Two queens fighting for dominance and the English throne, threaten to tear apart the lives of George Talbot and his new wife Bess of Hardwick.
Although readers of Philippa Gregory’s novels understand that there is a sense of fiction about them as historical records during the Tudor times weren’t particularly reliable, there is no doubting the depth of research that she has to carry out before even beginning her novels.
The Other Queen focuses on Mary Queen of Scots as she is held prisoner by Elizabeth I. She is held captive by George Talbot and his new wife Bess on the orders of the Queen of England until they decide what should be done with her. But it isn’t long before ‘the other queen’ begins to plot for her freedom and Talbot begins to fall for the charms of the beautiful Queen of Scots.
Told through the perspective of three very different characters, the book charts the level of suspicion, fear and rebellion that existed in Queen Elizabeth’s reign at the time, bringing to life the horror and the tangled webs of politics at the time.
But the trouble is that the book is filled with characters who are prideful, selfish, greedy and naive that it is difficult to feel any sympathy for any of them. All Beth is concerned with is her fortune, Talbot torn by loyalty and pride to both queens and the Queen of Scots who will do anything including manipulating people’s feelings to get what she wants – even her confidence and arrogance makes it difficult to pity her situation.
While Gregory gives us a fascinating insight into their minds and feelings, it feels ever so slightly vague in other ways that once again makes it a difficult book to appreciate – no matter how fascinating the build up to the ending is.
It is a typical work of the author in terms of style, but it feels as though it is lacking in any form of passion and is slight in details by skipping forward in some quite considerable speed.
However, it is still a fascinating insight that offers a different perspective of the rival to Queen Elizabeth and potentially changes people’s opinion of her as a queen.
The Other Queen is available to buy through Amazon now.