Book Review: ‘The Queen’s Fool’ by Philippa Gregory

Rating: 3.9/5.0

(re) Read: March 2013

The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory is part of her Tudor series, which I am currently re-reading in its entirety. It was originally the second in the series, following The Other Boleyn Girl but Gregory then wrote The Constant Princess, which now starts the whole series off. I have a lot to owe to these books; they made history accessible to me at an age when more “serious” historical texts were too hard for me to tackle, they are a great gateway for people who wish to read more about history, or for those or simply enjoy a good story.

The story itself follows Hannah Green (Verde), a Marrano (a converted Jew) fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition with her father. They have ended up in London where she is begged for a Holy Fool to Edward VI after seeing an angel behind some court lords in Fleet Street. She is quickly swept up into the intrigue of court life, serving Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth (in this novel, Princess) in turn. She appears to have no political machinations and this leaves her open to the manipulations of Robert Dudley, whom she is in love with. Whilst this is going on, the book is also interspersed with her own, totally fictional, personal history. This juxtaposition of the private and public makes the novel feel more real and homely, allowing the reader to interact on a more personal level with the character of Hannah. I really enjoyed that Hannah appeared to have a mind of her own, and the best part was that she was educated to a level that she could keep with the educated men and women she finds herself in the company of.

The reason I didn’t give this book a 4 or higher is because, whilst it is very well written, I feel it is not quite as good as it’s predecessor The Other Boleyn Girl. The story is good and it’s a definite page turner, but it doesn’t quite (for me anyway) hold the same emotional depth as that which came before. I would recommend this book to anyone who even has a passing interest in Tudor history; of course one must remember that events are often skewed in order to fit in with the story, but it provides a nice jumping off point if you do find yourself eager to know more.

Other books in Gregory’s Tudor Series:

The Constant Princess

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Queen’s Fool

The Boleyn Inheritance

The Virgin’s Lover

The Other Queen

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