent, passionate, and funny observer of the events around Mary's stint as Queen of Scotland. I don't know how accurate it is, although Yolen seems to be a thorough researcher. The queen did have a fool named Nicola, but ...more
Dec 19, 2011 Wan rated it really liked it
This book was a pleasant surprise. What a fun way to learn History about Mary, Queen of Scott, and 16th Century Scotland. -- I have to find the quick way to finish my challenges. If not, I wouldn’t have even considered reading it.

I loved Nicola and her innocent way of viewing the world. Tho, ill-fated and become orphan at young age, she still had positive views of the world. I enjoyed her (or rather the author’s) wits and humors. I was laughing with her at times, especially with the Troupe Bruf
Linda Lipko
Feb 17, 2011 Linda Lipko rated it really liked it
If you like historical fiction, you might enjoy this well written book of Mary Queen of Scots from the perspective of her fool Nicola Ambruzzi.

If you can suspend the disbelief that a court jester would be as intimate and friendly with the Queen, then read along in this magical tale of intrigue, back stabbing plots and incredible sadness as Nicola shows the beauty and the folly of her much loved Queen.

Traveling in a ragley, tagley troupe of entertainers, orphaned Nicola is a savvy, quick witted,
Apr 17, 2010 Trudy rated it really liked it
When I checked this book out from the library, I was thinking it was about the "Anne of A Thousand Days" Queen, but it's not. It's about Mary, Queen of the Scots, and I think is fairly accurate when it comes to her comings and goings.

The great part is, it's told through the eyes of a very likable young woman named (why can't I ever remember their names????), but anyway, she starts out as a beaten down acrobat who catches the eye of Queen Mary (then queen of france) and is taken on as her court
Jacquelin Devlin
Jan 18, 2014 Jacquelin Devlin rated it really liked it
Can’t keep your royalty straight? Nothing helps like a novel to put a face and a personality on a historical figure, and this fictional account of Mary Queen of Scots does it so nicely! Yolen and Harris, a Scottish author, follow the queen, who loved gaiety and felt pity for even the most undeserving, through the eyes of her young “fool” or jester, Nicola Ambruzzi, called La Jardeniere.
Although born in Scotland and made queen at the age of five, Mary was also Queen of France when she and Nicol
Jun 02, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings about historical fiction in general, but this book was excellent. If you read the Wikipedia entry for Mary, Queen of Scots, you just read a summary of the book, and the actual events were exciting enough to warrant a good book.

While I'm sure details were fudged for the cause of the story, the real "fiction" part of this book was that it was told by the Queen's own fool, Nicola. Nicola was a jester of sorts, and entertained the court with song and dance, but was also very w
Aug 15, 2013 Stephanie rated it liked it
I think I have just finished the fir.... no, this is the second book I have managed to read the whole of all year. Unless you know of something I don't remember...

This is a good book, it'd be great for young adults. Its only drawback to me is that I've read and seen so many other tellings of a certain side of the story, it's hard for me to really empathize with Queen Mary, one of the very major characters.

I read this because "Girl in a Cage" was mentioned in my last class... and that being the s
Rebecca Honeycutt
"Doomed queens" seems to have become my summer reading theme: first Anne Boleyn, now Mary Queen of Scots. This book was fun to start with, and is well done (Jane Yolen always delivers), but the sense of impending doom is starting to get to me. It's not half as bad as The Other Boleyn Girl, which had me longing for Anne's decapitation when I was only halfway through the book, but still, I don't know how Yolen and Harris can faithfully describe the horrors of Mary's later life and death in a way t ...more
May 17, 2007 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teenreads
This is a young adult novel telling the story of le Jardiniere, the fool of Mary Queen of Scots. Le Jardiniere was a real person, but virtually nothing is known about her, save her position and name. Yolen and Harris have created an Italian girl of unusual candor and humor to fill this role. Yolen is a veteran YA writer and I would recommend pretty much anything by her. Fool begins in France where may was also queen by virtue of marriage, it follows Mary and her entourage through political intri ...more
Jade Whiting
Mar 21, 2013 Jade Whiting rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was really excellent. I normally don't read books based on this time period because I think they can be really boring with all of the formalities but this book was actually pretty exciting. Its about Queen Mary, a Scottish queen who is first married to King Francis of France, making her queen of France as well until he dies. It is also about a young girl named Nicola, who the queen takes as her own royal fool when Nicola does a show for the queen in France. They become close ...more
May 12, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
Although the beginning of this book was a bit slow, I soon found myself drawn in to the story of politics and intrigue surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots. The story is told from the POV of Nicola, a young woman who caught the Queen's attention as part of a travelling entertainers. The Queen, appreciative of Nicola's habit of telling the truth, invites her to become the Queen's Own Fool; her only job is to always tell the Queen the truth, no matter what, and remind her that she is a mere mortal. Ni ...more
Dec 20, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. Historical fiction about the time period we are studying, Jane Yolen.....what's not to like? It was slow reading and overly detailed. The focus was heavily on the drama, romance, and intrigue that surrounded the queen and her court. Maybe I just don't care for this time period. There were many colloquial sayings that gave us pause to interpret and lots of rich vocabulary, and I definitely feel we all understand Mary Queen of Scots better it has many ...more
Jan 06, 2016 Joan rated it liked it
I find Mary, Queen of Scots a most unlikeable of the historical characters. This is the story of Nicola is an orphan, traveling with her abusive uncle in a carnival like family group. When they perform for the king, the Queen finds her uncle beating Nicola. She buys her and makes Nicola her very own fool. She makes Nicola promise to always tell her truth, which she tries to do. When the king dies, Mary returns to Scotland. She seems to make every wrong choice. If she were a character, readers wo ...more
I enjoyed the level of historical detail regarding Mary, Queen of Scots. It was kind of funny though that Nicola was apparently unaware of her own wit. I would have thought that the job of a Fool would involve being very much aware of your word choice and what was meant by those words, but Nicola often seemed to say witty things with double meanings purely by chance. Because of Nicola's own ignorance regarding the realities of certain events, the book is an interesting vignette of Mary, Queen of ...more
Kyra Sutherland
Aug 28, 2010 Kyra Sutherland rated it it was amazing
Though I was unsure when my mother suggested this book to me, I absolutely loved it. It was an absolutely wonderful way to learn about the time period, as well as about Mary, Queen of Scots. Though an accurate historical fiction, the wonderfully crafted characters, particularly Nicola herself, draw the reader in and keep them there until the book is finished. The terror and dark nature of those times in history is illustrated perfectly in this spectacular novel, a novel I could recommend to almo ...more
Neill Smith
Aug 07, 2011 Neill Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fictionalized version of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, told from the death of her French husband in 1559 until she fled Scotland around 1570 to place herself in the hands of Elizabeth of England. It is told from the point of view of her fool, La Jardinere. Little is known about La Jardinere except that she was female and was sent home to France when Mary went to England. Much is known about Mary so the story is historically accurate although the interpretation of the events are fic ...more
Apr 04, 2011 Maddie rated it liked it
A very compelling Historical Fiction novel. Some parts of it were a little slow moving and dull, mostly because the writing didn't hold much emotion, but historically it was amazing. Historical Novels have to be really good for me to enjoy them, and I really enjoyed this one, not because of the vivid language or overflowing emotions, but because it painted a very clear, detailed portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots and her life through a character that is easy to identify with.

It was an easy read a
Feb 26, 2011 Johanness rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, it truly was although after reading this it makes me very, very sympathetic to Queen Mary and what happened to her. I loved how the characters were portrayed, they were amazing! The Queen, the Maries and Jardinière were my most favourite! The other characters were brilliant as well! Knox I found was extremely annoying same applies for the rest of the back stabbers.
Loved how everything was set out, I'm assuming there are some facts in the book, not sure about the events, but they were
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more
More about Jane Yolen...

Other Books in the Series

Stuart Quartet (4 books)
  • Girl in a Cage (Stuart Quartet, #2)
  • Prince Across the Water (Stuart Quartet, #3)
  • The Rogues (Stuart Quartet, #4)

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