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The Queen's Fool: a review

We sat last night with one of the owners/instructors at the school last night and talked about whether Matt and I will continue once our four weeks of taekwondo is up Thursday.  We're loving it.  Having a lot of fun going, and we're finally learning to relax and get to know the others in the class.  However, after looking at the price break down, I'm not sure we're going to continue now.  We may put it off until after we get married in November.  When it comes down to it, as much as we like it, the money we spend on it, SHOULD be going towards wedding stuff right now.  Not extras, like taekwondo.  The good news is, that if we had belts, we would've gotten our first stripe last night.  As it is, we'll have to wait some time.

The Queen's Fool by Phillipa Gregory
If you visit a bookstore on a regular basis, you may have seen one of Phillipa Gregory's books on display, if not this one exactly.  In an effort to collect some new material to satisfy my need for some historical/Tudor fiction, I thought I grab this one (half-priced bookstore is good!) and give it a shot.  I'd read some very mixed reviews on it, and not really being one to agree with the majority when it comes to fiction, thought I'd just figure it out for myself.  However, I did enter with some trepidation, almost expecting this to be mostly bodice-ripping and less historical fun even if I did pick it up from Literature and not Romance.  To my great suprise, Gregory manages to weave an interesting plot about a young girl into the not completely accurate historical aspect of the lives of Bloody Mary and Princess Elizabeth. 

This being my favorite period of historical fiction (that of the lives of Mary and Elizabeth) I was quite pleased that her portrayal of Mary was more humanistic than bloody and Elizabeth was conniving and shrewd if not quite the player.  *grin*  A few interesting notes about this novel other than it's 500 page length: 1) the back cover snippet suggests a slight fantastical note the main character has "the Sight", but in reality Gregory rarely ever gives us a good glimpse at Hannah's abilities, and when she does it's for plot's sake only (slightly disappointing), 2) Gregory occassionally uses meta-plot writing when explaining things in the novel for example the love Elizabeth has for attracting other women's husbands, something that's more a historical explanation than a notice the main character would pick up on, and 3) Hannah, the main character while pity-able and interesting enough, has the bad luck to be prescribed as Gregory as a Spanish Jew; and while an interesting concept, it's hard to picture (for me at least) and after awhile becomes repetitive in Hannah's story. 

All in all it's a good read, I'm going back to the first book in this little era, called The Other Bolyen Girl which is more about Henry and Anne.  We'll see if I can continue to support her writing style after it.  There's a third one out as well, The Virgin's Lover which I've read to be about the relationship Elizabeth and Robert play in court once she's Queen.  Using a point of view of Amy Dudley, Robert's wife he's left behind, but not left. 

Comments

( 4 felicitations — Felicitate Me )
ubermeg
Apr. 21st, 2005 12:09 am (UTC)
OOoooo. Another fan of historical fiction =D

Ive got just about every Phillipa Gregory book (If I read a book and like it, I tend to go crazy and hunt down every other book the author has written) and The Other Boleyn Girl was the standout for me. But then, I have a somewhat intense fascination for Anne Boleyn - I think her story is just incredible ;)

Have you read The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis? I just finished it. Quite good once you get past the first couple of chapters. If you havent read it, heres the blurb...

"If you enjoy the historical novels of Philippa Gregory than The Borgia Bride is sure to appeal. While life at court during the reigns of Henry VIII and his children may have been fraught with danger, it was still a much safer place to be than the papal court of Pope Alexander VI, also known as Roderigo Borgia. The bride of the title is Princess Sancha de Aragon, the illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso II of Naples. At seventeen Sancha becomes Alexander’s reluctant daughter-in-law when she is forced to marry his youngest son, Jofre.

When Sancha arrives in Rome with her new husband, who is several years younger than her, she is shocked by what she finds. While her family back in Naples has more than a few skeletons in their own cupboards, nothing can match the debauchery and the treachery she encounters at the Vatican. Although Alexander may be the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, the Pope’s main preoccupations are his lust for power and for women, including his own daughter, Lucrezia.

Initially she is attracted to Jofre’s older brother, the enigmatic Cesare, who appears to be both sensitive and sympathetic to her plight. They embark on a passionate affair until Sancha discovers that Cesare has more in common with his father than she first thought. During her time at the Vatican Sacha becomes determined to avenge herself against those who seek to destroy the people she loves and eventually she uses one of the Borgia’s most potent weapons against them.

The Borgia Bride is a great way to learn about the colourful and violent history of Naples and Rome during the latter half of the fifteenth century. Royal marriages are made and ended, treaties agreed to and then ignored, all in the name of political expediency. Pope Alexander VI and his sons are as unscrupulous and as lethal as any Mafia Don while the women in their lives are treated as either political pawns or as objects for sexual gratification."
cherith
Apr. 21st, 2005 12:11 am (UTC)
I haven't read that one, but sounds like one I'll have to pick up. I've read the Vampire trilogy Jeanne Kalogridis wrote, as well as The Burning Times which I absolutely loved to death! Thanks for the recommendation.
ubermeg
Apr. 21st, 2005 12:17 am (UTC)
Hee, The Burning Times is the next one im going to read - I bought it yesterday ^_^
cherith
Apr. 21st, 2005 12:18 am (UTC)
I hope you like it. I read it years ago, and fell in love with it. It's one of those I can read again and again. Let me know what you think of it.
( 4 felicitations — Felicitate Me )