Friday, January 02, 2009

Best Books Before 2008: The Queen's Fool

It's that time of year again, and your friendly neighborhood librarians are eager to tell you about the best books of 2008. Here is Nancy with a review of her favorite book read this year, though it was published earlier.

The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

For those of you who like historical fiction, this is a novel full of richly drawn characters that spans the reigns of Edward, Bloody Mary, and Queen Elizabeth I. Hannah Green, a young Jewish woman of fourteen years old has fled with her father from Spain (and the Inquisition) to London. Her father owns a small printing press and procures rare books for nobility. One day Robert Dudley, handsome, powerful, son of the protector of King Edward, visits the shop and discovers Hannah’s gift of the “Sight", the ability to foresee the future. He immediately decides to bring Hannah to court as a “holy fool” using her sight to advise the dying King Edward, his successor, Queen Mary, and ultimately Elizabeth I. However, Lord Dudley has another task for Hannah – to be his spy at court and report all “activities.” Subsequently, Hannah is drawn into court intrigue where conspiracies blossom, religion is held supreme, and dalliances change like the seasons. She has avoided the arranged marriage her father has committed her to and will do anything for the charismatic Dudley. Ms. Gregory is an excellent storyteller who makes history come alive through her accurate historical research. After I read one of her novels (this being the third one I’ve read – Wideacre and The Other Boleyn Girl) I find myself on the Internet trying to learn more about the historical period of the novel. Here’s a question I’ll pose to you – was Elizabeth I really the Virgin Queen? You can find out the answer in this book. I think you’ll be surprised.

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