The Queen's Fool: A Novel (Boleyn)
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Product Description

A young woman caught in the rivalry between Queen Mary and her half sister, Elizabeth, must find her true destiny amid treason, poisonous rivalries, loss of faith, and unrequited love.

It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of "Sight," the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward's protector, who brings her to court as a "holy fool" for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires.

Teeming with vibrant period detail and peopled by characters seamlessly woven into the sweeping tapestry of history, The Queen's Fool is another rich and emotionally resonant gem from this wonderful storyteller.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Royal Read
    This was a really excellent book. I wouldn't say that it was really emotionally engaging, although it is indeed sympathetic, but the story nonetheless was in continuous flux which keeps the reader constantly attentive. It was a really beautiful portrait of history and a sweet story about a young girls role in the regal and yet not-so-regal lives of England's rulers. It had well written moments of joy, sorrow, and fear. This is a book I would recommend and probably read again myself....more info
  • Big fan of Gregory and all of her books, this one's no different.
    In all truthfulness, I haven't met a Philippa Gregory novel that I didn't like. They are not literary masterpieces, sure, but they are certainly entertaining, fun books set in a VERY interesting time in history (mostly during the Tudor reign of England). The Queen's Fool was no different - I loved the characters, the setting, the historical descriptions, the raunchiness dressed up as romance; I loved it all. One aspect of The Queen's Fool that I especially liked was the main character, Hannah Green. I liked how this book was told from the perspective of someone outside of the royal family - it gave quite a different spin on the events, and the book wasn't JUST focused on court life. There was a deeper aspect to the story, since the entire time Hannah was worried about the Inquisition and constantly fearing that someone would discover her secret about her own past. I felt that Hannah was a pretty likable character - she certainly wasn't perfect and made plenty of mistakes along the way, but she always seemed to want to do the right thing and was generally a good person amidst the evil surrounding the royal family. I also enjoyed how the book spent a lot of time on Queen Mary, as I haven't read much fiction based on her before. Of course I'm well aware that Ms. Gregory's books aren't extremely historically accurate, but I found the plot surrounding Queen Mary interesting all the same.

    Generally speaking, if you're a Philippa Gregory fan, The Queen's Fool is one not to be missed. And if you're a historical fiction/historical romance fan and haven't read anything by this author, I'd suggest giving her a try. I always find myself racing through her books - they are highly entertaining and I can't recommend them enough....more info
  • An interesting historical novel, despite the farfetched narrator
    The best thing about this book was the way that she was able to treat both Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor as sympathetic and likeable characters, even as they are volleying for the throne. It was an interesting read, with some rather unbelievable aspects, including the character of the narrator and her relationship with her husband....more info
  • Queen's Fool
    This was not my favorite of Philippa's Tudor novels. I loved the Constant Princess which seemed more historical whereas this was basically a novel with little relevance to history. It was easy to read and entertaining but not what I expected after her earlier Tudor stories....more info
  • Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Phillipa Gregory has yet to disapoint me. I love all her books. I highly recommend them all!!!! ...more info
  • A Must Read!
    This book was a real attention grabber. I couldn't put it down once I started it. You learn a lot about Mary and more about Elizabeth. Hannah the fool was actually a real fixture in this time. I'm not how major a role she played in the history of this family but other books mention her and she did affect other important people's lives in this time. It's got scandal and tragedy. I recommend it!...more info
  • Not Boleyn but a strong 4.5 stars
    Enjoyable story about the time of "Bloody Mary" in 16th century England. If you like historical fiction of this time, you will enjoy this as well. While it doesn't quite rate as high as The Other Boleyn Girl it certainly is not disappointing. I enjoyed this read immensely and highly recommend it....more info
  • Boring!
    After reading The Other Boleyn Girl (which I loved), I decided to give this book a try. Half way through (which was 375 pages worth of reading time that I'll never get back) I ended up just giving up. The plot moved so sloooowly. And it was very repetitive. How many times do we have to hear Hannah explain how "if you are near the Queen (or Princess) you can't help but love her"? I think the author spent too much time establishing Hannahs good heart and innocence when she should have been developing other characters or moving forward the story. They moved from castle to castle and around and around which could have all been cut out and would have saved some segments of sheer boredom. Also, how many times did she go to her fathers house and low and behold Daniel was there? That was a thinly veiled and predictable love triangle. Speaking of, we were given no reason to care about Robert Dudley, so the love triangle didn't work for me. This book had potential, but could have been saved by some major editing. I would pass on this one....more info
  • My First Gregory read
    I've always been something of a history buff, and lately I've been on a history kick as far as my reading goes, both fiction and non-fiction.
    This novel is about a young girl who has fled to England with her father from Spain, after her mother is burned by the Inquisition as a Jew. They are all members of the underground Jewish community during this time period, people who nominally converted to Christianity while struggling to hold true to their Jewish roots. Hannah, the main character, is doubly cursed (or perhaps blessed) by the Second Sight, and is brought to court by Lord Robert Dudley to serve as a second Fool for King Edward. She stays on with the court through the reign of Queen Mary.
    There are a number of stories interwoven in this novel. It is both a coming-of-age tale and a tale of intrigue in the English court. The historical detail is quite good, and accurate as far as I know...a few of the character details of the historical figures are I'm sure fictionalized, as is the main character and her family, although the situation the family is in is realistic enough.
    If you enjoy historical fiction, you'll enjoy this book. Gregory's writing style is engaging and smooth, and makes for fairly easy reading, suitable for airplane flights or relaxing before bed....more info
  • Vexing. Very Vexing.
    Moments after I completed this book, I finally figured out what had been bugging me about it the entire time I read it, and preventing me from enjoying it more: it's really two books, tumbled together as one. There are two stories here, and they never quite work together as a single book. One story revolves around a Jewish girl named Hannah who has to constantly fear being killed for her religious beliefs, must hide with her father in plain sight, posing as a Christian (and perhaps slowly becoming one) and constantly trying to resist the servitude of marriage, the restrictions of womanhood, and the permanence of growing up. It's a fascinating coming of age story with a solid love story at its core, set in an exciting historical context that moves quickly (if repetitively) and left me wanting more.

    The other story is . . . less successful. In that story, the same girl also happens to have the gift of Sight, allowing her to occasionally have visions and make prophesies. This gift allows her to become the Holy Fool for King Edward, Queen "Bloody" Mary and the future Queen Elizabeth I. Though Hannah is a young girl and a Jew, Gregory would have us believe that her gift allowed her to get close enough to two queens for them to talk to her as if she were a loyal friend and a confessor -- to ask her advice, to use her a spy, and to beg for her predictions. This part of the story simply never worked for me. It wasn't well-written enough for me to ever suspend my disbelief, even for one second. I never believed that either Elizabeth or Mary would be so open and honest about their feelings with anyone, let alone a character like Hannah, who is both a child and a Fool. Gregory simply over reaches herself, especially when she tries to elicit the reader's sympathy by painting Mary as a heartbroken woman who burned hundreds of innocent people in order to better "mother" her country. Bloody Mary is simply too notorious a villain for Gregory's writing skills to overcome, and no matter how much I read about her sorrow over losing two children and the affection of her husband, I never stopped thinking of her as anything more than a butcher who was getting what she deserved. Elizabeth herself says it best in the book, on page 463 of the paperback edition: " . . . her sadness at the loss of a child who never was is nothing compared with the grief of a woman who sees her son go the stake."

    It was an interesting choice for Gregory to approach this volume of her Tudor chronicles through a fictional, outside character. I don't know why she chose to do this, rather than simply tell the story of Queen Mary through the Queen herself, using Mary's voice to narrate. Perhaps then she might have been able to really delve into her heart and understand her actions. Mary's story is a tragic one indeed -- it has an almost Cinderella quality, and it would have been astonishing if Gregory had managed to turn her into a truly sympathetic character, and let us see how the neglected daughter of a betrayed monarch became one of history's most notorious figures.

    Had she done so, Gregory would have been able to save her other, better story, and give it the separate book it so richly deserved. Hannah's tale would have made an excellent bit of historical fiction in its own right. Not only would we be given a glimpse into the ancient ways of book-making and printing, but we would have learned a lot more about how Jewish people managed to keep their faith and survive even after being tested over and over again by intolerance and bigotry. I was frustrated when the story veered away from this and back into the politics of courtly life, back into the ridiculous scenes of Hannah calling a queen by her first name and being treated as a senior advisor. I was also frustrated with the end of story, which doesn't wrap things up well. I was curious about the fate of several characters who disappeared without a trace.

    The only other thing to add is that as usual, Gregory's book is very repetitive. (Following in the footsteps of The Boleyn Inheritance and The Constant Princess.) Hannah reminds us every fifty pages or so that she is a Fool, a Christian pretending to be a Jew, a girl who is pretending to be a boy, a spy for the Dudleys pretending to be a spy for the Queen who is really a spy for Elizabeth and so on, ad nauseam. In spite of its flaws, I liked it a lot better than either of those books -- however, nothing compares to the excellence of The Other Boleyn Girl (Movie Tie-In), the first and best book I ever read by Gregory, which no work of hers since has managed to hold a candle to. But I'll keep the flame in my heart burning as I move on to the final book in the series, The Virgin's Lover, and hope for better things....more info
  • Nothing but.....
    This book is nothing but GOOD to the last page !!! Philippa Gregory is a superb writer she holds your interest all the way.
    My daughter and I are into reading all of her books concerning history and the Court of Henry VIII. If you like history I recommned this book. ...more info
  • Repetitive
    This was my first foray into the world of Philippa Gregory. I purchased this book primarily because I was going to be flying for 5 hours and thought this 500 page book would keep my mind occupied for a while.

    In general I enjoyed a great deal of the book. However, this could easily have been shortened by about 100 to 150 pages. There was a huge amount of repetitiveness in this book. As I read, I found conversations that had taken place pages ago were now being repeated. Certainly this book could have been edited better, but judging by the length of other Gregory books (which I've avoided in the past) this seems to be her writing style.

    I did like the character of Hannah very much, although her's is a completely implausible storyline. But I did find myself rooting for her and was pleased with the ending.

    I'm giving the book a 4 star rating, but it's really a 3 1/2 star book for me. I'm not sure If I should venture into reading any other books by Gregory, at least not for a while....more info
  • Really fantastic
    This one of my favorite books by Gregory and it adds an interesting touch after reading The Other Boleyn Girl and seeing the struggles between Elizabeth and Mary. It was really refreshing to see a different side of Mary portrayed other than the ruthless and demented side that most people would like to paint her as. I also really liked Hannah's personnal life story amidst the splendor and opulence of the Tudor reign. The only thing that I wish had been added was Hannah's visions and portrayals of the future....more info
  • Gregory Writes Another Winner!
    The Queen's Fool is another wonderful book by Philippa Gregory. She covers life among the royals under Queen Mary, and the conflict between Mary and Princess Elizabeth--mostly over religion, and who is most fit to wear the crown. Fascinating as always, this time period is beautifully detailed and researched by Gregory. If you have enjoyed some of her other books on this topic, this will not disappoint. Another interesting historical fiction! ...more info
  • Informational soap opera
    Phillipa Gregory gives you a lot of historical information. However, this novel was so redundant that she could have deleted more than 50 pages.

    It is a few steps highter than Danielle Steele....more info
  • Waste of Paper - We Should Save Trees!
    The purpose of historical fiction is to create believable characters that function within historical parameters, thus providing the reader with an intelligent, insightful story, as well as a history lesson. "The Queen's Fool" does neither. Hannah, while certainly a girl with an interesting past, would not be as headstrong and feministic as she is portrayed by Gregory. In the 1560s, such women simply did not exsit, and it is an anachronoism to pretend otherwise. Gregory's simplistic portrayal of Mary as a pius martyr and Elizabeth as a shrewd slut fails to bring the characters beyond the level of high school gossip. The book could have been written in 70 pages, instead we are forced to endure 400 pages of whinny, repetitive characterizations....more info
  • Not Gregory's Best
    I picked this book up with high hopes. I was, however, disappointed.

    Hannah Verde's mother is a victim of the Inquisition, and she and her father have run away from Castile to England, disguised as a bookseller and his apprentice.Hannah is also gifted with the Sight, the ability to see the future, and when John Dee of all people comes at her father's door, she is begged for a fool.

    The general summary makes you want to grab the book and start reading it immediately. I guess my main issue with The Queen's Fool was how nothing really seemed to fit together. And by "nothing" I mean the characters and the plot. The entire story was filled with contradictions that flawed the otherwise good narrative.Once Hannah is begged for a fool, she feels an attraction to Lord Robert that is something akin to a crush. Or maybe something more than a crush--but this crush makes her willing to leave her father and betrothed, and serve Lord Robert as his fool and maybe, just maybe, something more. Hannah's love for her master is never fully described; Robert Dudley's charm and good looks are clear throughout the entirety of the story, but besides that there isn't much of a reason for Hannah to leave her family for a man whose worth the reader can't exactly understand, especially since that same man threatened her (with she being a Jew in a Protestant country).

    Right before Robert Dudley is put in the Tower of London, he sends Hannah to spy on Princess Mary, later to be queen. Hannah respects and admires her mistress, and has open disdain for Protestantism, which is rather strange considering that she is a converso Jew. It wasn't the virtuous, pitiable picture of Queen Mary that I disliked, for I am neither on Team Anne or Team Katherine, but Hannah's view of the woman made no sense. And even though she loves her queen and mistress, she is still very attached to Lord Robert, who sits in the Tower, waiting for his execution. And I still don't understand why she loves Lord Robert so much, either.

    Then, all of a sudden, Queen Mary sends Hannah to her sister, Princess Elizabeth.I Elizabeth was portrayed correctly; she wasn't a saint, but she wasn't totally evil either. It seemed, at least to me, that Gregory didn't really side with Elizabeth or Mary--they seemed to be portrayed equally. But then again, all of a sudden Hannah, who just can't seem to make up her mind, is ditching her dad and fiance to join Elizabeth in the Tower, in her "time of need." This really puzzled me, because honestly--what has Elizabeth, Mary, OR Robert ever done for this poor Jewish girl, who deserves to have a life NOT based on their means?

    But it was the main character, the narrator, Hannah that annoyed me most. All her desires lay in the Tudor court, causing her to hurt her father, her fiance and his family. Her fiance also baffled me. He was very inconsistent, ordering her around in a very misogynistic manner, and then being passionately in love with her the next. The former made sense, but the latter did not. It seemed as if the only love between the two was one that of a pair of teenagers giving into their hormones. There didn't seem to be any genuine liking.

    I was expecting a lot about Hannah being a Jew and how it affected the plot as well as her persona. But the only memories of Spain she has is that of her mother, who died for her religion--and yet, here's Hannah, caught up in the intrigues of the Tudor court, which is all terribly self-contradictory. I think the only reason she was so involved in the Tudor court was for, well, the Tudors: that is, for the readers to learn about the Tudors through the eyes of a Jew who isn't really a Jew. It was a great idea, but it was just very messy. The whole idea had extreme potential, but Hannah was just a very incomprehensible character. It was hard to tell what she was and what she wasn't. The beginning hundred pages are enjoyable, but the goodness of the novel disintegrates after that....more info
  • THERE IS NO FOOL LIKE THE QUEEN'S FOOL...
    This best selling English author of historical fiction has written yet another interesting work. This novel takes place during the reign of Mary Tudor, daughter of King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. She would leave a legacy that would cause her to be known as "Bloody Mary" for her burning of heretics.

    The narrator is a girl named Hannah Green, a young teenager who has fled Spain and its Inquisition with her father, following the death of her mother. She had been burned alive at the stake as a heretic, when it was discovered that she was a "Marrano", a false Christian, that is, a Jew who has converted to Christianity but who follows the Jewish faith in secret.

    Landing in London, where her father opens a book store, Hannah makes the acquaintance of a handsome rake, Sir Robert Dudley, who discovers that Hannah has the gift of sight. She develops a personal relationship with him that eventually sees her enter into Queen Mary's service as her fool. Hannah serves Queen Mary, but at the same time, is sent by the Queen to serve her half-sister the Princess Elizabeth and spy upon her.

    Meanwhile, Sir Robert Dudley also uses Hannah in his treasonous plot to see the Princess Elizabeth on the throne of England. So, Hannah finds herself walking a dangerous tightrope and is fearful of discovery of her role in the political intrigues that are welling around her, as well as discovery of her own background, which would be grounds for death. Her worst fears are nearly realized when the Queen marries Prince Phillip of Spain.

    In the midst of all this political intriguing that appears to be going on all around her, Hannah has her own immediate future to think about, as she becomes betrothed to another Marrano such as herself. Infatuated with Lord Dudley, loyal to both Queen Mary and the clever and manipulative Princess Elizabeth, Hannah finds herself putting her own future happiness at risk amidst the political and religious turmoil of the time.

    This is a fast paced, breezy read about an independent, young woman who finds herself at a crossroad in her life and begins a voyage of self-discovery that will ultimately change her life. The story takes place in sixteenth century England, amidst all the political strife and religious upheaval of the time. The author weaves an intriguing tapestry of historical events and personages together with the intrigues that were rife in the Tudor court of the Queen who would become known as Bloody Mary. ...more info
  • Not Gregory's Best
    I picked this book up with high hopes. I was, however, disappointed.

    Hannah Verde's mother is a victim of the Inquisition, and she and her father have run away from Castile to England, disguised as a bookseller and his apprentice.Hannah is also gifted with the Sight, the ability to see the future, and when John Dee of all people comes at her father's door, she is begged for a fool.

    The general summary makes you want to grab the book and start reading it immediately. I guess my main issue with The Queen's Fool was how nothing really seemed to fit together. And by "nothing" I mean the characters and the plot. The entire story was filled with contradictions that flawed the otherwise good narrative.Once Hannah is begged for a fool, she feels an attraction to Lord Robert that is something akin to a crush. Or maybe something more than a crush--but this crush makes her willing to leave her father and betrothed, and serve Lord Robert as his fool and maybe, just maybe, something more. Hannah's love for her master is never fully described; Robert Dudley's charm and good looks are clear throughout the entirety of the story, but besides that there isn't much of a reason for Hannah to leave her family for a man whose worth the reader can't exactly understand, especially since that same man threatened her (with she being a Jew in a Protestant country).

    Right before Robert Dudley is put in the Tower of London, he sends Hannah to spy on Princess Mary, later to be queen. Hannah respects and admires her mistress, and has open disdain for Protestantism, which is rather strange considering that she is a converso Jew. It wasn't the virtuous, pitiable picture of Queen Mary that I disliked, for I am neither on Team Anne or Team Katherine, but Hannah's view of the woman made no sense. And even though she loves her queen and mistress, she is still very attached to Lord Robert, who sits in the Tower, waiting for his execution. And I still don't understand why she loves Lord Robert so much, either.

    Then, all of a sudden, Queen Mary sends Hannah to her sister, Princess Elizabeth.I Elizabeth was portrayed correctly; she wasn't a saint, but she wasn't totally evil either. It seemed, at least to me, that Gregory didn't really side with Elizabeth or Mary--they seemed to be portrayed equally. But then again, all of a sudden Hannah, who just can't seem to make up her mind, is ditching her dad and fiance to join Elizabeth in the Tower, in her "time of need." This really puzzled me, because honestly--what has Elizabeth, Mary, OR Robert ever done for this poor Jewish girl, who deserves to have a life NOT based on their means?

    But it was the main character, the narrator, Hannah that annoyed me most. All her desires lay in the Tudor court, causing her to hurt her father, her fiance and his family. Her fiance also baffled me. He was very inconsistent, ordering her around in a very misogynistic manner, and then being passionately in love with her the next. The former made sense, but the latter did not. It seemed as if the only love between the two was one that of a pair of teenagers giving into their hormones. There didn't seem to be any genuine liking.

    I was expecting a lot about Hannah being a Jew and how it affected the plot as well as her persona. But the only memories of Spain she has is that of her mother, who died for her religion--and yet, here's Hannah, caught up in the intrigues of the Tudor court, which is all terribly self-contradictory. I think the only reason she was so involved in the Tudor court was for, well, the Tudors: that is, for the readers to learn about the Tudors through the eyes of a Jew who isn't really a Jew. It was a great idea, but it was just very messy. The whole idea had extreme potential, but Hannah was just a very incomprehensible character. It was hard to tell what she was and what she wasn't. The beginning hundred pages are enjoyable, but the goodness of the novel disintegrates after that....more info
  • The Other Boleyn Girl is Better
    Gregory's writing is beautiful but the main character, Hannah, is an idiot. I know Gregory wanted to create Hannah as a "fool" in her personal life as well as life at court, but she so truly ridiculous that she is unrealistic. I loved the entire book except "Hannah". If you can get past her ongoing and very annoying crush on an unattainable older man and her unfathomable way of constantly putting herself and her family in mortal danger for no real reason, then you might like it. "The Other Boleyn Girl" is much, much better. ...more info
  • "May you live in interesting times".....
    some think that living in interesting times is a curse rather than a blessing and for the narrator of this novel, Hannah Green, the times were far too interesting. As the story opens Hannah is about ten years old but she had already seen her mother burned at the stake by the Inquisition, fled with her father from Spain, through Portugal and France to England smuggled from one community of secret Jews to the next. When Hannah inadvertently reveals her gift of Sight she is placed in the Royal Court officially as a fool to young King Edward but really as a spy for the ambitious Dudley family. Hannah finds herself thrust into the dangerous world of international politics as the throne of England is fought over by Henry VIII's children and others. She finds her loyalties torn between Catholic Mary and Protestant Elizabeth even though she realizes that either would condemn Hannah and her family to the fires as a heretic. In addition her father has arranged a marriage for her to a suitable young man, Daniel, but both Hannah and Daniel have doubts about the match.

    This is very like Gregory's better known work, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, in that it breathes life into this intriguing period by using a combination of established fact and fictional events and characters. Hannah is a completely fictional character although communities of Jews existed at the time scattered throughout Europe, hiding from persecution. The story of how Hannah manages to carve a place for herself in this inhospitable environment makes for a compelling and enjoyable read but it is not without flaws. Despite being the main character Hannah is not very well drawn. She develops strong attachments to the Dudley family and to bother Mary and Elizabeth even though she is aware that anyone of them would betray her and her family if it suited their interests. Incredibly she attempts to serve all three factions even knowing that they are all in direct opposition. These conflicting loyalties, her ambivalence about her heritage and uncertainty about her personal life all leave Hannah as a shadowy, rather cardboard character.

    Overall though this is an interesting tale about a turbulent time. Gregory has managed to introduce new viewpoints into this often visited period of European history. Fans of Gregory's other works or those interested in Tudor England in general would find this an enjoyable novel. ...more info
  • It was a good idea anyway. , , ,
    I'll be honest - I'm a "fool" for anything that has the words, Jew, Jewish, 16 century, Tudor, Queen Mary I, Queen Elizabeth I - and the description of this book had it ALL. Yay!; and in addition, I found it for a great price. Saddly, I recieved what I payed for. It seemed like Ms. Gregory could be a good author, but she may be a poor recreator of personality. I didn't like any of the characters in this story - but Mary I, it was nice to see her in a positive way, I guess? I hated her portrail of Queen Elizabeth and I really did not care for the main girl, Hannah, a spanish Converso. She seemed like a real stretch to put into this story - as were most of the siruations in the book. I know this is fiction, but it is HISTORICAL fiction, I expected of realism. Also, I went into this book really hoping to identify with Hannah on some Jewish sort of level at least - bubkus. Oh well, at least Ms. Gregory gave some nice discriptions of things.

    Buy this book if you have no idea of who Queen Elizabeth and Mary are. Buy this book if you have no idea of Jewish culture and what a "Converso" was and how they would feel/act. Buy this book if you can find it cheap and want a dull read. What ever you do don't buy this book and expect to take something away with you.
    ...more info
  • Why the bad reviews?
    Philippa Gregory is great...and this book is no exception. Dismayed by the bad reviews, I read the next book-Virgin's Lover. These two books are very different, and you'll probably like one more than the other. Queen's Fool is more character-based on Hannah's life. There are about 100 pages solely devoted to Hannah without any court intrigue (which many people enjoyed in Other Boleyn's Girl/why they think its boring). There is also a lot about the battle of Calais, which may be boring to some (I liked it). The book consists of little snapshot incidents, like the Spanish king insulting the English, etc.

    The Virgin's Lover, on the other hand, has a lot more court/romance than this book. It centers more around Elizabeth and her affair with Robert Dudley. To me, I got tired of hearing about them sneaking around-we got it the first 20 times, Philippa! That part was very similar to OBG. The Virgin's Lover also has more foreign policy/what to do in this war/secret plotting. The Queen's Fool is not all about the secret dealing-Hannah's only privy to what part she and her lord play in the deal, and what the public knows.

    To the other reviewer who commented about Elizabeth at 14-I agree with you to some extent, but readers shouldn't be dismayed by it. The incident is only about the first three to five pages (really!). It's not a major point in a book of about 500 pages.

    In short, do not pass over this book!! Even if only to read them in order, you'll enjoy this book!...more info
  • Excellent Purchase!
    Excellent purchase. Book arrived promptly and in excellent condition. Pleasure doing business with seller. Thank you!...more info
  • Good read spoiled by revisionism gone too far
    In THE QUUEN'S FOOL, Philippa Gregory lets her bias against the Boleyns, beginning to develop in THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL with her portrayal of Anne, run riot against her famous and extraordinary daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I. Now, revisionist history can be valuable and necessary, as well as making for fun reading, but only if it's believable and if the author's prejudices are veiled sufficiently that they don't poison the narrative. In this novel, Gregory unsheathes her fangs and the result is toxic.

    Other reviewers have discussed the basic elements of the plot, so I won't waste my time on them. Instead, I want to discuss what it was that made me ultimately reject and dislike what was otherwise a well-written and engaging novel. Part of the problem involves, again as others have pointed out, that it's simply not credible that a young Jewish girl from Spain (the fictional protagonist, Hannah Green) whose mother was burned alive before her eyes, would continue to love and admire Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) after she has brought that same Inquisition to England and embarked on the signature act of reign, the torture and burning of 300-some "heretics" (Protestants and other "unbelievers).

    But where Gregory completely falters is in her harsh portrait of the Princess Elizabeth, first seen at the age of 14, through Hannah's judgmental eyes, as a sort of Lolita-ish bad seed, seducing her poor, innocent stepfather Thomas Seymour, twenty years older and married to Katherine Parr (Henry VIII's last wife who survived to marry again for love). I thought this view of teenage victims of sexual abuse went out in the 1950's.

    And let's be clear: that's what this is: sexual abuse, well-documented in the historical record. Gregory gives us a most selective view of what went on and leaves out some crucial incidents. For instance, one time Katherine (Parr) Seymour restrained Elizabeth while her husband used his dagger to cut Elizabeth's gown off her in 100 pieces. This was a familiar sex game between adults in the harsh world of the London streets, but hardly something a 14-year-old girl would initiate or enjoy. Seymour also would come into Elizabeth's bedroom early in the morning wearing only his nightshirt, while she was still in bed, and would threaten to join her in the bed and try to kiss her. Elizabeth, in self-defense, took to rising earlier so that she was up and dressed by the time Seymour came to her room.

    Yet Gregory shows us only a young seductress enjoying the kisses and touches of her dupe of a stepfather. Anyone who's seen even a few episodes of "Law and Order SVU," or any other crime drama over the past twenty years, will recognize Seymour for the classic case of abusive stepfather he was. As we now understand sexual abuse, the fact that a teenage victim might "enjoy" or even initiate some of the encounters doesn't make it any less abusive. That's the reason we have consent laws that make all acts between underage teens and adults a crime. Yes, this is a historical novel and people saw things differently then, but a novelist usually signals readers in some way that the views she's showing us are not her own, but are part of their own time and place. For example, in writing about slavery, an author might show that, while most characters accepted it as just or at least necessary, one character might voice doubts; or a particularly brutal case of punishment might be highlighted. Here, the only signal Gregory sends is that Elizabeth is at fault, that this first scene shows her adult character as a teasing bitch already established.

    Worst of all, Gregory leaves out the politics. As she has shown superbly in THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL and THE CONSTANT PRINCESS, as well as elsewhere in this novel, this was a period of unconcealed and treacherous scheming, enough even to make our current political climate look like "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" by contrast. Successful plotters survived to wield great power; the failures paid with their lives. Seymour was vying against his older brother, who was the young King Edward VI's guardian, for control of the royal heirs, and was eventually caught sneaking into Edward's bedroom late at night in an abduction attempt. There was a trial, and he was executed. It was at the trial that all the details of his behavior with Elizabeth came out, described by the servants who lived in the house. The Privy Council had passed a (sensible) law making it a crime for anyone to marry either Princess Elizabeth or Mary without the council's consent. After his wife died, Seymour had hoped to marry Elizabeth and gain control of both her and Edward. The failed abduction of the king focused attention on his abuse of Elizabeth, which would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Of course at that time the concept of "sexual abuse" as we know it did not exist, but even then no one believed that a 14-year-old girl bore all the blame for the behavior of a man twenty years her senior, from a family elevated to the highest rank by their connection with Jane Seymour, King Edward's mother (the Seymours were her brothers) and who was knowledgeable about the law and politics.

    So, ultimately, I found this aspect of the story infuriating and offensive, on both a personal level, as a former 14-year-old girl who remembers what it was like to have a crush on the high-school biology teacher, and on a historical level. I do think it's an interesting story overall and that Gregory is an excellent writer. But when it comes to reading a fictional account of Elizabeth's reign, I'm hoping to find a novel by another author that will include all the facts, not just those that speak to her biases. Any author will necessarily have opinions and a point of view, and if all I want is the facts, I should read a biography. But I worry that too many readers will take Gregory's portrait, as the person who loaned me her copy of this book did, by her own admission, at face value, and close their eyes to the realities of this complex, fascinating and extremely dangerous period of history. Elizabeth deserves better.
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  • Informational soap opera
    Phillipa Gregory gives you a lot of historical information. However, this novel was so redundant that she could have deleted more than 50 pages.

    It is a few steps highter than Danielle Steele....more info
  • A fool in every sense of the word...
    The Queen's Fool is the coming of age story of Hannah Green, a 14 year old Jewish girl, who lived during the time of the Inquisition. Hannah and her Father must flee Spain in order to avoid persecution, and wind up living in England. Hannah has the unique gift of "Sight", the ability to predict the future. When her talent is discovered by Robert Dudley, of the powerful Dudley family, Hannah finds herself "Begged as a Holy Fool" to the court of King Edward, and then his successor, Queen Mary. Hannah cares deeply for the Catholic Queen, but also admires the Queen's sister, the Protestant Princess Elizabeth. The two sisters are at odds with one another, for both political and religious reasons. Hannah is asked to spy for both sisters on different occasions, and her loyalties are divided. She makes some questionable decisions at times, and consequently, puts her Father, and the family of her betrothed, Daniel, at risk.

    There are situations in this novel that are far-fetched at times, but somehow it all works. (It is fiction, after all!) It is very interesting to view the relationship of Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth through the eyes of someone who cares for them both. Hannah's story is very intriguing as well. She is a young girl in search of a Mother figure, a home, love, and religious acceptance. In the beginning of the story, she seems lost, but through her experiences, and those of the royal sisters, Hannah discovers who she is, and the woman she wants to become.

    Overall, this book was very touching, and I found myself thinking about it for some time. Highly readable and recommended!! ...more info
  • Good Book!
    This is a really good book. Drags a bit in the middle but had a great ending and cant wait to read the next one!...more info
  • Unputtdownable despite it's flaws
    This is the story of a young girl, Hannah Green, from a Jewish family that hides their identity to escape persecution while secretly holding on to their faith and nationhood.
    Hannah and her father have come from Spain, where Hannah's mother was burned as one of the thousands of innocent victims of the Spanish Inquisition.
    Hannah has the gift of a seer. She is dressed as a boy in order to protect her, and soon comes to the attention of Lord Robert Dudley, who recruits her to the court of Queen Mary I of England as a 'fool'', but whose real task is as a spy. In the meantime Hannah is betrothed to Daniel, from an old Jewish family.
    She soon comes to love the Queen, which is a puzzle, as it was Bloody Mary who brought the Spanish Inquisition to England. The author's rewrite of history by her over-sympathetic portrayal of Queen Mary and her unflattering portrayal of Queen Elizabeth does not sit well with me.
    How can one sympathetically portray the Queen who burned thousands in order to force Roman Catholicism back onto England. And how can Hannah have been so devoted to the ruler who brought the brutal inquisition to England, after Hannah's mother was butchered by these same 16th century terrorists of Mary's ilk.
    It was Elizabeth who freed England from Mary's terror and was one of England's greatest rulers ever. Elizabeth presided over a golden age of peace, prosperity and culture.
    In fact history reveals that it was Mary who was utterly ruthless and had plnned to have Elizabeth killed, while Elizabeth had both judgement and the quality of mercy.
    It will not do to present Elizabeth as a scheming harlot. The author go's out of her way to explore the depth of Mary's character but does not do the same for Elizabeth.
    The author was also insufficiently sympathetic to Elizabeth, involving her seduction and exploitation by Thomas Seymour, when she was fourteen.

    Hannah comes across as intriguing, attractive, like-able and interesting. The element of the crypto-Jews or 'marannos' is of great interest to me.
    The book is a real page turner and fabulously written, despite the flaws I have highlighted.


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  • Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Phillipa Gregory has yet to disapoint me. I love all her books. I highly recommend them all!!!! ...more info
  • Good read, but tons of comma splices
    Except for the prologue, the novel is written in the first person, from Hannah Green's point of view. Hannah and her father are living in England, having fled there after Hannah's mother was burned during the Spanish Inquisition. Hannah helps her father in his bookshop and is betrothed to Daniel, another Jew, whose family helped her and her father get to and settle in England. Hannah has the Sight - she can sometimes see the future. Robert Dudley finds out and gives Hannah and her father little choice about Hannah moving to Kind Edward's court to be the King's holy fool.

    The novel follows Hannah as she spies for Robert Dudley and eventually Queen Mary. She becomes a close friend and confidant to Queen Mary, but she is also very drawn to Princess Elizabeth. We also observe how Hannah handles being in love with Dudley while betrothed to Daniel and how she deals with the fear of her faith being discovered after Queen Mary begins burning heretics.

    I really enjoyed this book. Hannah has flaws, as any well-written character should, and she does and says some unlikeable and sometimes arrogant things. Overall, though, she is a sympathetic, likeable character, and she clearly grows from a young, somewhat arrogant teenager into a more mature woman. She is a very caring woman, who prefers to befriend Mary and Elizabeth, rather than spy on them. I would have liked for the Sight to have been a bigger part of the book. Although the topic is often brought up, in actuality Hannah has relatively few visions of the future.

    I know little of the relationship between King Philip and Princess Elizabeth, so I can't speak to Philippa Gregory's portrayal of that aspect of the book. However, the rest of the history and the major players in the Tudor court described in the book are portrayed accurately. Some people may find Hannah too sympathetic to Queen Mary, given Mary's decreed burning of over 300 non-Catholics, but it's also clear that Hannah disapproves of this, and we are given reasons for her to be sympathetic to Mary. Personally, I found the portrayal of Elizabeth too harsh. Although Hannah is very drawn to Elizabeth's charisma, the future Queen generally comes across as unlikeable and completely ungenuine. This may be how most history books portray her, but the only biography of her that I've read, by Alison Weir, portrays Elizabeth more sympathetically.

    My main problem with the book is that the author constantly (i.e., multiple times per page) used commas when she should have used periods or semicolons. This could be the author's style, or perhaps that's how it's done in England, where the author lives, but I found it very irritating. Fortunately, the story is well-written enough that I was often distracted from the improper (at least in the U.S.) grammar.
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  • I really liked this.
    It's a good story; quite an interesting tale. Plus, you get a little refresher course in history without even realizing it!...more info
  • I really liked this.
    It's a good story; quite an interesting tale. Plus, you get a little refresher course in history without even realizing it!...more info
  • The Queen's Fool
    It is time for you to leave. The Inquisition is has started and they are looking for you. If you don't escape they will arrest and execute you for heresy. That is what life was like when Hannah Green's mother was killed for being a Jew in Spain. Once while she was working at her father's printing shop in England, some noblemen learned that Hannah had the Sight, which meant that she could see angels and see into the future. Hannah worked for the Mary from the time she became queen until right before she died. She had to go to Calais, where she married her betrothed, Daniel Carpenter. Soon after they separated because Hannah found out that while she was working for the queen he had a child with another woman. When the city was under siege by the French the mother of Daniel's son, Danny was killed. Hannah took the baby and brought him with her back to London. A few months later, Hannah, Daniel, and Danny reunited and became a happy family. I was very much intrigued while reading this exciting novel.

    I liked how the author wrote with great details. Lord Robert Dudley, one of the people Hannah served, was handsomely dress and had a thin, silver sword at his side. His eyes were dark and radiant. However, he looked old, tired, and full of melancholy while he was in the Tower for treason. Lord Robert's teacher, John Dee, had beep set eyes and pale skin. He was also courageous and extremely smart. Uriel the angel was dressed in shimmering white and silver. He shined so greatly that you could not see his face. Daniel Carpenter, Hannah's husband, had soft skin and a dark moustache and eyebrows. Queen Mary had dark brown and red hair. She had a square face and dark, Spanish eyes. She had a warm smile and had a sense of honesty and mercy around her.

    I also liked how there were many ups and downs throughout the novel. Daniel and Hannah had many arguments, but they would always make up. At one point they decided to release each other from their betrothal. They asked each other for forgiveness and makeup. Mary struggled to win back the throne when a man of nobility forced his son to marry Mary's cousin, Jane, who he forced to be queen. After she won and was crowned queen, there was a rebellion to try to put Elizabeth, Mary's half-sister on the throne.

    I thought it was very interesting that Hannah had so many secrets and was loyal to so many people even when some of the despised the other. Hannah promised her father that every once in a while she would come home from court and help him in the shop. She promised she would be Lord Robert's servant and carryout messages and run errands for him. Hannah became one of Queen Mary's favorites. The queen had asked Hannah to go to Elizabeth and keep her company as well as to spy on her. Hannah kept Elizabeth company during her stay in the Tower. She also made a promise to meet her father and Daniel in Calais.

    The thing that I liked most about the book was the tension and that many unexpected things occurred. Marry promised that she would never marry or have a man rule over her. However, she ended up marrying Philip of Spain. Hannah had a vision that Mary would have a son, but both of her pregnancies failed. Some of the people who played an important role of placing Mary on the throne turned around and led the unsuccessful uprising against her. Daniel and Hannah seemed so happy together until Hannah found out that Daniel lied to her and they refused to speak to each other. When Hannah was taken in for questioning she thought that someone found out she was a reformed Jew and would be burned for heresy. The French invaded Calais and Hannah took herself and Danny back to England, and never knew if Daniel was still alive. This novel is a fantastic example of historical fiction. I would especially recommend it to readers who are interested in Tudor family.


    -Kaitlyn L.

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  • Fluff reading
    I have to admit, this is not my favorite author. I tried to read one of her other books and was not able to finish it, and thats rare. This book was ok, even good, but dragged on and on @ times. And repeative!!! I have never seen the work 'Christindom' used so many times in a chapter, no less a book!
    This would be a good book to take to the lake when u would like nothing better think of then when ur gonna get up to get ur next drink, no thinking @ all involved to read this one! ...more info