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The Other Queen Hardcover – 21 Aug 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; hardcover edition (21 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007190344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007190348
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the internationally bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Now she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.

Her other great interest is the charity that she founded nearly twenty years ago: Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells for the primary schools of this poor African country.

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Amazon Review

Philippa Gregory has long been one of the most assured practitioners of historical fiction, but her profile was raised even higher by the film of her novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Gregory admirers, however, were heard to remark of that movie: ‘Not as good as the book!’ And if her new novel, the highly accomplished The Other Queen is ever afforded the Hollywood treatment, there will no doubt be a similar chorus. The reason for this dedication by her readers is not hard to fathom: assiduously researched historical facts are married to consummate storytelling skills – and the effortless ability to rescue historical figures from the dusty pages of the past.

At the centre of this novel is Mary Queen of Scotland, forced to flee into England. Mary, a devout Catholic, is, of course, a living threat to the rule of her cousin Elisabeth, whose Protestant reign is uncertain. We’ve been here before, of course, in various books and films. But Philippa Gregory’s story this time has a different emphasis: Elizabeth’s chief advisor, Cecil, formulates a plan in which the destabilising Mary will live under guard with his faithful friend, Bess of Hardwick. Bess is a remarkable woman herself; someone who has forged her own destiny, and is now in her fourth marriage, to the distinguished Earl of Shrewsbury. But soon Bess and Mary find themselves plunged into very different personal crises – with Bess’s marriage under considerable strain.

The Other Queen is wonderfully accomplished stuff, evoking a much-pored-over era with a totally fresh eye.
--Barry Forshaw


Praise for ‘The Boleyn Inheritance’:

‘Philippa Gregory truly is the mistress of the historical novel…It would be hard to make history more entertaining, lively or engaging: the characters truly come alive…This is a reliably breathtaking, suspenseful and imaginative romp from Gregory. Full of all the colours, sights and sounds of the Tudor court, it really transports you to the era. A winning formula.’ Sunday Express

‘This is historical fiction at its best’ Bella

‘A thrilling romantic history’ Eve

‘A fascinating insight into court life…Highly readable and thoroughly enjoyable and no-one writes popular history as well as Philippa Gregory’ Daily Express

‘Philippa Gregory brings the turbulent Tudors to glorious life…Delicious’ Times

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Julie Ellis-gowland on 13 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
I was crestfallen by the latest produce of Phillipa Gregory my favourite author. Having waited with baited breath for the new publication and even managing to obtain a signed copy, I did give it my best shot. Never having not completed one of her novels, in fact usually galloping through them, I have to admit to not getting past the first half of the book. The narrative was different - I think she is experimenting with a different writing style. I found it bitty as it jumped from character to character (something which Susan Howatch does with great skill). It could not retain my interest. The story lacked excitement, adventure and variety. I only hope that when she writes again she will stick to what she does best.
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132 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER on 30 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
"The Other Queen" is about Mary, Queen of Scots' imprisonment in England, focusing on the early years of her imprisonment. The story alternates between three perspectives: George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife, Bess of Hardwick who were charged with responsibility for the Queen; the third narrator being Mary, Queen of Scots. Bess is an ambitious social climber who initially thinks that hosting Queen Mary will be a way to advance the family fortunes, but who is dismayed to find that it drains their financial resources instead. George on the other hand becomes infatuated with the Queen, which causes irreparable friction in his own marriage.

I've enjoyed other books by Philippa Gregory, but The Other Queen lacks momentum. It's a long book and not a lot happens (and when things do happen, they're invariably taking place somewhere else). I enjoyed it in a mild way, but it felt so repetitive: countless variations on Bess complaining about money, George idealizing Mary and Mary telling us how charming she is. Bess was actually quite a remarkable woman for her time, but she comes across as being so unpleasant that she failed to elicit my sympathy. You also get the feeling that most of the exciting parts of Mary's life have already taken place, so there is lots of time spent filling in her back story.

As always, Philippa Gregory has done her research. I didn't necessarily agree with her interpretation of Mary's personality, but I couldn't fault it on historical grounds. It did feel however as if she couldn't quite make up her mind what the nature of Mary and Bothwell's relationship had been and why Mary had chosen to marry him, which I think is something that she needed to establish more clearly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Blackadder on 18 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has to be Philippa Gregory's weakest novel to date. She attempts to weave a story through the viewpoints of three people (Bess Hardwick, her weak husband George, and Mary, Queen of Scots).

The thinness of the material shows, as the book is much shorter than Gregory's earlier novels, with chapters just two or three pages long, with many pages virually blank until the next chapter. The font size is larger. A far cry from the small font 600 pages of before, with layers of storylines.

As to the novel itself, strong-willed Bess, a staunch Protestant, who is a rich woman in her on right, who has married many timesw is annoyed to find that she and her husband George have been given orders by William Cecil (Queen Elizabeth's chief advisor) to look after the beautiful Mary, Queen of Scots.

It is not long, however, before George starts falling for Mary and does her bidding. The cost of maintaining the Queen is all but on Bess, and she starts to see her fortune diminish.

The major fault of the novel is that the trio are constantly moved from place to place, and we hear news of goings on from the outside. The reader never actually sees these events, but just hears about them from the lips of others. Very much a hearsay novel, in which nothing actually happens.

The death of Mary, Queen of Scots is a shambles. George describes it in a vision years before it happens, and right at the end, Bess tells us that Mary was executed when the novel suddenly jumps many years forward. As before, we don't 'see' the important events actually happen.

The 'triple narration' idea was very successful in Gregory's earlier novel 'The Boleyn Inheritance', but failed miserably here. Philippa needs to put more substance in her novels. I was pushed to give this two stars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Hunter on 18 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
Being a fan of Philippa Gregory, particularly of her other Tudor novels which I have loved, I was so disappointed with this non story which I had to force myself to finish. None of the characters are likeable and the story ( which we all know the ending of ) drags out over the Queen's years of exile in England. Don't buy this if you're a fan of The Other Boleyn Girl or other Tudor novels by this author as this could have been written by someone else.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Janie on 23 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading Philippa Gregory's latest Tudor novel and must confess that I was disappointed in it. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed all her other Tudor books, but the author just didn't hold my attention with this one.

It is about Mary Queen of Scots, one of the most famous and enigmatic queens of history, and concerns a period during her captivity. She is being held in some of the various castles and houses belonging to the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury( the famous Bess of Hardwick) dotted around England. The story is narrated by these three people only. Queen Mary always seems to be saying how wonderful she is, and how so many countries and people will do absolutely anything for her, including putting her back on the throne of Scotland or even on the throne of England. She plots and plans her escape continually and doesn't seem to mind putting her admirers in great danger for her. George, the Earl of Shrewsbury falls in love with her and is blind to all her plotting and deception, while his wife Bess watches all of this from the sidelines. Towards the end of the book, the Earl realises the Queen's deception, and I think that the author dealt well with that part.

I have read quite a few books about Mary Queen of Scots and I appreciate how difficult it must be for an author to write about her from a new perspective. I can't help thinking that maybe there are no new facets to this dramatic historical person to be found. Authors are maybe just going to give rein to their imagination to create another story about her? People will always want to read more and more about Mary, and I include myself here too.

My lasting impression of this book is one of repetition, repetition and more repetition. To date, Philippa Gregory has written wonderful books, so maybe she has just written a not so wonderful one?
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