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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Philippa Gregory book!
This book tells the interesting story of 2 sisters who are rivals, Queen Mary who is catholic and Elizabeth I who is protestant. Told from the interesting view of a jewish servant girl who loves both of them. Fast moving, couldn't put it down, my favorite Philippa Gregory book.
Published on July 24 2008 by Laurie N. Gayne

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A misfire from one of my favorite authors
I will discuss major plot points for The Queen's Fool and give very minor spoilers for a few other Gregory works in this review. If this bothers you, please do not read further.
Like many readers, I first found Gregory through her absolutely stellar The Other Boleyn Girl. I am not a Tudor scholar, but the world of paranoia and political machinations felt absolutely...
Published on July 15 2004 by marcinetta


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A misfire from one of my favorite authors, July 15 2004
I will discuss major plot points for The Queen's Fool and give very minor spoilers for a few other Gregory works in this review. If this bothers you, please do not read further.
Like many readers, I first found Gregory through her absolutely stellar The Other Boleyn Girl. I am not a Tudor scholar, but the world of paranoia and political machinations felt absolutely correct. Gregory is a very skilled writer, and, not incidentally, writes romance and intimate scenes with impressive economy and impact. I hunted down and read many Gregory books, many of which are out of print (though the superbly demented Wideacre and its two inferior sequels have been reprinted). I learned several things about the author Gregory. She has a good handle on history, and has the very rare talent of writing about historic people and events without essentially regurgitating the half-digested mental contents of a three-month library trip onto the page, as so many historical novelists who write about feisty gals are wont to do. As I mentioned earlier, she writes about sex and love in an involving and, yes, titillating manner. She does not impose artificial "happy" endings and she is happy to write about flawed, even despicable women (and men, though most of her main characters are women, with the delightful exception of John Tradescant in Earthly Joys) as opposed to the Rhodes Scholars of historic fiction. (Their only flaw? They're stubborn! Arggh! See: Pope Joan, Year of Wonders, to name two.) And she has an odd fondness for writing about people who are not at the center of things, but just off-center. The Other Boleyn Girl, of course, is a shining and beautifully executed example of this.
So I was obviously transported with delight when I saw The Queen's Fool in paperback; even its cover was reminiscent of The Other Boleyn Girl. The Queen's Fool certainly opens with a bang, no pun intended, and I was waiting for the book to be great. Well - it wasn't. The tension and lust and mild historic elaboration in the first chapter? That was the high point.
The main character in this book is a young Jewish girl named Hannah Green (or Hannah Verde.) In an intriguing touch of the fantastic, Hannah is psychic. She, together with her father, is fleeing the Inquisition in Spain, which has claimed her mother. Hannah is also extremely well educated, which is understandable, since her father is a bookseller and Jews tended to be more literate in that time period on average. However, as I continued to read, Hannah's tale failed to grab me. Hannah is engaged to a nice Jewish boy, but she's in lust with the very hot Robert Dudley. And she wears boy's clothing, which she apparently continues to wear through most of the book.
(Please, girlfriend!)
Gregory plays around with Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, making the first sympathetic (at least at first) and the second kind of a bitch, but a charming one. She's at her best when writing about the queens. But Hannah - I was surprised to see it - she's dull. And her story line is shockingly treacly, especially for Gregory. The nice Jewish boy? She kind of falls for him and they have a nice sensible relationship based on respect. Think she has any real conflicts with her dad because she's a secret Jew at court? Well, he frets a lot, but that's about it. He doesn't even really mention her boy's clothing. Oh, and then he conveniently dies. Is Hannah witness to all the upheaval of court? Some of it. Then she goes to Calais and kind of hangs out for the last third of the novel. As the novel progressed, I kind of got the idea that Hannah, quite honestly, wasn't that important except for the fact that some important people liked her. There is no real dramatic payoff to her personal relationships. Heck, she even has fewer psychic flashes as the novel continues.
So is it at least romantic and/or sexy? Does she get into a hot steamy affair with the forbidden Robert Dudley, whom she mopes about for much of the book? Well, sorry to break it to you, but no. In fact, even though Daniel and Hannah are supposedly hot for each other, do we get a payoff when they finally get together? No. And why the kid? WHY THE KID? Geez, I thought I was reading the 16th century X-Files for a moment! It's not like I need every Gregory main character to be a sociopath, but who is this treacly, perfect, boring girl, and why is Gregory writing about her?
However, Gregory's other strengths are on display - good historic knowledge, seamless writing, and general page-turning inducement. It's not a terrible book, and it's certainly better than 90 percent of historic fiction. Still, I know from my reading of Gregory's oeuvre that she's an intriguing but uneven writer. This is one of the (relative) duds. Come on, Philippa, buck up - I know you've got it in you!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Philippa Gregory book!, July 24 2008
By 
Laurie N. Gayne (Toronto, ON) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book tells the interesting story of 2 sisters who are rivals, Queen Mary who is catholic and Elizabeth I who is protestant. Told from the interesting view of a jewish servant girl who loves both of them. Fast moving, couldn't put it down, my favorite Philippa Gregory book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and captivating, July 24 2008
By 
Toni Osborne "The Way I See It" (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
The story is told from Hannah Green's perspective, a young Jewish girl who flees Spain with her father to escape persecution and lands in England. Hannah is a seer and has visions, a sought after talent during the troubled times for the Tudor court, she first serves King Edward, then his sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, as a holy fool. She is also a vassal to Robert Dudley who she adores. This is a very dangerous time where every action is under scrutiny and many lives are in peril due to laws against heresy, treason and witchcraft. Hannah must choose between the safe life as a commoner or being part of the extravagant life the royal family.

This novel is fast-paced, interesting and captivating from start to finish. It is clear that Ms Gregory has a talent for writing entertaining historical fiction, with engaging narrative. Her characters are seemly woven between actual and fictional ones, with all their flaws and weaknesses. The heart of this novel is the reign of Bloody Mary, Queen of England seen through the sympathetic eyes of a young woman. This is a fresh portrayal of familiar figures and a new perspective on a dark period of England's history. Serious history buffs may not like this novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner, one of my favourites!, Feb. 12 2009
By 
Krista Lyne (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
"The Other Boleyn Girl" was my first Philippa Gregory book that I read and I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd go on to read more of her books, and I was glad I did. "The Queen's Fool" is another one of my favorites now. Although this book is more fiction than historical it was still a great read that I would recommend to anyone. Phillipa Gregory did a very good job creating the character Hannah the fool, you really believe as though you are there with her going through her life experiences. Very well done and packed with adventure!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just Wonderful, July 3 2004
This is another book by Philippa Gregory that occurs in the Tudor era. I won't really explan the plot because other reviewers already have quite well. I will just add my ten cents.
I have always sympathized with Mary I because of how maligned she is. She had a horrible childhood. Raised believing that she would be Queen of England, then a little baby, Elizabeth takes her place. She is bastardized, disgraced and motherless by the end of Anne Boleyn's queenship. Everyone always just assumes that she was a cruel person because of how many people she burned. In this book, Mary is given a sympathetic look as well. She is kind and Hannah is devoted to her. She loves her husband, but her younger, beautiful sister takes all of his love.

Lots of books show Elizabeth as a virgin. I have always wondered, what if she weren't? What if she were just not able to conceive? In this wonderful novel, the first chapter shows Elizabeth panting with lust and desire for Thomas Seymour. Elizabeth liked other women's husbands, and she didn't mind becoming Mary's husband's mistress. I think that Elizabeth liked feeling more desirable than other women. Being a wife just wasn't for her. Though Elizabeth does seem likeable in this book, Philippa Gregory makes her seem very much like Anne Boleyn in "The Other Boleyn Girl."

This is a very good novel. I was fixated by it and couldn't stop reading. The author is very good at depicting rivalry between sisters. I hope that Philippa Gregory writes many more Tudor novels. Are there any more sisters to be rivals? It doesn't matter. Any book by the author in the Tudor era would be excellent. "The Other Boleyn Girl," was fabulous. I reread it over and over. When I buy "The Queen's Fool," I plan to do the same. Good job, Philippa Gregory!
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4.0 out of 5 stars THERE IS NO FOOL LIKE THE QUEEN'S FOOL..., June 8 2004
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue in the Tudor Courts, June 5 2004
With just a little too much romance to be historical novels and far too much history to be romance novels, Philippa Gregory defies categories in her two immensely readable and wonderfully informative stories of 16th century England: "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Queen's Fool." That she is able to saturate her novels with history is less surprising when one realizes that she has a history degree from the University of Sussex and a PhD in eighteenth-century literature from the University of Edinburgh, but that she is able to bring history to life with such apparent ease and without breaking the rhythm of her narrative is most impressive.
Mary Boleyn, Anne's sister, narrates the first, chronologically, of these two books: "The Other Boleyn Girl." She is Henry VIII's mistress and bears him two children before her more famous sister, Anne, usurps her place. Historically, that is fact, at least the first part is. Whether Anne actually connived to unseat her sister is less clear, though Gregory certainly gives a convincing case of "what-if?" Beginning with Henry's attentions to Mary, the story continues through a rumble of bedding, wedding, and ultimately Anne's beheading. Along the way Gregory paints a picture of a court in which everyone must look over his shoulder constantly, marriages are made for convenience and political alliances, and men, whether father, brother or husband, control women and use them as pawns in a risky game of power. One sister resists, the other cooperates. From the beginning, Gregory paints a picture of sisterly rivalry weighed against sisterly love. Ultimately, sisterly love wins, though the rivalry proves Anne's undoing.
Gregory continues the two themes of sisterly love and rivalry and women obeying (or not obeying, as the case may be) men in "The Queen's Fool." With the rivalry, and sometimes love, between Henry's two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth as historical background, Gregory tells the story of Hannah Green, a Jewish refuge from the Spanish Inquisition who, after seeing her mother burned at the stake, flees with her father to England where he sets up shop as a bookseller. Hannah, who narrates the tale, has the gift of "sight", that is, she has visions that come unbidden and reveal the future to her. It is one of those visions that, early in the story, lands her in court during the short reign of Edward VI and, after his death, leaves her as a pawn batted back and forth between Mary and Elizabeth. Hannah has the ability to see the best in both and, as much as possible, is loyal to both, no mean feat given that each princess see herself as destined for the throne of England. To complicate matters, Hannah is betrothed to another Jewish refuge, who like her, must keep his ancestry a secret. She is torn between her desire for independence and her passion for her intended husband. How she eventually reconciles the two is the meat of the novel.
Gregory's narrative is engrossing, her conversations engaging. Among her previous fourteen books is a trilogy that includes "Wideacre", "The Favored Child" and "Meridon." Dare we hope that she will follow "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Queen's Fool" with a third partner, focusing on Elizabeth?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Three Masters, May 11 2004
By A Customer
Love and betrayal follow this book into one of the most dazzling, dangerous, and chaotic courts of Europe in the 1500's: the Tudor court of England. We follow Hannah Green, a young Spanish girl who is Jewish but pretending to be Christian, to the side of young King Edward, Queen Mary, and ultimately Elizabeth.
Hannah Verde (or Green) has fled the Inquisition with her father because her mother was unfortunate enough to be burned at the stake. But, nothing has prepared Hannah for the life that she will lead in England. From the moment she lays eyes on Robert Dudley (son of the most powerful man in England,) she is smitten. Hannah is no ordinary girl though, and this is the most interesting part of the author's writing style. All of the historical facts given to tell the story are told through Hannah's gift, the Sight. This is the gift that gives the remarkable ability to be able to see into the future, and all of her predictions do come to pass. This is what catches the eye of young Lord Robert and brings her to court. She had seen an angel behind him and from here on she would become a fool to the young king, and later on become a priceless companion and holy seer to the Queen Mary, and dear friend to Queen Elizabeth.
Although the book is fictional many of the events that go on throughout the story really did occur. I loved the author's poetic way of expressing Hannah's feelings while combining them with historical accuracy all in one. One of my favorite visions that Hannah had was when she predicts the fate of both Mary and her sister Elizabeth. The words that the author uses while the Sight speaks through Hannah are both vivid and touching.
The main character Hannah is extremely complex which is what I love about this book. She is torn between love and loyalty. She is in love with Robert Dudley, she loves and is loyal to the queen, and like everyone else, she is drawn to the Princess Elizabeth. One of the interesting things about this book though, is that Mary was made to look like a martyr and a completely misunderstood woman, whereas Elizabeth is shown for cruel and selfish side and ambition that got her to the throne.
Another excellent quality of this book is that it shows what went on during the reigns of Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth outside of court life. In fact, we even learn of life in Calais, a city in Europe owned by the English. Besides having a life at court, Hannah is also betrothed to young man called David whom she loves dearly. He is pressing her to leave court because the Inquisition is now in Catholic England, and they are both Jewish. But once again, although Hannah loves Daniel a lot, she loves the Queen Mary and is very loyal to her, so she cannot leave her.
Hannah does end up having to leave to Calais, but soon returns to England and her dear Queen Mary. This was the rather exciting part of the novel and it takes place in Calais. It is here that we witness the war that Phillip of Spain dragged England into and drained her treasury with. It was rather fascinating seeing as how Philippa Gregory is very vivid and descriptive with her words.
This book was very enjoyable to read and rather touching. It had something for everyone. It is highly recommended for those interested in the Tudor Era or the lives of English people in the 1500's. Philippa Gregory is an excellent author and I highly recommend any of her books, and especially this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Purchase!, May 8 2004
By A Customer
Although I'm fond of historical fiction (nothing beats velvet gowns and courtly love for passing the time on an international flight), and the Tudors are my favorite royal family to read about, it makes me nervous when I sense a revisionist gleam in an author's eye. One particularly ill-advised series has Queen Elizabeth I as a spunky Tudor sleuth, solving mysteries while presiding over Britain's golden age. There's nothing wrong with creative interpretations of historical figures' lives, but even the most determined fan can only suspend so much disbelief. After hearing that Philippa Gregory's newest novel featured a teenage psychic spy, as well as extreme personality makeovers for both Elizabeth and Mary, I had my doubts. But long flights demand reading material, and so I stuffed The Queen's Fool into my carry-on and hoped for the best.
This is the story of Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl who flees Spain with her father after her mother is burned to death by the Spanish Inquisition for heresy. Arriving in London, they open a bookstore and pose as Catholics. All they want is to live quietly and escape persecution in their new country. But Hannah is no ordinary girl: possessed of a remarkable gift called the Sight, she sees visions of the future. Sir Robert Dudley discovers her and brings her to court to be a "holy fool" for the sickly boy-king Edward. Dazzled by Dudley's dashing good looks, Hannah falls in love with him, happily becoming his faithful servant; in her naivete, she fails to realize that she's becoming an accomplice to treason. After Edward's grisly death, Hannah begins a new life as a courtier, serving Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth as companion, friend, and spy - often at the same time. Struggling against her sense of duty to her father, her fiance, and the Jewish community, Hannah embraces the glamour of court life, only to founder in the swift and treacherous waters of political scheming.
Gregory brings the Tudor era to life with vivid descriptions and period detail; she writes knowledgeably and entertainingly about every aspect of courtly life, from dress and etiquette at a royal banquet to the tortures of the Tower's dungeons. Her writing creatively imagines the much-maligned "Bloody Mary" as a tender-hearted, kindly woman, emotionally destroyed by her husband's rejection and her failed pregnancies, and driven to the burning of heretics by a genuine wish for their salvation. Elizabeth, the "Virgin Queen," is presented as a ruthless, amoral seductress who steals her married-to-England schtick - and the throne - from big sister Mary. Oddly, the great romance between Elizabeth and Dudley is glossed over; Gregory's Elizabeth is a calculating home-wrecker, exploiting her sexual desirability for narcissistic gratification and political clout. Although these unusual portrayals of Mary and Elizabeth aren't always convincing, it's an interesting experiment, and, for the most part, plays well enough. What the premise may lack in plausibility (Hannah is a kind of Elizabethan Forrest Gump, ricocheting blithely through the aristocratic Who's Who of her era), it makes up in enjoyably naughty intrigue, though the improbably warm-and-fuzzy ending pulls punches to satisfy the book-club target audience.
Fans of Gregory's previous work will enjoy this behind-the-scenes foray into the darker side of sixteenth-century life at court, and the unconventional treatment of Mary and Elizabeth's conflicted relationship. The holy-visions angle turns out to be mostly a narrative tool, useful to readers only because it grants Hannah a backstage pass to the inner workings of court, and the license to speak freely; her most supernatural gift is her ability to conveniently be wherever the action is. It may not be the most historically accurate rendering of the Tudor royals, but The Queen's Fool is still an enjoyably down-and-dirty page-turner.Check it out! (...)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical fiction, April 20 2004
While the spotlight of historical fiction has often shined on Queen Elizabeth I, only seldom has it shone on her older sister, the infamous Mary Tudor. In this fine work, Phillipa Gregory makes a sympathetic character out of the woman history has dubbed "Bloody Mary", and shows us the darker side of England's greatest queen, the beloved Elizabeth.
Hannah Green is a young girl when she first encounters the then Princess Elizabeth, who is at the time acting in an inappropriate fashion with her stepfather. This image haunts Hannah, who becomes "Fool" to the ill-fated King Edward, then his sister, Queen Mary, by virtue of her gift of Sight. A Jew masquerading as a Christian, Hannah quickly learns to adapt to the religious changes that accompany the change of monarch, and learns to love Mary, whom so many in history have hated. Still, she is drawn to the glittering Elizabeth as a moth to a flame.
As she matures, Hannah learns to appreciate her heritage, her family, and the love of a good man. Only in nearly losing all does she begin to appreciate the life she has.
An excellent read, I recommend it highly to all those interested in the concept of religious tolerance, English history and the Tudor family.
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The Queen's Fool: A Novel
The Queen's Fool: A Novel by Philippa Gregory (Hardcover - Nov. 9 2004)
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