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Queens Own Fool Hardcover – Jan 11 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books (Jan. 11 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399233806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399233807
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 699 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,409,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Nov. 4 2002
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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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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Format: Paperback
I've been on a Tudor reading binge lately, and this teen novel about Mary Queen of Scots is part of it. It is the story of the tumultuous reign and disastrous marriages of the young Queen, as told by her female jester, La Jardiniere--born Nicola Ambruzzi, orphan and traveling player.
Nicola is given her position as fool just before Mary's husband, the king of France, dies. Having no reason to stay in France, Mary goes back to her native Scotland and sets herself up as queen. Nicola goes with her, serving as a courtier, and also as a friend, during the years between Mary's return to Scotland and her exile in England.
The book starts slowly, and is almost but not quite boring until the murder of David Riccio, a close friend of Mary and Nicola. Then it picks up, starting with a touching scene of Nicola visiting David's grave. After this beautiful interlude, the real action begins. Nicola must keep Darnley, Mary's frat-boy husband, from usurping the throne, and later has to help Mary escape from imprisonment on a remote island. The second half of the book is much more interesting than the first, but I suppose it would have made no sense without the background of the first half. *shrug*
Overall, a decent novel about Queen Mary for middle-schoolers or thereabouts. It might even encourage you to read more about the Tudor/Stuart period.
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Format: Paperback
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. I can't begin to tell you what a fabulous book it is! This is not a "baby" book, written only for tiny children - rather it's written in a way that anybody will enjoy reading it. Children will love the book, but it's written for kids on much higher reading levels - I'd recommend it to those in middle and high school, or younger kids who read on advanced levels. It's nearly 400 pages, but I had such a hard time putting it down that I've breezed through it in two days. Nicola "La Jardiniere" is presented to us as a very real human being. She shows us that even court jesters were people, and they had the same emotions as the rest of the court. This poor child has been through the ringer in her young lifetime! She goes from being abused by her uncle, while performing in his troupe, to suddenly being thrust into the role of the court fool for Mary, Queen of Scots. It's frightening for her, to say the least. But, with her wit and charm, she manages to make the Queen's life a little more bearable. I was especially touched in the scene where (something happens - that I won't disclose) and the poor jester throws herself into the Queen's arms and bursts into tears. The Queen merely comforted poor Nicola, and you could FEEL the tender affection between these two ladies. Anyone who's read up on Mary, Queen of Scots KNOWS what her eventual fate was, but you need to read the book to find out how Nicola dealt with such a tragic loss. She's a very brave girl, indeed!
Since reading the book, I have a whole new insight into how to portray MY character at the next feast!
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