Back of the Book:
Historical novels about queens and princes possess a double, seemingly contradictory lure: On one hand, they conjure up images of royal wealth and splendor that seem remote to us. On the other, they portray humans torn by passions and intrigues that we can all understand. In her latest full immersion into British history, Gregory revisits the endlessly fascinating drama of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. As retold in The Other Queen, the story of Mary’s lavish imprisonment as the “guest” of the Earl of Shrewbury displays a tinge of surrealism, especially when counterpoised against the cutthroat schemes of the Elizabethan court. An exquisite royal entertainment.
Using the multiple-viewpoint technique that worked well in The Boleyn Inheritance (2006), Gregory fictionalizes a little-explored episode in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1568, after fleeing rebellious Scottish lords, Mary is placed into the custody of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife, Bess of Hardwick. This turns their Derbyshire estate into a hotbed of intrigue and possible treason. George, normally loyal to a fault, falls in love with Mary; Bess secretly reports to William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, while fretting about her foolish husband and the continual draining of their funds; Mary plays them against one another while plotting to escape, with Cecil noting her every move. Gregory skillfully evokes the suspenseful atmosphere—it was never certain that the 1569 Rising of the North in favor of Catholic Mary would fail—but the protagonists’ inner thoughts, as presented in short alternating chapters, are unnecessarily repetitive. Although this isn’t her best work, Gregory’s writing is sharpest toward the end, as the unavoidable consequences of Mary’s long imprisonment are finally felt by all. –Sarah Johnson
Format Read: ebook
The very worst thing about this book is the changing perspectives. It’s narrated by three people and it’s so frustrating to read and remember who is speaking at any given time. Also, Bess ticks me off. She comes across as a materialistic harpy and even when her husband is mooning over another woman in their home, I can’t feel sorry for her.
The very best thing about this book is the story in general. When you’re able to remember who is narrating, the story is fantastic and it’s even somewhat worth the headache you’ll get from the narrators changing so often!
This book will be placed under the 2011 E-Book Reading Challenge.