Long story, cut short.....Hannah Verde, Spanish, Jewish, settles in England with her father after their flight from the Spanish Inquisition, given over to the Royal court of young King Edward as his Holy Fool, on his death she transfers to Queen Mary as her fool and here the story begins.....
This is my third Philippa Gregory and as expected it is a solid story, but not on the same par as her Bolyen books. I felt as though I learned quite a lot about Queen Mary, who as the book progressed seemed to get more and more unhinged, and it's no surprise she earned the name 'Bloody Mary'. Elizabeth was portrayed as thouroughly unlikeable and self serving and I don't doubt that she was all that and more and even the main players at court were just as I imagined them to be; fickle, scheming, underhand, greedy and manipulative, but it was the main character who really spoiled things for me. No matter what situation was unfolding, Hannah was always right there in the thick of things and after a while she really started to grate on me.
She didn't have a bad word to say about anybody, regardless of how horribly they treated her, and she kept going back for more of the same. I realise she wouldn't have had a lot of say in matters regarding how she was put to use by her employers but one minute she's litterally wetting herself as she's about to be tortured as a heritic because Mary has a bee in her bonnet (to put it mildly) about non Catholics, even though she considers Hannah her trusted friend....then the next minute Hannah is all doe eyed at Mary's feet and defending her against any critics....it just doesn't make sense. She has the means to escape and put it all behind her, but she does everything in her power to stay.
She can't seem to make up her mind about where her loyalties lie for most of the book and dithers from one plot master to the next, depending on what's afoot at any given time. Mary, Elizabeth, Lord Robert Dudley, her betrothed, John Dee...and, and, and. I just couldn't relate to her because she just didn't seem to have the wit to remove herself from danger when the opportunity arose. The exit was right there for her, and she chose not to take it.
Having said that, the story itself was interesting and enjoyable, if a little slow. The pace wasn't as fast as in her other books but overall the story was a good one.
I haven't been put off and I still plan to work my way through her other books, but if this is your first try of Philippa Gregory, this isn't her best.