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Queen of Ambition Hardcover – 28 Jan 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (28 Jan. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743202643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743202640
  • Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 2.6 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,118,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Kirkus Reviews" Ursula is the essence of iron cloaked in velvet -- a heroine to reckon with.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
As with the earlier novels, the characters are engaging and the story flows nicely. However, the plot here seriously threatened my credulity and I just did not find the playlet scenario convincing. A shock in the last few pages, though, in terms of Ursula's family development.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x90981edc) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3b4900) out of 5 stars well worth reading in spite of flaws... 9 Feb. 2002
By tregatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There are quite a few strikes against "The Queen of Ambition" -- a tenuous intrigue plot (part of the problem here is that Buckley portrays the villains in an almost comic fashion, that it is difficult indeed to take them seriously, or the threat that they pose to the Queen); a far fetched solution to the plot (a more cumbersome cipher I have yet to come across, also there was a flaw in the whole cipher subplot, but if I pointed it out in my review, that would be giving away things); Ursula's guilt over almost having slept with her manservant Brockley (the third time she's goes into the 'thank-goodness-we-didn't-give-in' routine, and I was rooting for Fran to leave this sorry pair and find new and better employment!)... Add to this the fact that I'm not a fan of the Tudors, and found Buckley's/Ursula's whitewashing of Elizabeth quite nauseating, and you'd be right to ask why I would recommend this mystery novel as a good read?
Make no mistake about it however, "The Queen of Ambition" is a good read. As reviewer Charles Falk so accurately noted, Fiona Buckley does a wonderful job of interweaving the political and religious problems that Elizabeth I and her ministers faced, with the plot of this mystery novel. But what I also liked was the manner in which Buckley realistically interweaved the kind of life a servant at an Elizabethan pie-shop would lead -- the hard and relentless work, how much a servant's life was bound to the whims and caprices of the master, and the precious few hours off, with Ursula's covert search for proof of wrong-doing. Far too often, mystery writers never go into how an agent's cover can get in the way of his/her undercover work. This was, I thought, a splendid touch. I also liked the manner in which Ursula's confidence in her abilities as a secret agent are developing. Ursula Blanchard is not an easy female protagonist to like completely, but it is easy to respect her abilities and her competence. And I think that Buckley is beginning to make Ursula question many of her past assumptions about her past relationships (with her first husband, and her aunt in particular). More introspection would definitely add more 'spice' to the mix.
The novel unfolds interestingly enough. Buckley is very good at adding little bits of information and plot developments that adds to the tension level of this intrigue novel -- in spite of the ongoing critiquing that was going on in my mind, I was glued to the pages until I finished the novel! So all in all, I'd say that this is a book that is worth reading.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3b49d8) out of 5 stars Elizabethan intrigue 5 Jan. 2002
By charles falk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In this instance I concur with the opinion of the ubiquitous and easily-pleased "#1". Fiona Buckley has written an exciting intelligent historical mystery set in 1564, early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is the time before Elizabeth has become "good Queen Bess"; a time filled with uncertainty and unrest over issues of religion and the royal succession. Mary, Queen of Scots and others vie for the right to succeed or replace her on the throne. Elizabeth's council led by Sir William Cecil are frantic for her to marry -- marry almost anyone -- except her favorite Robert Dudley (later to become the Earl of Leicester). Buckley's plot is skillfully intertwined with those issues.
Elizabeth and her court are about to set off on a royal summer progress to Cambridge. Cecil is worried about a proposed student "entertainment" involving a mock sword fight with Dudley and a faked abduction. He calls upon the services of his secret agents, including Ursula Blanchard, to investigate whether there is something sinister behind the student jape. I have some difficulty with Blanchard serving as a trusted operative for Sir William. Not only is she a woman (in a time when women occupied a circumscribed role in society), but she is married to a French Catholic nobleman. Cecil was adamantly anti-Catholic and anti-French. Once one accepts the unlikely existence of her lead character, Buckley provides a fast-paced, well-written yarn.
Ursula decides to go undercover by working in a pie shop frequented by the students planning the entertainment. The leader of the group dies in a riding accident shortly after she meets him. The Queen's arrival is imminent, pressuring Blanchard and her associates to come up with answers quickly.
Though the solution is intricate and a bit farfetched, Buckley gives the reader a throughly enjoyable trip through the society and intrigues of Elizabethan England. I particularly like the way Buckley shows Ursula and her colleagues as rounded human beings, affected and altered by the events of the story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3b4dbc) out of 5 stars Graet historical mystey 18 Dec. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In 1564, Secretary of State Sir William Cecil worries about the safety of Queen Elizabeth when Her Majesty travels to Cambridge on a Royal Progress. William knows that the university town harbors religious fanatics who would love to assassinate the Queen and put her cousin on the throne. He is especially concerned with a student play that Elizabeth plans to attend.

William recalls lady-in-waiting and sometimes spy Ursula Blanchard, to return to work and do what she does so well going undercover. Ursula, who was rusticating with her preadolescent daughter, obtains a job in a very popular student hangout, Roland Jester's Pie Shop. There she hears plots and counterplots to include rumors on the accidental death of a student who worried about the Queen's safety while attending their performance.

QUEEN OF AMBITION cleverly blends genuine tidbits with fiction so that the reader obtains a strong historical mystery. The cogent story line engages the audience with a vividly described plot and a effective cast though some tertiary characters seem unnecessary to the well being of the tale. However, as with Fiona Buckley's four previous Blanchard novels this book belongs to the remarkable heroine who turns this story into a royal read for fans of Elizabethan novels and historical mysteries.

Harriet Klausner
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3b61ec) out of 5 stars Another winner 16 April 2002
By Jill Shure - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Once again, Fiona Buckley delivers a page turner. This, along with her other Elizabethan mysteries, is a rare treat, filled with historical details that seduce the reader into exciting hours of good reading.
HASH(0x8f3b6360) out of 5 stars Ignore the Title; A Strange Conspiracy 2 Jan. 2009
By April - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ursula Blanchard, one of Queen Elizabeth's ladies of the Presence Chamber, is called upon by Cecil to be one of the advance party sent to Cambridge, where the Queen will be going on a Royal Progress. Cecil doesn't have any sure information regarding plots against Elizabeth, but something about the impromptu skit performed by students during the welcoming arouses his suspicions. Ursula also finds something troubling about it, but even after the death of one of the students, during which she goes undercover as an employee of the pie shop where the play will take place, it is hard to uncover a plot or any motivation in pro-Protestant, pro-Elizabeth Cambridge.

The period details are fascinating, set during a time when plots around Mary Queen of Scots still abounded and when the memory of Bloody Mary was still strong. Ursula's ability to be effective as a spy due to the unexpectedness of her gender, and the difficulties of life serving under a tough master add to the interest. The mystery was curious, although not much was revealed of it until the end.

I have only read one previous book in this series and although my experience was satisfactory enough, I still haven't warmed much to Ursula and her adventures. There is something about her feelings that remain distant and somewhat cold, and I'm still uncertain about her motivations--and those of the people around her.
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