Alas!!!!! the last novel in the Tudor series by Philippa Gregory. I pat myself on the back for finishing all of these books within a year. If there was a reading challenge on her works, I would have passed with flying colors! Sounding like a total fangirl all I have to say is I love her books. I love the rich history and how it’s all being weaved into a plot that just takes you back as if you’re really there in the Tudor court. So. I’ve been proud to walk through this court through the eyes of many wonderful characters. Except for Robert Dudley. He stinks. Okay. *Turns off fangirl mode*
The Other Queen focuses on Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I’s rival. You read the story through the eyes of Queen Mary, and her two hosts/jailors: George and Bess Talbot (who are also newlyweds). As the plot progress, you notice George falling in love with the Queen, and Bess becoming the green eyed monster. In the meantime Queen Mary is busy plotting to get her seated on a throne to rule France, England, and Scotland.
The plot starts very slow at first. It didn’t really capture my attention as Gregory’s other books. I did not really warm up to any of these characters. When you’re reading from Mary’s point of view she’s always referring to her past, and other characters (Bothwell, for example). It’s a little hard to follow as I’m not very well versed in this era of history. Here I am sitting wondering who are these people Mary keeps on talking about. You get the hang of it after a while but it’s a little frustrating and you feel a little lost. lso, you get the feeling you’re on a yo-yo as you read this book. First the rebels are coming. Nope they’re not. Oh Mary’s going to this house. Nope she’s going to this one. Oh yes Mary will have her throne. Nope she’s just going to this other house for now. It was sort of tiring reading like this throughout the book.
Once you get the know the three characters and as the plot slowly progresses, this is where it gets messy. I started to like Mary a lot first, and I started sympathizing with her. Considering I didn’t like Elizabeth to start with (when reading The Virgin’s Lover), Mary was a very romantic version of a Queen and reminded me of a little bit of Catalina (from The Constant Princess). I was neutral towards Bess, and George, he’s a sweetheart! you can’t help but know he’s a giant big teddy bear that needs a big squeeze. Towards the middle of the book, when Mary starts plotting more, and George falls in love with her, my opinion changes. Bess just can’t shut up about money, and gets mildly irritating. On top of that she’s a jealous harpy but you can’t really blame her. She’s up against a Queen. George still reminds loveable, but a little on the dumb side. Queen Mary, she started becoming a lying twit. Towards the end, everything shifts again. I didn’t like Mary anymore. The spoiled brat. I admired Bess for her strength but just wished she would shut up about her lands and money. George, well, I’d have to say he brought it all on himself even though he’s still a sweetheart. The plot works well with these characters, as all three of them develop and you see them change drastically.
Aside from the slow plot, I think it’s the characters that managed to saved this book from being set aside. They grabbed my attention, albeit not as quick as I hoped. Perhaps I had too many expectations. However it could be because I don’t know much about this era of history and perhaps a bit of background research would have helped me. Overall, not one of Gregory’s best work but it’s an all right read.
I give it a 6 out of 10.