Philippa Gregory is the author of such best-selling novels as The Other Boleyn Girl, The Queen's Fool, The Virgin's Lover, The Constant Princess, and The Boleyn Inheritance. Gregory has proven herself to be a master storyteller of the Tudor era in British history.
In her newest book, The Other Queen, Gregory tells her version of the captive years of Mary, Queen of Scots. George Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and his new wife, Bess of Hardwick, are selected by Queen Elizabeth to house Queen Mary after she flees the rebels in Scotland. The novel is told from these three main characters' viewpoints.
George and Bess are loyal subjects of Queen Elizabeth and in taking Queen Mary into their care, they hope to further prove their loyalty, if not their coffers. However, housing Mary isn't as simple as it seems. Not only does it nearly bankrupt them, but it's impossible to stop the plotting of those who want Queen Mary restored to the throne of Scotland . . . and England itself. George and Bess are drawn into this intrigue in different ways which proves difficult for their marriage and their relationships with Queen Elizabeth and the powerful William Cecil as well as the "other" queen, Mary Queen of Scots.
While a good read, The Other Queen isn't of the same caliber as The Other Boleyn Girl or The Queen's Fool. It gets rather repetitious and Gregory doesn't paint any of the characters very sympathetically. There isn't a lot of action in this novel, and the rich dialogue of The Other Boleyn Girl is definitely missing here. However, even a Gregory novel that falls short of The Other Boleyn Girl is still a book worth reading. If nothing else, it's whet my appetite for more information about Mary, Queen of Scots - and that's always a good thing.
• The Other Queen at Amazon.com
• The Other Queen at Amazon UK
• The Other Queen at Amazon Canada