Monday, March 3, 2008

The Queen's Fool

Yes, I'm still on my Philippa Greggory kick.

For the February Book-A-Month challenge the theme was the heart, naturally given the month those so inclined turn towards romance. While Queen's Fool has a bit of romance in it just like The Other Boelyn Girl, romance takes a back seat to duty, intrigue, and the royal court.

The Queen's Fool tell the story of Mary Tudor's reign and Elizabeth's rise to power through the eyes of a young Jewish girl, Hannah, who has the gift of the Sight. After she's discovered by Lord Robert Dudley he begs her for a fool to King Edward at the end of his brief reign. Now in Dudley's service, Hannah is forced to make difficult choices, usually bending to Dudley's will as she becomes infatuated with him on sight. This doesn't make it easy for her to find her own happiness, but over time Hannah gains the trust of both Tudor Princesses and successfully navigates the minefield of political intrigue. Through it all there is the shadow of her Jewish heritage and the betrothal to a young medical student named Daniel. Like her is he also a Jew in hiding, a common bond between them though the length's Hannah's father went to in order to hide her made Hannah independent and less inclined to accept Daniel's orders the way the women in his own family do. This independence causes problems for the couple, but along the way Daniel is loyal to Hannah and she to him though they both have periods of doubt and time apart.

I particularly enjoyed the way Gregory weaves Hannah's private life through the threads of history and how intriguing she makes both Elizabeth and Mary. The ghosts of their mothers are very present in the story and you can see how each woman was effected by the treatment their mothers recieved throughout their lives. Queen's Fool was a great read and left me itching to get my hands on The Virgin's Lover which I'm almost finished with now. Another excellent book that I'll talk about next time.

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