Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Queen's Fool - Philippa Gregory

Due to the craziness of life, I have fallen behind in updating the blog - something I knew would happen, but have worked hard against. But, the good news is that I am in the middle of some really great books right now - every night before bed it's hard to pick which one I want to continue with, and I worry that I'll just get so engrossed that I'll end up reading much past my bedtime. But, these are good problems to have. Now, back to the books...after reading The Queen's Fool, I have decided that I am going to take a break from Ms. Gregory for awhile. Not that I didn't enjoy the book - this one was quite good, just that there's only so much of Tudor England I can take in a year. This book features Hannah Green, a young girl from Spain with the gift of sight, the ability to tell the future. Somewhat innocent given her youth, she is unable to keep her mouth shut, and in a time where people are eager to ferret out heresy, her talents put both her and her single father at risk. To compound matters, Hannah's family is Jewish, hiding their faith in a Catholic country, ruled by Queen Mary. Hannah is brought to the court as a holy fool and fortells Mary's ascension to the throne, as well as the heartbreak she will suffer at the hands of her Spanish suitor. Hannah also spends a great deal of time with Mary's half-sister Elizabeth, a practicing Protestant and the daughter of Anne Boleyn. Life at the court is full of treachery, and Hannah tries to live between that world and the world of her father and a potential husband. Again, as with all of Gregory's novels, Hannah is stuck in a world that requires her to become a woman, but where she fights to hang on to her independence. I found the story of religious difference in England to be an interesting focus on this book, though at times I felt the discussions among Hannah's family about their Judaism to be a bit forced and awkward. Bringing an outsider to the court, however, provided a welcome perspective - though Hannah's admiration for both Mary and Elizabeth, despite their purely self-centered and spiteful ways was disappointing. Overall, another enjoyable soap opera in novel form.

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