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The Other Queen

by Philippa Gregory

      Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned in England for many years, and the main focus of this novel is on the early years. The point of view of The Other Queen alternates three ways; Mary, Queen of Scots, George Talbot who is the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Bess. They are all at the pleasure of Queen Elizabeth and her advisor, Cecil.

Bess is a wealthy woman who has parlayed the lands of her previous husbands into an impressive income, but finds that hosting the Scottish Queen is draining her finances. She is incensed that Elizabeth does not reimburse her expenses. I did not realize that Mary's upkeep might have fallen on other than the royal treasury.

George, on the other hand, manages to fall in love with the beautiful pretender to the English throne. To me, George was the most compelling character, and the most sympathetic.

Mary herself expects to be rescued by her followers or her husband, Bothwell, (who is imprisoned in Denmark) and reinstated as Queen of Scotland, or possibly even elevated to Queen of England.

Gregory has done a splendid job of research, and presenting the events that happened during Mary's imprisonment. Most of the narration is repetitive, with each person reiterating the same problems multiple times, and it moves forward at a leisurely pace to the inevitable end. I enjoyed the book, but I guess I have already read too many versions of the ill-fated Queen's life, and didn't find it as compelling as I anticipated.

The Book

September 16, 2008
1416549129 / 978-1416549123
Fiction / Historical / 1568 England
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The Reviewer

Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Beverly J. Rowe is's "Babes to Teens" columnist, covering topics related to reading ideas for the youth in the family.
© 2009