Saturday, September 12, 2009

Finally!!! I finished a book! The Other Queen

by Philippa Gregory

Finally, I found the time to read a book. This is the first book I have finished since school started on August 3rd. Let me tell you, I MISS reading!!! I made myself a promise I will not do this again. Yeah, right. Grading papers, making lesson plans, staying one step ahead of my European History class, 13.5 hours per week at the ball park, dinner, laundry, homework, time with my wonderful husband and dear children… yeah, it might be awhile before I finish another book, so I will just enjoy this one.

Philippa Gregory is one of those authors I love because of where I discovered her. In the summer of 2004 I took a group of 5 girls to England and Ireland. I had picked up a copy of The Other Boleyn Girl at the airport. All 5 of us traded this one copy back and forth all during the trip. Reading this book as we discovered the beauty of England was magical. Touring Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey and The Tower of London all while reading and incessantly discussing the book made it come alive in a way no other book had before. In Westminster we found the tomb of Mary Carey and her husband. We discovered the tomb of Anne Boleyn in the chapel at the Tower of London. Tower Green, the Crown Jewels, the Royal Apartments and the dungeons of the Tower made the story so real. The fascinating place that is Winsor Castle was amazing. Thus began my love affair with the books of Philippa Gregory. Say what you will about historical inaccuracies in her books, her descriptive, imaginative writing draws me in every time.

Westminster Abbey

The Other Queen is Gregory’s story about the imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots by Elizabeth I. During this time, Mary is kept under the guard of George, Earl of Shrewsberry and his wife Bess at a variety of their homes and castles. It is a disaster from the start. Bess is a self-made woman. She has made marrying well an art form and through her 4 marriages has earned the title of Countess and amassed property and treasures in her own right. Mary, an ordained Queen has been raised in the French court, married to the King of France and is a Scots Queen on the run. She seeks shelter from the Scots rebels in England and finds herself the prisoner, although in a very luxurious prison, of her cousin, the Queen of England.

The book follows the intimate relationships that develop, the hardship of supporting the court of an exiled queen as well as the various plots to free Mary. Gregory does a good job of telling the story from the viewpoints of Bess, Mary and George, without favoring one character over another. I could easily view each side and understand the actions and reactions of the characters.

Prior to this book, I had not read much about Mary, Queen of Scots, but now I am very interested in learning more about her. Off to see if Alison Weir (my favorite Tudor biographer) has written about Mary….

Rating - A


  1. I love your story about reading this book with your students when you were in England! My grandma took me to England when I was a teen, and having immersed myself in historical fiction is what made it exciting and magical for me.

  2. I gave you an award --

  3. OK. Now I don't feel so bad. I haven't made it to that book and it's sitting on my shelf.

    Gregory published a new book this year, The White Queen. I think it's about Henry VIII's grandmother. I think. Don't quote me. :)