Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Fight For Your Birthright

"For most of my life I have been adored by fools and hated by people of good sense, 
and they all make up stories about me in which I am either a saint or a whore. 
But I am above these judgments, 
I am a Queen."
--Philippa Gregory, The Other Queen


Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 438
Publication Date: September 16th, 2008
Source: Bought
Previous Books in Series: The Constant Princess & The Other Boleyn Girl & The Boleyn Inheritance & The Queen's Fool & The Virgin Queen 
*Can all be read as standalones*
Goodreads Description

Two women competing for a man's heart.
Two queens fighting to the death for dominance.
The untold story of Mary, Queen of Scots.
This dazzling novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents a new and unique view of one of history's most intriguing, romantic, and maddening heroines. Biographers often neglect the captive years of Mary, Queen of Scots, who trusted Queen Elizabeth's promise of sanctuary when she fled from rebels in Scotland and then found herself imprisoned as the "guest" of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick.

The newly married couple welcome the doomed queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court. To their horror, they find that the task will bankrupt them, and as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Elizabeth, their loyalty to each other and to their sovereign comes into question. If Mary succeeds in seducing the earl into her own web of treachery and treason, or if the great spymaster William Cecil links them to the growing conspiracy to free Mary from her illegal imprisonment, they will all face the headsman.

Philippa Gregory uses new research and her passion for historical accuracy to place a well-known heroine in a completely new tale full of suspense, passion, and political intrigue. For years, readers have clamored for Gregory to tell Mary's story, and The Other Queen is the result of her determination to present a novel worthy of this extraordinary heroine.
Mary

After being obsessed with Reign, I figured I should finally read The Other Queen because it's been sitting on my shelf forever. Not gonna lie, I had no idea going into it that I was getting a book about her imprisonment and NOT her courtship and life in France. Dammit. Oh, well. Regardless, I loved reading Mary, Queen of Scots, point of view. That was hands down the best part of the book for me. She is fierce and fiery and sassy. She is manipulative and clever. She is brilliant in her game of court politics and knows how to play each man like a fiddle. It was absolutely brilliant to be honest. Her desire to be free was justifiable and understandable. The fact that Elizabeth actually had the audacity to keep a Queen imprisoned this long is unbelievable. I cannot believe this was allowed and more rebellion didn't occur. She was an anointed Queen and her own cousin and just because she was a jealous, insecure bitch she had to overpower her. It really made me dislike Elizabeth and now I need to read a really good biography in order to get the bad taste out of my brain about her. Ugh. What a jealous cow.

The Wardens

Mary's isn't the only POV we get. Her jailers are the Earl of Shrewsberry and his wife Bess. Bess came from nothing and George is her fourth husband. She married herself up the chain of power and is now living comfortably with a fortune of her own which is all she really cares about. Her husband is an earl, comes from a long standing family of nobility and is extremely honorable. I really liked George. He strived to always do what was right by his Queen...both of them, wink wink. He become close with Mary and just wants to see Elizabeth do right by her. What I loved is that he never did waver in his duty. He fell in love with Mary but his duty was always to Elizabeth because she is Queen. I really admired this about him and never faulted him. He was a great character to read about and who knew men like him actually existed in Elizabethan England. Bess...ugh. Bess is gross. All she cares about is money and her fortune and her ledgers of bills and finances. She made me sick half the time and then you add in she was BFFs with Cecil, another upstart, ugh, I hated the lot of them. Cecil is so manipulative and greedy and this book just made me dislike him so much because who the hell do you think you are? He basically ran the country and manipulated Elizabeth into exactly what he wanted. I was annoyed because I know there was no way around the end result of what happened 400 years ago.

The Ending

Well, okay, I didn't like the ending because I knew what was coming the whole time and I hated knowing the whole way through. However, this is a testament to Gregory's writing that I became so invested in Mary's story that I wanted so badly for her to rewrite history and give her another ending. It is the only time besides any book I read about Anne Boleyn that I wish history had ended up differently. I loved Mary and I think she got such a raw deal in her life. It wasn't fair and I wish things had ended up differently for her. I truly feel she, like Anne Boleyn, were wronged by the people around them but hey...I think history was able to repay them with their children because just like how Anne Boleyn's daughter ended up with the crown of England most successfully of all Henry's children, James ended up taking Elizabeth's crown after her death anyways...funny how things like that work out, isn't it?


The Pacing

While I really enjoyed reading about Mary and her struggles, there were parts of the plot that really dragged for me. I get you want to be free and I get this is historically accurate with all the back and forth of plots and he said, she said but it got a little old after a while. I would have really liked to see the story be developed over her entire imprisonment because I felt like it just ended really abruptly and then we get the final chapter 10 years later on her execution date...it was like, wait what just happened. I really wanted to read about exactly what plot and what she did to actually end up on the chopping block, pun intended.


General Admission
It was good, I enjoyed reading it. I loved Mary's POV but there were parts that got a little stale and dragged on a bit.

3 comments:

  1. I would suggest you do read some proper biographies as follow up, just as you mention in the post :D Otherwise you will have a bad opinion on Elizabeth, the same way people who loved The Other Boleyn Girl, hated Anne Boleyn. Philippa Gregory is by no means the most reliable source and she does create some pretty biased pieces...Personally, I cannot stand her writing style, too.

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  2. Ah, Philippa Gregory! I used to read her novels all the time, and loved them for what they were. I'm totally curious about how I would feel about them now (and plan to read and reread them this year). I think her historical fiction can be totally fun to read, though not always written in a way that's easy to read.

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  3. I bought this one when I went crazy and got all the books in the Tudor series... Of course, I have yet to read any of them. They're on my list for this year though and IT WILL HAPPEN. Then we can discuss. Boo to imprisonment though! I was totally expecting something more Reign-ish with this one. Haha!

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