Friday, June 15, 2012

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

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.

This is a review of the Audio Version

I absolutely loved listening to The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory and was thrilled when I realized that The Other Queen was performed in a similar fashion - with different voices/people reading the various points of view.  There are three different point of view in this novel, Mary Queen of Scots, George Talbot and Bess of Hardwick.  Each reader captured the characters personality perfectly. 

Mary in captivity, by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1578

I know very little about the history of Mary Queen of Scots so the historical portion of Gregory's book was intriguing to me.  Especially since Gregory decided to write this from Mary's point of view instead of Elizabeth's.  My one issue with Mary's character is that she seemed very much like Catherine in The Constant Princess (which I didn't care for), always steadfast in what she believed in and never giving up. 

George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury

George drove me nuts.  He was a very repetitive character, always thinking and saying the same things.  When he fell in love with Mary he became simpering.  He never once came across as a strong person that a Queen would put in charge of imprisoning the rival to her thrown. 

Bess of Hardwick, 1550s

Now Bess was an extremely interesting character and I think I could read an entire book about her.  Gregory portrays her as a woman who doesn't need a man but knowing the time she lives in puts up with husbands.  She is sufficient in accounting, dealing with her tenants and has a level head.  George is Bess's fourth husband so she had already acrewed her money and knowledge.  The interaction between Bess and George is also interesting.  They at one point seem to have been in love but once Mary is in the picture everything changes.  But George doesn't leave her out in the cold, that might be his only redeeming quality.

All in all listening to this book was probably better than reading it since it was a bit repetitive (I think that would come across worse in the books).  I am not thrilled with the Title choice, it is a little to close to The Other Boleyn Girl for my taste.  I'm glad I listen to it because I know a bit more history now, however I would recommend The Boleyn Inheritance on audio before I would this one.

I am linking up with 

I'm going to give this one 3 sprinkles of glitter


Creative Wings Boutique said...

i need to try the audio version of books some times ...then i can still have my hands free to craft and clean...hugs

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

I love Philippa Gregory's book. The Queen's Fool is one of my favorite books. I have not read The Other Queen yet, and it has been on my TBR list *forever*...Sorry I got my linky up so late.....we have been traveling today!