To prove that I can, I’m reviewing about something completely outside of my comfort zone. I know it’s strange, but I actually enjoy reading historical fiction especially about families as messed up as the Tudors. Philippa Gregory is known for her historical fiction, and perhaps, best known for her book, The Other Boleyn Girl. When I was in high school, I read as I do now, mainly sci-fi and fantasy, but I dabbled in other things. The Other Boleyn Girl was one of the books I dabbled in. I absolutely loved it. I thought the writing was superb, and the characters beautifully corrupt. I have gotten older, but I still enjoy that book. I have read another book of hers a while back, but it disappointed me as it wasn’t nearly as good as The Other Boleyn Girl, and I stopped reading it half way in. But enough reminiscing.
The Queen’s Fool is the story of a young Jewish girl named Hannah who has fled Spain with her father after her mother was burned at the stake for their faith. Hannah and her father come to England to escape persecution, and to set up a book shop. One day, Hannah, dressed as a boy, sees her three men: an old man, a beautiful young man, and another beautiful man clothed in white. The old man turns out to be John Dee, notorious scholar and future spy master of Elizabeth I. The young man is Lord Robert Dudley, famous on and off again traitor, and lover of Elizabeth I. But the last man, is an angel. Particularly, the angel Uriel. Hannah was able to see him, because she has the ability of the Sight which consists of mainly of premonitions. The Queen’s Fool follows Hannah’s journey to becoming the “holy fool” to King Edward, Queen Mary, and while she was a princess, Elizabeth I.
It is better than The Boleyn Inheritance, that much I can say. The emotions in Hannah are complex as are the loyalties. The details of the Jewish culture are perhaps the most impressive thing in the book. Sometimes it is hard to wrap your mind of the ideas and actions of the characters in the book, but it is important to keep in mind that this was a different time period and different culture. Unlike some movies that paint Elizabeth in the best light, and Mary in the worst, The Queen’s Fool shows them with good characteristics as well as their flaws. Hannah herself is portrayed as independent, and what we would consider spunky. However, I do not know if Hannah fits the idea of a girl at the time. I like to think there were women like her, but with the culture and societal pressures of the time, I find it hard to believe.
Hannah’s story is almost like a roller coaster though at one point near the end I got bored. You will most likely get frustrated as I did, but all in all if you like historical soap operas, you will probably enjoy this book. The little bit of a supernatural twist helps if you like fantasy, and Gregory serves up something that you can tell that at least her facts are straight even when she does embellish.