Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Queen's Fool... by Philippa Gregory

I like Philippa Gregory's books.... This latest book that I've read is another one I enjoy immensely. Using a fictitious character, a Jew called Hannah who became the Queen's fool, the author brings us into the world of these 2 sisters who ruled England one after another; one as a Catholic Queen and the other a Protestant Queen. Both shared the same father, Henry VIII. One mother deposed of the other, yet both were bastardized by their own father. Ironic! Children were mere pawns in a power play too!

In a time when adversaries were ruthlessly cut down, beheaded or sent to the Tower, the author brings us into the complex relationship of the 2 sisters through Hannah, the fool and the Jew. It also highlighted the plight of Jews who suffered under the Inquisition.... Jews never had it easy even back then. The punishment for heresy was death by burning on the stake.

I enjoy this book greatly in part because it was set at a time in history, the Tudor Century not only because of its iconic monarchs, Henry VIII and Elizabeth 1 but one that turned the Church of England topsy turvy because of the anxiety to get an heir to the Tudor dynasty, an example of how man can twist and turn religion to their own benefit, something which we see in our midst too now. Plus lust had a great deal to do with turning the church topsy turvy... one man's lust, Henry VIII's.

Mary's mother was Catherine of Aragon, the wife, whom Henry VIII forsook for Anne Boleyn, the mother of Elizabeth, whom he later beheaded! Mary is portrayed as the suffering queen whose life turned out very much like her own mother's, forsaken by her husband, Philip of Spain and her people because of her fervor in wanting to bring England back to the true faith which plunged much of England into a blood bath in the hunt for heretics.

The character of Hannah invites us to share the experiences of the Jews who scattered all throughout Europe, living in fear of being labelled heretics and therefore burned at the stakes.

It took me quite a while to finish the book but it's one that I truly enjoy; many lessons and parallel comparison to our society today too. A more than nice read. Book 2 for this year!

4 comments:

SM Ting said...

ok....i will read it!!! thanks for the review.

AJ7 said...

I really enjoy this Tudor series... tremendously. Now I am looking into reading her other works. She intertwine history into her story telling and really brings it to life... makes good literature reading too... 8) Thanks for recommending them to me! 8)

SM Ting said...

finally completed it....really really sad. The ending was a bit of anti climax...maybe i expected a little more about elizabeth. going to start on another of her book now.

AJ7 said...

LOL! You caught the bug too... what's the next book you're reading???