Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review :: The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory

Gregory's fourth book her Tudor Series The Queen's Fool follows the fictional Hannah Verde/Green as the Queen's Fool, bouncing between Princess/Queen Mary and Princess/Queen Elizabeth as they battle for the throne.  However, aside from dealing with sisters at war, Hannah has her own concerns as a Jew hiding in a Catholic/Protestant, heretic-burning-happy England.  She's also a Sight Seer - which, for some reason, is seen as a holy gift instead of witchcraft (odd for Tudor England).  On top of that, Hannah is of marrying age and is betrothed to "traditional" man, counter to her independent nature.  Oh, let's also throw in the fact that she's in love with her Lord.  Seriously, Hannah has problems.

I was excited to get to the Mary vs. Elizabeth novel and unfortunately, I was very let down.  Gregory's writing was lazy, frequently repeating plot points as a way to fill pages.  I don't know how many more times I could be reminded what Hannah's prophecies actually said or that she was sensitive to the smell of smoke because her mother was burned at the stake.  I get it.  I actually felt like this novel was much too long for its content and talked down to the reader.

However, I did appreciate the picture Gregory painted of Mary and Elizabeth.  Both characters were familiar and in line with my understanding of how the two women were.  The next novel, The Virgin's Lover, focuses on Elizabeth and hopefully will not disappoint as much as this one did.

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Book Review :: The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

The third book in Gregory's Tudor Series The Boleyn Inheritance perfectly handles the less-than-thrilling end to Henry VIII's reign.  Gregory skips over Queen Jane's short rule - who wants to hear about a happy kind and queen anyway? - and dives right into the arrangement with Anne of Cleaves.  The cadence of the story is very quick, bouncing between three women's perspectives - Anne of Cleaves, Kathryn Howard and Jane Boleyn (George Boleyn's widow) - as the storyline progresses.

Gregory takes more historical liberties with this novel, as not many intimate details are known about his last marriages.  The true worth of the read is experiencing Gregory writing in three very distinct voices.  I very rarely needed to reference who I was reading under (written on the first page of each chapter) because each person had a specific speech pattern and concerns.  Kudos to Gregory for that!

Otherwise, the book was "okay".  Entertaining, at best.

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