[personal profile] niori_1709
For the most part, Philippa Gregory's books are told from the perspective pf the big historical characters- Mary Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves, etc. The main characters are true characters, which is part of the appeal of her books. That, however, is not always the case. Gregory's "The Queen's Fool" is that exception.

"The Queen's Fool" chronologically takes place after "The Boleyn Inheritance". While the book deals with the Tudor children, it's told through the eyes if the completely fictional Hannah Green. Years before the book began, Hannah and her father fled Spain in the wake of her mother's burning at the sake by the Inquisition (they're Jews). They run all the way to England, where they open a bookshop, and Hannah has the 'Sight', which allows her to see things- a scaffold behind a man who would hang a year later. On business, Lord Robert Dudley and John Dee (real people) see her, find out about her and recruit her to be their own spy. They send her into the court of Edward VI (Henry VIII's son with Jane Seymour) to spy on the Princess Mary (yep- that Mary). Hannah, while watching the historical events pass by - Edward's death, the nine days queen, Elizabeth's potential betrayal, Mary's cruelty- develops a close bond with Mary, and has a number of complicated relationships with Princess Elizabeth, Robert Dudley and even her own faith. The book follows the near end of Edward's reign to the fall of Calais, and all the world changing politics in between.

Hannah as a main character is interesting. She's a mass of contradictions, both rebelling and obey at different points. Hannah's mother was burned at the stake by religious fanatics, and yet she stands by Mary's side when she goes on her own inquisition. She's interesting because Gregory has so much leeway with her. She's not real, and neither were her family members, so there could be more creative licence taken. The love story she also finds herself in is also an interesting one, and it more than anything shows Hannah's character growth.

I liked Hannah and I liked the plot, but Gregory's crowning achievement with "The Queen's Fool" is the fact she managed to make the woman who went down in history as 'Bloody Mary' sympathetic. She makes you like Mary, even as you're horrified about what she's doing. Gregory portrays Mary as a fanatic and a woman drowning, a woman who's still suffering from what she went through as a child...a woman whose whole reign is a reaction to what was done to England because of Anne Boleyn. Mary is still a bad guy, but she's a sympathetic bad guy nonetheless. "The Queen's Fool" isn't my favourite Philippa Gregory novel, but I will agree that, for the sheer fact that an original character is in the lead, it makes it stand out from the rest.

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