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#1 New York Times bestselling author and “queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory weaves a spellbinding tale of a young woman with the ability to see the future in an era when destiny was anything but clear.

Winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee with her father from their home in Spain. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee; she has the gift of “Sight,” the ability to foresee the future, priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward’s protector, who brings her to court as a “holy fool” for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up with her own yearnings and desires.

Teeming with vibrant period detail and peopled by characters seamlessly woven into the sweeping tapestry of history, The Queen’s Fool is a rich and emotionally resonant gem from a masterful storyteller.

Topics: England, Spain, Tudor Period, Elizabethan Era, Series, Bildungsroman, Melodramatic, Romantic, Elizabeth I, The Tudors, Royalty, Judaism, Spies, Politics, Adultery, Women in History, Antisemitism, Escaping Oppression, and Arranged Marriage

Published: Touchstone on Feb 19, 2008
ISBN: 9781416593973
List price: $11.99
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I continue to enjoy this Tudor series by Gregory but didn't feel this was her strongest. Perhaps I prefer when the main character is a true historical figure. This was a very interesting period that I knew little about, however, and Hannah did provide a window into many facets of it including life within the royal court, peasant lives, and the cultural-religious fervor of the day.read more
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This was one of the slooooowest books I have ever read. I kept at it - but it was so hard to keep reading when the plot was so uninteresting.The one thing I found interesting was the author's attempt to instill Mary I with some sympathetic qualities. It was a difficult job - no doubt given the historical record - and I thought it was a brave thing to attempt.I found it hard to care about the main character. She was pretty preposterous - and even annoying at times. All in all I would definitely skip this book if you haven't read it.read more
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Another good one from Gregoryread more
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this was the most disappointing of Gregory's novels that I've read so far. While it was good, I just couldn't get into the stories and the characters as I could in The Constant Princess & The Other Boleyn Girl.read more
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Not as good as The Other Boleyn but the ending turns around and sucks you in.read more
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I can't believe I waited this long to read this book as I'm a huge Philippa Gregory fan. I loved the story of Hannah and her relationship with Mary and Elizabeth. The only negative is I thought the storyline of Hannah and Daniel was a little Mills and Boonish..... a bit disappointing, however, still a great read.read more
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While the main character was fairly interesting, Ms. Gregory's tendency to cherry-pick her historical details is annoying.read more
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Philippa Gregory's best work so far. A young woman is swept up into the drama of the Elizabethian court thanks to her ability of Sight. This very unique look into the drama of Elizabeth's life is refreshing.read more
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The Queen's Fool tells the tale of Hannah Green, a secret Jew with the ability to see the future, who serves both Mary Tudor and Elizabeth Tudor as a fool. Hannah, partly because of her unique Sight, becomes embroiled with several plots in the turbulent Tudor court. Furthermore, she must hide her heritage and religious beliefs at a time of religious unrest and uncertainty. I found Hannah's Jewish beliefs one of the more interesting aspects of this novel, as it brought out an unseen portion of England's religious struggles in the sixteenth century and created a character adept at hiding her true beliefs. However, Hannah, for all the time she spends in the royal court, strikes me as incredibly naive, even towards the novel's end. Overall, The Queen's Fool is an good piece of historical fiction and a good read for fans of the Tudor era.read more
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Not a bad read. This is not her strongest work and the ending feels a bit forced but a great light read.read more
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I have to admit that I'm not up on my Tudor history as much as I'd like to be. And most of what I know comes from the movie Lady Jane with Helena Bonham Carter. But I know the basics: the fight for the crown, Bloody Mary, Elizabeth and the Spanish and that sort of thing.This book is a look inside the court from a teenage Jewish girl. She keeps her religion secret as she and her father fled Spain during the inquisition. Her mother was burned at the stake. She is working for her f...more I have to admit that I'm not up on my Tudor history as much as I'd like to be. And most of what I know comes from the movie Lady Jane with Helena Bonham Carter. But I know the basics: the fight for the crown, Bloody Mary, Elizabeth and the Spanish and that sort of thing.This book is a look inside the court from a teenage Jewish girl. She keeps her religion secret as she and her father fled Spain during the inquisition. Her mother was burned at the stake. She is working for her father at his bookshop, dressed as a boy when Robert Dudley discovers her.She has the gift of the Sight (telling the future - though not always when is convenient for her) and is sent to the dying king's court to be a Holy Fool and foresee the future. Robert Dudley and his friends also involve her in their plots - sometimes willingly, sometimes unwilling.Along the way, a lot of interesting things happen. The court intrigue, her betrothal, war and so on.The story is built on a great premise, not only the Tudor history, but also showing the reign of Bloody Mary through the eyes of a girl who lost her mother to a similar religious based killing spree. How could she reconcile this and serve the Queen happily?Ultimately, it was these sorts of inconsistencies in the book that dropped it from a 5 star rating to a 4. Though the inconsistencies were addressed, I didn't find the reasoning plausible enough. It didn't make sense to me.Overall, I love historical fiction and I like a little romance and drama mixed in. The characters and setting was interesting, and I may have even learned something (keeping in mind of course, that it is still fiction and not everything should be taken as gospel truth). I'll try and get my hands on more of her Tudor series very soonread more
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The Queen's Fool, another wonderful mix of fiction and fact from Philippa Gregory. Fact in so far as our history books tell. Gregory is wonderful at her craft of mixing this into a tale that is readable, probable and keeps the reader interested unto the very end. The Tudor tales are told with such intrigue, spies everywhere, lack of trust all around - not much different today, I am sure although with the complete separation of sovereignty the government which rules our country, our royal family are more concerned on hanging onto their title and role in the kingdom these times.I find it quite interesting that Dr John Dee is getting so much coverage nowadays. Watching Later with Jools, I learnt that Damon Albarn's new outfit are called Dr Dee after this very same man. And on the show Albarn showed an ancient book with historical facts about John Dee. I guess it was coincidence that the very book I was reading at the time focussed a fair bit on this incredible man, however I was quite surprised at this.If you like historical fiction and the reign of the Tudor's do read this wonderful tale.read more
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Enjoyed the book in the main. found it a bit hard going at first but stuck with it. I find that I have to be in the mood to pick up a Philippa Gregory book. I enjoy the elements of history through the story and the details which are described wonderfully.read more
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I much prefer The Queen's Own Fool by Jane Yolen (2001) to The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory. Both deal with females who are fools to Queens named Mary. But the stories are very different. In Philippa Gregory's book Hannah and her father are Jews fleeing Spain following the torture and death of Hannah's mother by the Inquisition. They carefully attend church and attempt to look as Christian as possible. To Hannah's father it is a mask but Hannah feels separated from her heritage and distant from the traditions she is supposed to be keeping in hiding. Hannah has visions and when this talent is revealed to a powerful Lord at the Court, Hannah is offered as a Fool to ailing King Edward and set as a spy in the Court by her benefactor. I did like the way that the hiding of race and religion was shown and the further tension when Hannah and her father realize that they are in a coiuntry that cannot make up its mind about what religion will rule: Roman Catholocism or Protestantism. At least when Protestants reign there is no Inquisition. Hannah's strength is in being able to see good in people and to love even when the majority of the people have turned their backs. She cares for and worries about Edward, she comes to love Mary, and she respects and emulates Elizabeth even though she acknowledges that Elizabeth is a scandalous and conniving rogue. Her adoration of her Lord Robert was difficult to understand and several times her actions caused me to exclaim out loud and wonder "What is she thinking, Foolish Girl!" Hannah is a bit of a Peter Pan, she wants her life to go her way and will not take on the responsibility of an adult until she can ararnge it to her will. She finds some flaws with this process in the long run. I just preferred the other book. Maybe it was the visions, they and the other magic got on my nerves.read more
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This was the first book by Philippa Gregory that I read and one that got me hooked on her Tudor family saga. Gregory's blend of history and fiction creates very believable characters, especially strong women. In a time when women, even royal women, weren't given respect as people, it is interesting to see how they may have loved and fought to build a life. Also, Gregory's books have helped me remember more about England's history than any classes I have taken!read more
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Over a ten-year stretch between 1548-1558 a young Jewish woman serves Queen Mary as her fool, falls in love with a plotting lord, becomes the confidant of Princess Elizabeth, and falls in love with the man to whom her father had betrothed her. Hannah and her father have fled Spain. Jews who have hidden their religion, they ostensibly practice the Anglican and then Catholic Christianity of their adopted country, but they are always on the lookout for agents of the Inquisition. In the roil of politics and religion in Elizabethan England, Hannah, her father, the family of her fiancé and others, are always at risk.While the overlay of modern sensibilities about gender and religious equality detract from the historicity of the story, this thoroughly engaging historical romance is worth a read. I’ll probably pick up others by this author.read more
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From the back:"It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of "Sight," the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward's protector, who brings her to court as a "holy fool" for Queen Mary and ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool, but working as a spy, promised in wedlock, but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires."My review: I enjoyed this one - not as much as "The Other Boleyn Girl" - but much more than "The Constant Princess", which I thought was mediocre at best. Gregory has made a franchise out the Tudor era and, I think, has pretty much covered all the bases. I thought this one started and ended strong, but sagged in the middle. "Bloody" Queen Mary comes across as a sad and tragic figure in contrast to her flirtatious and ultimately more successful sister Elizabeth. Hannah "The Fool" was an interesting choice as a vehicle for looking at the relationship between these two very different women, but it ultimately left me feeling a little flat. The story follows Hannah from age 14 through 20 during which she grows into her womanhood, but I had trouble putting myself in her shoes. Maybe I'm too old to remember what life was like at that age, but Gregory wasn't good enough as a writer to remind me. I was "told" (rather than shown) too often how Hannah was a Jew passing as a Christian, a girl in boys clothing, betrothed to one man but in love with another, devoted to Queen Mary but admiring Princess Elizabeth; which left me feeling Hannah was hopelessly divided and weak rather than conflicted.I still recommend this one, it has a lot going for it, but also a few flaws.read more
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this is a fun-to-read account of a courtier of Queen Mary of England after her brother Edward dies. 1/4 of the way through it and is keeping me interested, a different light on future Queen Elizabeth makes it interesting as well.read more
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very good the writing and storyline is very well written!read more
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Wow, another great book by Philippa Gregory! I thought this was just about as good as The Other Boleyn Girl. Once I finished it, I immediately went and added the sequel, The Virgin’s Lover, to my wish list as I’m really looking forward to the story of Elizabeth. Both her and Robert Dudley were my favorite characters in this book, and they’re the primary characters in the next book. :) Just like in The Other Boleyn girl, Gregory takes historical fact and weaves a tale around it. There’s a few main characters in this book, with Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, being the main character of historical significance. She’s sometimes remembered as “Bloody Mary” because of all the supposed heretics she had burned at the stake. This story is told from the point of view of Hannah the Fool, the daughter of a Jewish bookseller who escaped persecution with her father from Spain to England after her mother was burned as a heretic. I believe Hannah’s character is completely fictional, but her story is interesting nonetheless. She’s got the gift of a Seer, and as the Queen’s Fool, she dresses in breeches, and doesn’t really have to mind what she says as most women would… she’s “a fool” after all. Her loyalties are continually tested as she’s a trusted companion to Queen Mary, as well as her half-sister, the Princess Elizabeth, and Robert Dudley, both of whom are later imprisoned and charged with treason in a plot to strip Queen Mary from the throne. Hannah moves among these groups and they all trust her; many times she doesn’t even realize the plots she’s actually involved in as she’s asked to bring some cryptic message from one to another. She tries to speak only the truth and often the Sight compels her to do so. Had the Queen listened to Hannah before agreeing to marry Prince Philip of Spain, she may have been saved a lot of heartache, and what eventually became her undoing.read more
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I really enjoyed this book. Call me silly, but I did not realize that this was based on historical facts. At the end of the book I wanted to research how a woman thought she was pregnant and in the end had no baby to show for it. So I used wikipedia and found out this book was about Queen Mary aka - Bloody Mary.. had no idea! So it was quite interesting to learn this. This book is told beautifully through a loving girl servant to the queen and princess Elizabeth. This series really brought history to life for me and I will continue to read them.read more
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Hannah Green is no ordinary 14 year old. She and her father are Jews escaping from the Spanish Inquisition and looking for a better life in England and she has the gift of Sight, which allows her to predict the future. A chance encounter with Robert Dudley, a noble at the court of King Edward, takes her from her father's humble print shop to the royal palace where she becomes the Holy Fool, a trusted companion of the Tudor queen and a spy for the Dudleys. Torn between her obligations at court and her family and heritage Hannah will become a woman like no other in the tumultuous years when the Tudor offspring fought for the throne. This is the second book I've read by Philippa Gregory and the first one was so long ago that I've all but forgotten how enjoyable her books are. So enjoyable, in fact, that I didn't want this story to end and stretched out reading it as much as I could. There is a very clear evolution of the main character from a girl who is afraid of her own shadow into a young woman who knows her own mind and can act decisively on a moment's notice. Hannah's fear of being discovered for who she really was at a time when being a Jew was most dangerous is almost palpable. The circumstances have made her into a habitual liar and it is easy to understand the cynicism of this young girl - she's seen the wind change so many times that she very clearly understand that more often than not what the right answer is depends on who is asking the questions and she has grown bitter at her heritage for preventing her from having a peaceful life. It was heartening however to see her lose neither the sight of who she was nor her appreciation of the people around her for what they brought to the table as her fear became less paralyzing.One of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction so much is that it gives us a glimpse of what happened decades and centuries before our time in a voice very different from the dull monotone of history books. If the author has done her homework and unless she takes serious liberties with the course of history we get a very good ideas of the events that took place and the people involved. Gregory's mastery is revealed in the fact that I trust every word she writes. I can't help but believe that Mary, Elizabeth, the Dudleys, the Carpenters and the rest really were exactly the way Gregory portrays them and that it couldn't be any other way. It was also very interesting to gain the insight into not only the English court but also the clandestine Jewish community of XVI century Europe. Persecuted by both Catholics and Protestants, forced to hide who they were no matter where they went but not giving up on their heritage and their faith these people showed true courage and resilience in the face of the threat of death at every turn.There were only two things that I didn't like about the book. One has to do with the plot and to stay true to my "no spoilers" policy I won't go into details. I will only say that what happened seemed unfair and that there was a double standard when actions of characters were evaluated. Another has to do with character development, so here I will elaborate. At one point Hannah talks about how the cattiness at court prepared her to deal with the relationships outside of it and the problem was that we didn't see any of her interaction with any courtiers besides the Dudleys and Will Sommers, the other royal Fool, and there was no animosity there. As soon as I read this little bit I knew that there was no support for it anywhere else in the narrative and while it made sense that courtiers competing for position were no angels it still jarred me out of the story. These two things are by no means deal breakers and The Queen's Fool put Philippa Gregory on my list of authors to follow and I would recommend her books without reservation to any fan of historical fiction or anyone who wants to "test-drive" the genre.read more
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I think the better question would be what I liked about this book. I found the characters – every single last one of them – annoying, shallow, and irritating. Perhaps Queen Mary is the only exception to this, but that’s probably because she’s portrayed in a nice manner rather than her usual villainous role. Hannah is more of plot device than a character the reader should care about. She’s conveniently located for all major moments but of course not someone the reader gets to know until the end of the novel.I mean, why would Mary accept Hannah not only as her fool but also as her companion and allow her access to meetings were secrecy is of the upmost importance? And then why would Elizabeth accept Hannah as her personal companion and fool knowing she’s friends with Mary, knowing Hannah is a spy for others, and knowing she (Elizabeth) is plotting against Mary.The tidbits about Jews living through the Inquisition and Protestant/Catholic England were interesting and admittedly were the only reasons why I continued reading Gregory’s novel. I’m afraid, however, that it will be quite some time before I pick up another book by Gregory.read more
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I prefer this book to other's I have read since. Its story had more depth.read more
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The Queen’s Fool… Hmm, for quite a ways into the book, I was starting to feel like the fool myself for spending the time to read the book…Relatively slow in getting absorbed by the story, and befuddled by the heroine, Hannah’s, obsession with Lord Robert (really? as simple as a young girl drawn by a handsome, dashing man), I finally got into the rhythm of the story much later, as I started to appreciate Hannah’s utter sense of loyalty, duty, and allegiance, especially to Queen Mary, and to a lesser degree (at least to me), to Princess Elizabeth. Her loyalty to her own values, her love affair with books, knowledge, being a genuinely intelligent young woman speaking multiple languages (Spanish, English, French, Hebrew) and reading Greek and Latin, and perceptively learning the ways of the court made her a person that you want to meet in real life. My two key likes. A) The book made me re-look up the British Monarch history. (The books’ general history was mostly accurate.)B) Gaining some insights to the plight of the Jews in that era, noted as 1552 to 1558, hiding and concealing not just their faith, but also the associated customs, language, and knowledge. The relationship amongst the Jews, how they helped each other remain concealed throughout Europe, had a flavor of the Underground Railroad.Ultimately, other than a perspective of history via the eyes of an intelligent young lady, this book did not offer substantial substance to me. Perhaps it was not meant to be either. This book was not so creatively written that entertained my typical desire for learning new ways to manipulate words. Here are just a few quotes, partly for its content and partly for the charm of the sentence(s). “Elizabeth was always such a mixture of raging emotion and calculation that I could rarely take her measure.”“Books were my brothers and sisters; I could not turn against them now. I could not become one of those that see something they cannot understand, and destroy it.”“And so I would rather not spur your wife’s irritation into rage if you are going to blow in and out again like a spring wind that spoils the peace of the orchard.”read more
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A good read with wonderfully real characters.read more
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Lovely, A good book about the fight for power between the three Queens after Edward V dies. Told form the perspective of a fugitive jew that has come from Spain in order to hide from the Inquisition. Hannah befriends the Queens Mary and Elizabeth, in her job as Royal Fool, Hannah gets visions of the future.A wonderful story telling about the reigns of the two queens. And what it is like to be a heretic, and running from the Inquisitions Flames.read more
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Oddly enough, I like this one even more than The Other Boleyn Girl. Even though I have nothing in common with Hannah, I found I identified with her more. There is just something in the story of a young Jewish girl who has to pretend to not to be Jewish to save her life that captivates me.read more
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Would not recommend it at all. It's only saving grace is that it has a happy ending unlike most of Gregory's other books. The cross-dressing is distracting and plays no real part in the story. Her blind devotion is just plain annoying and I really has to force myself to finish this book.read more
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Loved it. It really made me wonder about England and the hx there. This book has a very similiar storyline as "The other Boleyn girl". A woman who works in the court, loves a royal, but true love is outside the cour, and how they find it. 8/24/04read more
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I continue to enjoy this Tudor series by Gregory but didn't feel this was her strongest. Perhaps I prefer when the main character is a true historical figure. This was a very interesting period that I knew little about, however, and Hannah did provide a window into many facets of it including life within the royal court, peasant lives, and the cultural-religious fervor of the day.
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This was one of the slooooowest books I have ever read. I kept at it - but it was so hard to keep reading when the plot was so uninteresting.The one thing I found interesting was the author's attempt to instill Mary I with some sympathetic qualities. It was a difficult job - no doubt given the historical record - and I thought it was a brave thing to attempt.I found it hard to care about the main character. She was pretty preposterous - and even annoying at times. All in all I would definitely skip this book if you haven't read it.
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Another good one from Gregory
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this was the most disappointing of Gregory's novels that I've read so far. While it was good, I just couldn't get into the stories and the characters as I could in The Constant Princess & The Other Boleyn Girl.
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Not as good as The Other Boleyn but the ending turns around and sucks you in.
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I can't believe I waited this long to read this book as I'm a huge Philippa Gregory fan. I loved the story of Hannah and her relationship with Mary and Elizabeth. The only negative is I thought the storyline of Hannah and Daniel was a little Mills and Boonish..... a bit disappointing, however, still a great read.
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While the main character was fairly interesting, Ms. Gregory's tendency to cherry-pick her historical details is annoying.
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Philippa Gregory's best work so far. A young woman is swept up into the drama of the Elizabethian court thanks to her ability of Sight. This very unique look into the drama of Elizabeth's life is refreshing.
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The Queen's Fool tells the tale of Hannah Green, a secret Jew with the ability to see the future, who serves both Mary Tudor and Elizabeth Tudor as a fool. Hannah, partly because of her unique Sight, becomes embroiled with several plots in the turbulent Tudor court. Furthermore, she must hide her heritage and religious beliefs at a time of religious unrest and uncertainty. I found Hannah's Jewish beliefs one of the more interesting aspects of this novel, as it brought out an unseen portion of England's religious struggles in the sixteenth century and created a character adept at hiding her true beliefs. However, Hannah, for all the time she spends in the royal court, strikes me as incredibly naive, even towards the novel's end. Overall, The Queen's Fool is an good piece of historical fiction and a good read for fans of the Tudor era.
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Not a bad read. This is not her strongest work and the ending feels a bit forced but a great light read.
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I have to admit that I'm not up on my Tudor history as much as I'd like to be. And most of what I know comes from the movie Lady Jane with Helena Bonham Carter. But I know the basics: the fight for the crown, Bloody Mary, Elizabeth and the Spanish and that sort of thing.This book is a look inside the court from a teenage Jewish girl. She keeps her religion secret as she and her father fled Spain during the inquisition. Her mother was burned at the stake. She is working for her f...more I have to admit that I'm not up on my Tudor history as much as I'd like to be. And most of what I know comes from the movie Lady Jane with Helena Bonham Carter. But I know the basics: the fight for the crown, Bloody Mary, Elizabeth and the Spanish and that sort of thing.This book is a look inside the court from a teenage Jewish girl. She keeps her religion secret as she and her father fled Spain during the inquisition. Her mother was burned at the stake. She is working for her father at his bookshop, dressed as a boy when Robert Dudley discovers her.She has the gift of the Sight (telling the future - though not always when is convenient for her) and is sent to the dying king's court to be a Holy Fool and foresee the future. Robert Dudley and his friends also involve her in their plots - sometimes willingly, sometimes unwilling.Along the way, a lot of interesting things happen. The court intrigue, her betrothal, war and so on.The story is built on a great premise, not only the Tudor history, but also showing the reign of Bloody Mary through the eyes of a girl who lost her mother to a similar religious based killing spree. How could she reconcile this and serve the Queen happily?Ultimately, it was these sorts of inconsistencies in the book that dropped it from a 5 star rating to a 4. Though the inconsistencies were addressed, I didn't find the reasoning plausible enough. It didn't make sense to me.Overall, I love historical fiction and I like a little romance and drama mixed in. The characters and setting was interesting, and I may have even learned something (keeping in mind of course, that it is still fiction and not everything should be taken as gospel truth). I'll try and get my hands on more of her Tudor series very soon
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The Queen's Fool, another wonderful mix of fiction and fact from Philippa Gregory. Fact in so far as our history books tell. Gregory is wonderful at her craft of mixing this into a tale that is readable, probable and keeps the reader interested unto the very end. The Tudor tales are told with such intrigue, spies everywhere, lack of trust all around - not much different today, I am sure although with the complete separation of sovereignty the government which rules our country, our royal family are more concerned on hanging onto their title and role in the kingdom these times.I find it quite interesting that Dr John Dee is getting so much coverage nowadays. Watching Later with Jools, I learnt that Damon Albarn's new outfit are called Dr Dee after this very same man. And on the show Albarn showed an ancient book with historical facts about John Dee. I guess it was coincidence that the very book I was reading at the time focussed a fair bit on this incredible man, however I was quite surprised at this.If you like historical fiction and the reign of the Tudor's do read this wonderful tale.
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Enjoyed the book in the main. found it a bit hard going at first but stuck with it. I find that I have to be in the mood to pick up a Philippa Gregory book. I enjoy the elements of history through the story and the details which are described wonderfully.
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I much prefer The Queen's Own Fool by Jane Yolen (2001) to The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory. Both deal with females who are fools to Queens named Mary. But the stories are very different. In Philippa Gregory's book Hannah and her father are Jews fleeing Spain following the torture and death of Hannah's mother by the Inquisition. They carefully attend church and attempt to look as Christian as possible. To Hannah's father it is a mask but Hannah feels separated from her heritage and distant from the traditions she is supposed to be keeping in hiding. Hannah has visions and when this talent is revealed to a powerful Lord at the Court, Hannah is offered as a Fool to ailing King Edward and set as a spy in the Court by her benefactor. I did like the way that the hiding of race and religion was shown and the further tension when Hannah and her father realize that they are in a coiuntry that cannot make up its mind about what religion will rule: Roman Catholocism or Protestantism. At least when Protestants reign there is no Inquisition. Hannah's strength is in being able to see good in people and to love even when the majority of the people have turned their backs. She cares for and worries about Edward, she comes to love Mary, and she respects and emulates Elizabeth even though she acknowledges that Elizabeth is a scandalous and conniving rogue. Her adoration of her Lord Robert was difficult to understand and several times her actions caused me to exclaim out loud and wonder "What is she thinking, Foolish Girl!" Hannah is a bit of a Peter Pan, she wants her life to go her way and will not take on the responsibility of an adult until she can ararnge it to her will. She finds some flaws with this process in the long run. I just preferred the other book. Maybe it was the visions, they and the other magic got on my nerves.
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This was the first book by Philippa Gregory that I read and one that got me hooked on her Tudor family saga. Gregory's blend of history and fiction creates very believable characters, especially strong women. In a time when women, even royal women, weren't given respect as people, it is interesting to see how they may have loved and fought to build a life. Also, Gregory's books have helped me remember more about England's history than any classes I have taken!
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Over a ten-year stretch between 1548-1558 a young Jewish woman serves Queen Mary as her fool, falls in love with a plotting lord, becomes the confidant of Princess Elizabeth, and falls in love with the man to whom her father had betrothed her. Hannah and her father have fled Spain. Jews who have hidden their religion, they ostensibly practice the Anglican and then Catholic Christianity of their adopted country, but they are always on the lookout for agents of the Inquisition. In the roil of politics and religion in Elizabethan England, Hannah, her father, the family of her fiancé and others, are always at risk.While the overlay of modern sensibilities about gender and religious equality detract from the historicity of the story, this thoroughly engaging historical romance is worth a read. I’ll probably pick up others by this author.
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From the back:"It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of "Sight," the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward's protector, who brings her to court as a "holy fool" for Queen Mary and ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool, but working as a spy, promised in wedlock, but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires."My review: I enjoyed this one - not as much as "The Other Boleyn Girl" - but much more than "The Constant Princess", which I thought was mediocre at best. Gregory has made a franchise out the Tudor era and, I think, has pretty much covered all the bases. I thought this one started and ended strong, but sagged in the middle. "Bloody" Queen Mary comes across as a sad and tragic figure in contrast to her flirtatious and ultimately more successful sister Elizabeth. Hannah "The Fool" was an interesting choice as a vehicle for looking at the relationship between these two very different women, but it ultimately left me feeling a little flat. The story follows Hannah from age 14 through 20 during which she grows into her womanhood, but I had trouble putting myself in her shoes. Maybe I'm too old to remember what life was like at that age, but Gregory wasn't good enough as a writer to remind me. I was "told" (rather than shown) too often how Hannah was a Jew passing as a Christian, a girl in boys clothing, betrothed to one man but in love with another, devoted to Queen Mary but admiring Princess Elizabeth; which left me feeling Hannah was hopelessly divided and weak rather than conflicted.I still recommend this one, it has a lot going for it, but also a few flaws.
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this is a fun-to-read account of a courtier of Queen Mary of England after her brother Edward dies. 1/4 of the way through it and is keeping me interested, a different light on future Queen Elizabeth makes it interesting as well.
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very good the writing and storyline is very well written!
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Wow, another great book by Philippa Gregory! I thought this was just about as good as The Other Boleyn Girl. Once I finished it, I immediately went and added the sequel, The Virgin’s Lover, to my wish list as I’m really looking forward to the story of Elizabeth. Both her and Robert Dudley were my favorite characters in this book, and they’re the primary characters in the next book. :) Just like in The Other Boleyn girl, Gregory takes historical fact and weaves a tale around it. There’s a few main characters in this book, with Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, being the main character of historical significance. She’s sometimes remembered as “Bloody Mary” because of all the supposed heretics she had burned at the stake. This story is told from the point of view of Hannah the Fool, the daughter of a Jewish bookseller who escaped persecution with her father from Spain to England after her mother was burned as a heretic. I believe Hannah’s character is completely fictional, but her story is interesting nonetheless. She’s got the gift of a Seer, and as the Queen’s Fool, she dresses in breeches, and doesn’t really have to mind what she says as most women would… she’s “a fool” after all. Her loyalties are continually tested as she’s a trusted companion to Queen Mary, as well as her half-sister, the Princess Elizabeth, and Robert Dudley, both of whom are later imprisoned and charged with treason in a plot to strip Queen Mary from the throne. Hannah moves among these groups and they all trust her; many times she doesn’t even realize the plots she’s actually involved in as she’s asked to bring some cryptic message from one to another. She tries to speak only the truth and often the Sight compels her to do so. Had the Queen listened to Hannah before agreeing to marry Prince Philip of Spain, she may have been saved a lot of heartache, and what eventually became her undoing.
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I really enjoyed this book. Call me silly, but I did not realize that this was based on historical facts. At the end of the book I wanted to research how a woman thought she was pregnant and in the end had no baby to show for it. So I used wikipedia and found out this book was about Queen Mary aka - Bloody Mary.. had no idea! So it was quite interesting to learn this. This book is told beautifully through a loving girl servant to the queen and princess Elizabeth. This series really brought history to life for me and I will continue to read them.
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Hannah Green is no ordinary 14 year old. She and her father are Jews escaping from the Spanish Inquisition and looking for a better life in England and she has the gift of Sight, which allows her to predict the future. A chance encounter with Robert Dudley, a noble at the court of King Edward, takes her from her father's humble print shop to the royal palace where she becomes the Holy Fool, a trusted companion of the Tudor queen and a spy for the Dudleys. Torn between her obligations at court and her family and heritage Hannah will become a woman like no other in the tumultuous years when the Tudor offspring fought for the throne. This is the second book I've read by Philippa Gregory and the first one was so long ago that I've all but forgotten how enjoyable her books are. So enjoyable, in fact, that I didn't want this story to end and stretched out reading it as much as I could. There is a very clear evolution of the main character from a girl who is afraid of her own shadow into a young woman who knows her own mind and can act decisively on a moment's notice. Hannah's fear of being discovered for who she really was at a time when being a Jew was most dangerous is almost palpable. The circumstances have made her into a habitual liar and it is easy to understand the cynicism of this young girl - she's seen the wind change so many times that she very clearly understand that more often than not what the right answer is depends on who is asking the questions and she has grown bitter at her heritage for preventing her from having a peaceful life. It was heartening however to see her lose neither the sight of who she was nor her appreciation of the people around her for what they brought to the table as her fear became less paralyzing.One of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction so much is that it gives us a glimpse of what happened decades and centuries before our time in a voice very different from the dull monotone of history books. If the author has done her homework and unless she takes serious liberties with the course of history we get a very good ideas of the events that took place and the people involved. Gregory's mastery is revealed in the fact that I trust every word she writes. I can't help but believe that Mary, Elizabeth, the Dudleys, the Carpenters and the rest really were exactly the way Gregory portrays them and that it couldn't be any other way. It was also very interesting to gain the insight into not only the English court but also the clandestine Jewish community of XVI century Europe. Persecuted by both Catholics and Protestants, forced to hide who they were no matter where they went but not giving up on their heritage and their faith these people showed true courage and resilience in the face of the threat of death at every turn.There were only two things that I didn't like about the book. One has to do with the plot and to stay true to my "no spoilers" policy I won't go into details. I will only say that what happened seemed unfair and that there was a double standard when actions of characters were evaluated. Another has to do with character development, so here I will elaborate. At one point Hannah talks about how the cattiness at court prepared her to deal with the relationships outside of it and the problem was that we didn't see any of her interaction with any courtiers besides the Dudleys and Will Sommers, the other royal Fool, and there was no animosity there. As soon as I read this little bit I knew that there was no support for it anywhere else in the narrative and while it made sense that courtiers competing for position were no angels it still jarred me out of the story. These two things are by no means deal breakers and The Queen's Fool put Philippa Gregory on my list of authors to follow and I would recommend her books without reservation to any fan of historical fiction or anyone who wants to "test-drive" the genre.
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I think the better question would be what I liked about this book. I found the characters – every single last one of them – annoying, shallow, and irritating. Perhaps Queen Mary is the only exception to this, but that’s probably because she’s portrayed in a nice manner rather than her usual villainous role. Hannah is more of plot device than a character the reader should care about. She’s conveniently located for all major moments but of course not someone the reader gets to know until the end of the novel.I mean, why would Mary accept Hannah not only as her fool but also as her companion and allow her access to meetings were secrecy is of the upmost importance? And then why would Elizabeth accept Hannah as her personal companion and fool knowing she’s friends with Mary, knowing Hannah is a spy for others, and knowing she (Elizabeth) is plotting against Mary.The tidbits about Jews living through the Inquisition and Protestant/Catholic England were interesting and admittedly were the only reasons why I continued reading Gregory’s novel. I’m afraid, however, that it will be quite some time before I pick up another book by Gregory.
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I prefer this book to other's I have read since. Its story had more depth.
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The Queen’s Fool… Hmm, for quite a ways into the book, I was starting to feel like the fool myself for spending the time to read the book…Relatively slow in getting absorbed by the story, and befuddled by the heroine, Hannah’s, obsession with Lord Robert (really? as simple as a young girl drawn by a handsome, dashing man), I finally got into the rhythm of the story much later, as I started to appreciate Hannah’s utter sense of loyalty, duty, and allegiance, especially to Queen Mary, and to a lesser degree (at least to me), to Princess Elizabeth. Her loyalty to her own values, her love affair with books, knowledge, being a genuinely intelligent young woman speaking multiple languages (Spanish, English, French, Hebrew) and reading Greek and Latin, and perceptively learning the ways of the court made her a person that you want to meet in real life. My two key likes. A) The book made me re-look up the British Monarch history. (The books’ general history was mostly accurate.)B) Gaining some insights to the plight of the Jews in that era, noted as 1552 to 1558, hiding and concealing not just their faith, but also the associated customs, language, and knowledge. The relationship amongst the Jews, how they helped each other remain concealed throughout Europe, had a flavor of the Underground Railroad.Ultimately, other than a perspective of history via the eyes of an intelligent young lady, this book did not offer substantial substance to me. Perhaps it was not meant to be either. This book was not so creatively written that entertained my typical desire for learning new ways to manipulate words. Here are just a few quotes, partly for its content and partly for the charm of the sentence(s). “Elizabeth was always such a mixture of raging emotion and calculation that I could rarely take her measure.”“Books were my brothers and sisters; I could not turn against them now. I could not become one of those that see something they cannot understand, and destroy it.”“And so I would rather not spur your wife’s irritation into rage if you are going to blow in and out again like a spring wind that spoils the peace of the orchard.”
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A good read with wonderfully real characters.
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Lovely, A good book about the fight for power between the three Queens after Edward V dies. Told form the perspective of a fugitive jew that has come from Spain in order to hide from the Inquisition. Hannah befriends the Queens Mary and Elizabeth, in her job as Royal Fool, Hannah gets visions of the future.A wonderful story telling about the reigns of the two queens. And what it is like to be a heretic, and running from the Inquisitions Flames.
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Oddly enough, I like this one even more than The Other Boleyn Girl. Even though I have nothing in common with Hannah, I found I identified with her more. There is just something in the story of a young Jewish girl who has to pretend to not to be Jewish to save her life that captivates me.
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Would not recommend it at all. It's only saving grace is that it has a happy ending unlike most of Gregory's other books. The cross-dressing is distracting and plays no real part in the story. Her blind devotion is just plain annoying and I really has to force myself to finish this book.
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Loved it. It really made me wonder about England and the hx there. This book has a very similiar storyline as "The other Boleyn girl". A woman who works in the court, loves a royal, but true love is outside the cour, and how they find it. 8/24/04
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