Yesterday I finished reading The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory, and I really enjoyed it. If you have seen my Goodreads bookshelf or any of my posts lately, you will know that I have been reading this for about a week and a half. For me, this is a little weird, because usually I finish about two books a week- one a week if i have a lot to do. But this book is kind of long and I have had hardly any time to read lately!
So basically, this book is about Mary, Queen of Scots, and her “guardians”, in the 1570’s. A little background info on the author, Phillipa Gregory; for most of her books she takes real life stories of English kings, queens, and members of the court and gives them drama and romance! Now, I don’t know if other people would like this, but the idea fascinated me from the start. So while this book is for the most part historically accurate, there is some very interesting stuff added!
This is the story of when Mary, Queen of Scots is removed from her throne in Scotland because of rebellion, and she takes refuge in England with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth. However, because Queen Elizabeth is an illegitimate child of the king and Mary was the first heir to the throne, Queen Elizabeth is paranoid about her. She places her on a kind of “house arrest” with one of her most trusted lords, George Shrewsbury and his new wife, Bess. This is the story of her many attempts at escape, finding love, and I have to warn you, has a little bit of a tragic ending.
That tragic ending, in fact, is the reason that on Goodreads I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I’m pretty sure I haven’t had an opportunity to discuss this on here yet, but I really, really, really don’t like sad endings. I respect the power of a heartbreaking ending from a writer’s perspective, because it can bring a whole new level of emotion to the novel, but as a reader, a sad ending leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth about the book. Although in this book, I agree with the sad ending, it definitely fit the needs of the story.
The other thing that I didn’t like about this book is that it seems to be longer than it should be. I realize that the author is trying to make the book accurate to the actual time period Queen Mary was kept in captivity, but it comes off as a little drawn out.
Those two things are the ONLY things I disliked about this book. The book switches perspective with every chapter, we go from the honorable George, to the extremely beautiful Mary, to the frugal Bess. For the entire book we aren’t sure who is the main character- we guess it is Mary- we aren’t sure because each of the characters get equal emphasis- but at the end you find out. There is a little bit of romance in this book, but not enough to bother anyone who doesn’t like romance. The Other Queen certainly keeps your emotions from getting too comfortable, and I don’t believe I have ever read a book with more dynamic characters.
I know this will be a well worn book on my bookshelf, and I can’t wait to read her other books, particularly The White Queen, which shows Queen Elizabeth’s story. Hopefully these two books intertwine with each other, but I can’t be positive. Anyone who has read them both, could you tell me please?
I highly recommend this to anyone, particularly if you enjoy history and old England. If this doesn’t sound quite right for you, check out some of Phillipa Gregory’s other books, I bet they are just as good!
Tell me your thoughts if you have read or are reading this, as always!