Annalisa's Reviews > The Queen's Fool

The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
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's review
May 08, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, chick-lit
Recommended to Annalisa by: Melinda
Read in May, 2008

What I did like about this book is that she showed us Queen Mary's court from a Jew hidden in a battle between Catholic and Protestant loyalties where the wrong choice could get you killed. This girl had fear of both sides. It was an interesting choice of voice. What Gregory didn't seem able to give voice to were the fool's wits. And now I see why she never showed us Anne's wit in The Other Boleyn Girl: she herself is void of intelligent humor.

I enjoyed grasping bloody Mary's motives. One thing Gregory does well is given her royal villians (so to speak) believable motivations. It seemed strange to juxtapose the composed convictions of Queen Catherine (her mother) with this murderous queen who wanted to mother her people. Plus she has her own disjointed behavoirs of burnings Protestants at the stake while granting treasonous pardons. She didn't make sense to me before this read.

In the book you see how Mary wants to reclaim, set right, a country her father stole from her mother's church in a tough love sense. You see that she pardons plans against her crown because they are not mistakes binding your soul to hell and the wrongdoers can be repentant while allowing the root of Protestantism to grow will kill the souls of her patrons and it must be stamped out. Besides, her grandparents (Ferdinand and Isabella) initiated the Spanish Inquisition to wide-spread praise. So even though I had this picture of a revengeful bloody Mary in my head, that is not root of her motivation.

I was in contrast disappointed in was her interpretation of Elizabeth. It could be that I want to set her on a pedestal ignoring all her actions that I would find appalling in a modern-day leader. But I couldn't accept the character when she introduces her as a lustful child chasing after her guardian father. So I did my own research and it seems she was correct in her flirtations with Thomas Seymour. But I don't think it was her chasing him as Gregory implies. It was Stockholm's syndrome. Any child that is raped and then lead to believe it was their fault (particularly since she was a woman and women were seen as seductive) is going to be flirtatious, loose with her morals, but ultimately ill-trusting of men. That was Queen Elizabeth and so it seems an obvious choice of explanation. It bothers me that she was blamed, but then again those were the times.

My reservations about Gregory still stand and there were instances where the narrative dragged, but overall I liked this story. It wasn't as page-turning as The Other Boleyn Girl, but it was better than The Boleyn Inheritance.
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