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Queens Own Fool [Hardcover]

Jane Yolen
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 11 2002 Stuart Quartet
Nicola Ambruzzi, a poor traveling player, is an unlikely person to end up "fool"and friend to Mary Queen of Scots. But tumbling and clowning at court, she catches the young queen's eye and heart. As Mary is caught in the winds of fate--running from France to Scotland, confronted by rebellious lords and her unpredictable Scots, Nicola--Le Jardiniere--is there, buffeting and aiding the queen with her wit and wiles.

This epic adventure by Jane Yolen and Robert Harris takes us into the intimate circle of one of the most intriguing queens of all time, the courageous Mary Queen of Scots.

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From Amazon

"Where history ends, storytelling begins," writes Jane Yolen in her author's note to this exciting novel based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Only a few facts are known about Mary's young female jester, le Jardiniere, but Yolen and her collaborator, Scottish writer Robert Harris, have created a fascinating girl narrator based on this historical oddity. Le Jardiniere relates the true and tragic tale of the ill-fated 16th-century queen of Scotland.

In 1559, when a ragtag troupe of traveling entertainers is snatched from the sodden streets of Rheims to amuse the bored visiting French court, 13-year-old Nicola Ambruzzi impresses the queen with her wit and honesty. The beautiful young Mary takes the girl under her protection as "the queen's own fool," commissioned to speak the truth boldly amid the fawning lies and schemes of the courtiers. Around them swarm secret plots, duplicity, and betrayal; death is a constant threat.

After her weak boy-husband King Francis dies, the kindhearted Mary is unwilling to hear Nicola speak the truth about her suitors. She experiences two disastrous marriages, first with the handsome wastrel Darnley and then--for political expediency--with his murderer, the treacherous Bothwell. When he plots against her, she must flee back to Scotland to try to resume her throne in the midst of swirling conflict between the Protestant lords and their Catholic rulers. Nicola's wit and daring get them through some dangerous situations, but Mary is eventually imprisoned in the stark castle of Lochleven, where their hairsbreadth attempts at escape wind up a story from history as exciting and deeply affecting as any of Yolen's fantasy novels. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell

From Publishers Weekly

"La Jardini?re," one of the court jesters to Mary Queen of Scots, is the subject of this collaborative offering from veteran Yolen (Off We Go! and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, reviewed above) and Scottish debut author Harris. The resulting lengthy first-person novel will appeal to fans of historical sagas, but it lacks the emotional punch that would seem to accompany its interesting subject. A member of a slovenly traveling troupe, young Nicola performs for Queen Mary, wife of the newly crowned King Francis, in Rheims while the royal family mourns the death of Francis's father. Nicola's clever and fearless observations soon win the queen's favor as well as a place at her side: "I am sure it befits a nobleman of France to be to be grand in every sense," she quips, punning on their girth. Nicola remains loyal to the royal through the latter's two subsequent husbands (both nefarious), persecution for her Catholicism in a Protestant Scotland and the queen's being falsely accused of murder. While Nicola's wit sparkles, Mary remains an elusive character. At times the authors seem confined by the facts: several prolonged illness and escape sequences have very little effect on the story's outcome, and the numerous members of court may well blur together for readers. Unfortunately, the curious position of court jesters--intimates with royalty, yet never equals--is only hinted at and never fully explored. Ages 10-14. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Review May 24 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is one of the best books that i have read.while the story focuses on Mary queen of scots it also tells Nicola Ambruzzi's story.Nicola and Italian orphan finds her Uncle the lead fo Troupe Brufort. Nicola dances in Troupe Brufort and when Troupe Brufort arrives and entertain for Mary and her husband francis Mary is fascinated by Nicola partly because she made Francis laugh gives Nicola's uncle money so Mary can keep Nicola as her own fool. Though part of the story is fictional it tells the struggle of Mary Queen of scots leaving france,ruling scotland, and then escaping from scotland to save her own life. I think this book is a wonderful tale of Mary Queen of scots full of surprises happy and sad parts. I recommend this book to people who are interested in the Stuarts though Mary wasn't in the dyansty and to people who are interested in Mary Queen of Scots herself.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great March 1 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book was quite good, but quite lengthy. It seemed to go on longer than it needed to or started to soon, or maybe it just had to many details. Though it was very enticing, it was not a first pick. I have read other books by Yolen and have found she cannot find just the right length. Her books are good, but not quite right.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! April 29 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I bought this book not expecting much, just a week read. Instead I got a sensational book! Not only were the characters amusing, but they seemed like real people! (Okay, so a lot of them were. Jeesh, give me a break!) I almst felt that I knew Mary, Queen of Scots, if not only for a brief second. That is a hard thing to accomplish, and the author(s) did it perfectly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good bit of historical fiction... Jan. 11 2003
Format:Hardcover
While not extroadinary, this book definitely stands out as a good, solid story for anyone interested in this time period. It might help if you've studied it a bit as well; while I consider myself a fairly informed history buff, this particular point in history was not one I'd studied in the past, so some of it went over my head a bit. Still, I enjoyed the main and supporting characters immensely, and the plot was full of exactly the sort of court intrigue I love.
Nicola, an orphan living with a group of street performers headed by her often abusive uncle, never expected to be anything but what she is. Thus she is quite surprised when the young queen Mary is so charmed by her antics that she immediately frees her from her uncle, in exchange for her becoming her own personal fool.
Though it tends to move a bit slowly at times, in the end the reward is worth it. Like I said, this book is truly good, recommendable to anyone twelve on up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book to keep forever Nov. 5 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I got this book and could hardly put it down for the next three days. "Queen's Own Fool" is about a young girl, Nicola, who just happens to meet Mary Stuart. Nicola is a traveling performer and then becomes Queen Mary's fool. Nicola follows the Queen everywhere, including into imprisonment. She is there when Francis, Mary's husband and good friend, dies to comfort her. She travels to Scotland and reminds the Queen that she is only mortal. Nicola befriends few people, but the ones she does meet prove to be more that true friends. This book had me laughing at nine-thirty at night and practically crying an hour later. I would definatly recommend this book to anyone who is the least bit interested in Tudor England or Mary, Queen of Scots. I would also recommend "Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen Without A Country" too. This book may seem a bit large for some younger readers, but don't stress, it will end when it ends. When I finished, I practically started to cry because I of what happens to Nicola and the Queen. Nowing the end of Mary's life didn't help at all either. Read this book if you want to be touched deeply. Some might not like it, but I was searching for a good book at Mary, Queen of Scots, and this was just what I was looking for. This could be read by a reader as young as eight and up. I am not sure if younger readers would be able to understand some of the words or be able to read such a long book, but if you might read it to a young person, but explanation might be needed. I WILL NEVER BOOK THIS BOOK IN A BOX AND THROW IT INTO THE BASEMENT, GARAGE, OR SHED. A MAGNIGICENT READ!!!!!!!!!!!1
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4.0 out of 5 stars From the eyes of a fool Sept. 21 2002
By Maryam
Format:Paperback
Nicola Ambruzzi's parents died when she was young and she was adopted into her uncle's travelng performances. Her Uncle was cruel to all of his children, but most cruel to Nicola, for she was adopted into the perfomance crew. One day, at the most important event for the traveling crew, at the Palace in Rheims, where the crew was to entertain Queen Mary and King Francis, Nicola had a few run-ins with the Queen Mary herself. Queen Mary found Nicola witty and entertaining, so she bought her from Uncle as her own fool. For the first few months as fool, everything went perfect for Nicola, but the turning point was when King Francis died, and it was decided for Queen Mary to leave France and live in Scotland. From then on, the story became more and more depressing for the Queen and for Nicola, who was always behind the Queen. From the awful husband, Darnley, who was murdered, to the Queen's imprisonment...This book was true to history and was fun to read, but I don't think Queen Mary would have been such a kind soul.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A story about friendship...
This book was chosen to be on the Interscholastic Reading Compeitition high school list for my area this year. Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2002 by Brian Emling
4.0 out of 5 stars Three and a half...starts slow but gets better
I've been on a Tudor reading binge lately, and this teen novel about Mary Queen of Scots is part of it. Read more
Published on June 29 2002 by Kelly (Fantasy Literature)
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT BOOK
This book is amazing, fun to read and packed with historical information. (although, some of the info may be questionable) I sincerely recommend this book to ANYONE who knows how... Read more
Published on June 13 2002 by Sarah D.
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is da bomb
I think that this book is the best book I've ever read. I love the author's style and everything about the book. Read more
Published on March 4 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
I really enjoyed this excellent read! The heroine was likable, as were most of the other characters. Read more
Published on March 1 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars FABULOUS story of a female fool!
I portray a female court jester with a reenactment troupe in Williamsburg (VA) and bought this book in order to gain some insight to my character. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2002 by Tamara J. Eastman
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
An enjoyable read. With historical fiction there will always be those who question the accuracy of the work, this book is no exception. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2001
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