The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: The Tudor Court
Release Date: February 4, 2004
Category: Historical Fiction / Romance
Setting: London, 1548
Author Website: http://www.philippagregory.com/
About this series:
The Tudor Court series highlights several of the key women in Tudor history who have influenced England. Gregory has a unique talent for combining historical details with fictional portrayals giving readers intriguing stories stacked with knowledge. At the end of each book Gregory provides an Author’s Note section which will let you know where the fiction in her story deviates from history and how she has filled in the blanks. These are great stories that will entertain but I think they will also inspire some readers to do their own research and rediscover an appreciation for history. History doesn’t have to be the boring subject most high school curriculum would make you believe. Gregory should be the spokesperson for a new history ad campaign. We could avoid so many pains if we just took some time to look at our history and learn from our mistakes. The Tudor Court series contains both some success stories and some failures we could learn from.
About this book:
All Hail the Queen of Historical Fiction! Long Live Philippa Gregory!
The Queen’s Fool is a page-turner; full of intrigue, desire, and lust in the Tudor court. Gregory, who is a master historian of Tudor power players, weaves entertaining plotlines with her Average Joe characters to give us a glimpse of how the rich and famous lived. Her main characters would be mere bit players in some other author’s books, but with Gregory’s crafting these average secondary characters come to life and take center stage with such realism and that it is hard not to think of them as real people. By the end of this book – and basically every novel Gregory has written – her characters feel so real that I often feel as if I’ve lost a great friend when I finish the last page.
In this offering, Gregory sets the stage at a critical point in England’s history. Young but sickly Edward VI, only child Jane Seymour (wife #3 for Henry VIII), dies suddenly at fifteen. King Edward was determined to keep England faithful to his father’s religion, the Church of England. To do so Edward excluded his Catholic half-sister, Princess Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon (wife #1 for Henry VIII), from inheriting his throne. But in doing so, Edward also excluded his Protestant half-sister, Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn (wife #2 of Henry VIII). Lacking a clear heir, Edward picked his cousin, the daughter of Henry’s sister Mary, Lady Jane Grey to take the throne just before he dies.
However torn the people of England are between Catholicism and Protestantism (and thus between their love of both Princesses Mary and Elizabeth), they united against the usurper. Everyone realizes that Lady Jane is an innocent pawn in an attempt to capture the throne by her power-hungry relatives, but no one wants her to sit on the throne.
Confused yet by the troubling relationships of the English monarchy? Don’t worry! Gregory presents this complicated backstory in a much more interesting manner than my poor recitation. Amidst all this royal juggling, Gregory turns our attention to young Hannah Green. Taught all her life to hide who she is, Hannah falls under the spell of handsome Robert Dudley, who casts her as a Holy Fool with the gift of the Sight. Hannah, like the two Princesses, is influenced greatly by her mother. All three of were denied a mothers’ guidance. As a result, all three women must forged their own futures.
There’s a message in this story. Not a starch priest’s sermon. Not a cautionary tale of youth. But a message of hope. Please take the time to discover on your own the gifts that only Gregory, a talented wordsmith, could give readers. For example…
First, you might notice a different more human portrayal of Robert Dudley. Typically cast as a schemer, Gregory tempers Dudley’s political wheeling-and-dealing with a touch of kindness and romanticism that a real man would likely be conflicted with in such a powerful role. Secondly, I fell in love with Hannah like she was my best friend or a special sorority sister. Reading the final pages was painful, as I knew my time with the Holy Fool grew short.
But that is the wonderful promise of books, isn’t it? When times are tough, I can open The Queen’s Fool again. I’ll say “Hello” to an old friend, and find some strength and comfort between the pages for a few hours.
Learn about all books in The Tudor Court series:
Other books of interest: The Cousins’ War series