Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Queen's Fool - Philippa Gregory (January/06)

I was so disappointed with this novel. I had read two of Gregory's novels all ready and really enjoyed them, so I thought that this would just be the next enjoyable read and a good way to start the new year. I did not like it. It started off really interesting, with the main character being a member of the poorer class, and not a royalty member like the main character was in The Other Boelyn Girl and The Constant Princess, but that quickly lost its appeal to me. I think the best way that I can describe my disappointment was I wanted to know more about the royal court, I was not interested in someone that was not even connected to it at all times. It is a hard book for me to digest because one minute you think that you are supposed to concentrating on Hannah Green, the main character, and then the next minute all the focus is on the royal court and you wonder what is happening to Hannah. I can see how some people would like this method of telling the story, but it just annoyed me.

When the novel opens we find out that Hannah is a Jew on the run. The Jewish religion has been banned from most of the countries of the world and Hannah is constantly looking for a place where she can be save. This takes her to England and through a series of events into the English court where she serves both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I while she is still just a princess waiting for her sister to step aside. Hannah is very much an early feminist, her father has led her to believe that she can do whatever she wants as he dressed her up as his apprentice, so she has always known mens clothing. This leads her to some interesting scenerios because she is betrothed to a Jewish male, and she has a hard time getting around to marrying him. At first, the male, Daniel, annoyed me because he seemed really pushy and she just wanted to be herself, but by the end of the novel she was too feminist for me and he was just a typical male. Do not get me wrong, feminism is good, but she was annoying about it, I just have to say it. You spend the whole book waiting for them to get together and then when they finally do, she rejects him again. It is almost comical, but annoying at the same time.

The backdrop to what could be called a romance story, is the British court and Hannah's role as the Queen's fool. She is not your typical fool, though, because in some things she is actually quite smart and has the ability to forsee the future. She has visions, and one of her chief purposes in the novel is to advise the queen, princess, and other allies that she has collected along the way. Her father is a book seller, who finds that his books are always breaking one rule or another depending on who is in power. It has all the makings of an interesting novel, it just did not interest me. I still think that if the last hundred pages or so were not there I would like it a lot more. The ending is particualarly bad because a lot of things happen and she gets seperated from Daniel once again, and when she finally gets back with him... the novel just ends. I wanted to know what happened with them, were they happy, did she leave again. It just seems that in the end all that mattered was the happenings at court and not Hannah afterall. That bothered me. A lot of things bothered me. Still, I can't give it a terrible grade because there were some good parts.

I give it a 3/5

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