Throwback Thursday involves me picking a book I’ve previously read to talk about, today I’m going to discuss The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory.
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.
This is my favourite book by Philippa Gregory & it was the book I took with me to get signed when I got to meet her a couple of summers ago; the reason this is my favourite Gregory novel is because it shows the two Tudor Queens in both a positive & a negative light. A lot of the time, historical fiction set in the Tudor era seems to favour either Elizabeth or Mary, whilst demonising the other; but The Queen’s Fool didn’t do that & I loved it.
The main character of this book is totally fictional, (although there was a female Fool at court during this time period) so Philippa was able to make Hannah into anything she wanted; by doing this she was able to create a character who loved both of the Queens, whilst also seeing their bad sides as well. Hannah’s own story is also really interesting & super emotional, & to be honest I would love a book just about her & her family! The Queen’s Fool see’s Hannah build relationships with both Elizabeth & Mary, & it was really fun to experience the Queens in this way. For once it didn’t feel like I was being told or influenced to like one & hate the other, so I was able to focus on the history & drama of court, rather than trying to decide which Queen was in the right, & which was in the wrong. Hannah’s relationships with both of the Queens allows us to see the heartbroken side of Mary & the sick side of Elizabeth, whilst also showing the admiration the people had for the Queens, & also their fear.
The Queen’s Fool is a very different fictional Tudor book from any other that I’ve read & I love the idea & sentiment behind it; when I told Philippa that this was my favourite book by her she was really happy because she really enjoyed being able to write about both the Queens in a super honest way. If you love both Mary & Elizabeth then this is the book for you.