Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Review: The Other Queen

"The Other Queen" should be called "The Other Piece of Crap" by Philippa Gregory.

Let's start by saying that nothing actually happens in this book. You spend 430 pages waiting with the characters of the book for something to happen. And then you wait some more. And oh- wait- an uprising might happen- score! Finally some action! Oh, wait- just kidding. Never mind. Back to waiting. The only reason I kept reading was because I thought the waiting was leading to something momentous. What a letdown.

This historical fiction by the author of "The Other Boleyn Girl" is about Mary, Queen of Scots and her captivity under the watchful eyes of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife, Bess of Hardwick. It is told from all three characters' perspectives, which is great, but incredibly repetitive. The book goes like this:

Mary: "Oh, I'm so pretty and vain and everyone loves me and desires me and one day I will be free from this captivity and rule both England and Scotland instead of my heretic cousin Elizabeth. P.S. Did I tell you I'm really hot?"

George: "I have such honor and dignity and I shall do my duty to serve Queen Elizabeth yet Mary of Scots is so sexy and I want her body. WHAT TO DO?!"

Bess: "I fuckin' hate you all for depleting my fortune because I love money."

The characters are all so one-dimensional and terribly unlikable, even as you're reading from their perspectives. Mary spends the whole book going on and on about how beautiful she is and how she can win any man to her desire, which is not only irritating but it is hard to believe. It would have been nice to see some of her vulnerable side. Obviously we'll never know what actually went on in Mary's head, but she was just a woman with normal insecurities and doubts. Especially all that she had been through- forced abdication, murder of her close advisor and her second husband, rape by her third husband (debatable), being forced to flee to England to her cousin's protection yet not really receiving it- all those were fascinating events that were not really in the book. It seems as if all the exciting events of Mary's life already happened and we only get a glimpse of it through reminiscing.

George Talbot and Bess' relationship was somewhat interesting because they were completely on opposite sides. Bess is clearly loyal to the Queen Elizabeth (and thus William Cecil), and George Talbot just looks like a stupid fool in love with Mary. George is such an idiot that it makes me want to slap him. I felt nothing for his love towards Mary because Mary didn't have any admirable qualities in the book so it makes George look really foolish to want her. I hate that it reinforces a very common male stereotype of a guy who just falls in love with a pretty face and forget everything else that matters.

Bess seems like a woman who would be really interesting to get to know if she wasn't solely talking about money every 5 seconds. Yes, Bess, we get that housing Mary is costing you all your fortune that you worked so hard to get- I get it and can sympathizes, but again, is that all there is to you?!? Boring.

I think it's time to stop writing, Phillipa Gregory. I have read "The Boleyn Inheritance" and "The Constant Princess" and it just seems like you've stopped being able to bring fascinating real people to life. All three of these books had the same theme of repetitiveness and one dimensional characters.


1 comment:

  1. i couldn't agree more, this one was by far my least favorite of all her books. sad :-(