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The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

Carla
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Post by Carla » Tue September 23rd, 2008, 3:05 pm

[quote=""michellemoran""]My guess is that when you become as big as PG, your publishing house doesn't tell you what to write. You tell them what you're going to write, and everyone says, "GREAT!"[/quote]

Absolutely, because they know it will sell in the millions on the strength of the name.

I wonder what attracted the author to this period, though? Mary's personal rule in Scotland was a wild ride full of thrills and spills, whereas her imprisonment with Bess of Hardwick seems to have consisted mostly of embroidery and bitchy gossip - not very promising material on the face of it :-)
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Curiosity Shoppe
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Post by Curiosity Shoppe » Mon August 31st, 2009, 7:45 pm

[quote=""Misfit""]She'd have been better off dealing with the Darnley and Bothwell period of her life than this.[/quote]

My guess would be that PG chose not to deal with the Darnley-Bothwell period of Mary's life because it didn't give her nearly enough opportunities to vilify Elizabeth while simultaneously putting Mary on a pedestal.

Not that I'm, you know, irritated or anything by that trend in PG's books. *cough*

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Post by Chatterbox » Tue September 1st, 2009, 6:42 pm

I think she wanted to explore the theme of old vs new aristocracy in England. She's never written about anyone living outside England (as Scotland was at this time), but had written about Cecil. A key theme of the book is definitely the clash of cultures in England between the old nobility and their ideas of how a kingdom should be governed and who should do that governing (Shrewsbury, Norfolk) and those of the 'upstarts' like Bess and Cecil (one of whom Shrewsbury loves, as long as he can delude himself about her true nature; the other of whom he loathes but needs to respect because his queen does.)

It's a fascinating question that is also explored at length (and much more effectively) in Mantel's Wolf Hall. I don't think PG did it very well, however. And I don't think the book was about Mary vs Elizabeth (if that had been her intent, she would have had Elizabeth as a narrator). It was about how Mary's presence in the country crystallized this cultural conflict and brought it to the point where there was an actual rebellion, where the old aristocracy had to either submit to Cecil and Elizabeth or revolt alongside Norfolk, Percy, etc. in Mary's name.

This was the book that convinced me PG is a bad writer, but very intelligent & with lots of insight.

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Post by Miss Moppet » Wed September 2nd, 2009, 11:33 am

PG has a bee in her bonnet about the north/south divide and the negative effects the Reformation had on the country, especially the north of England which was more conservative and staunchly Catholic than the south. (Having grown up in Lancashire I can see where she's coming from.) Thus the 1569 rebellion was a natural subject for her. Perhaps it does deserve more attention in literature but I agree it wasn't the most fascinating part of Mary's story to say the least.

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Post by Chatterbox » Wed September 2nd, 2009, 2:20 pm

Interesting, then, that she never really looked at the Pilgrimage of Grace and Rob Askew in her Tudor meanderings... although I suppose the themes are there in the conflict between Mary and Anne Boleyn in TOBG. Interesting; I'd never really thought of her as a romantic/nostalgic, in that sense of the phrase, and yet that would seem to flow from such a perspective.

Agree that is not the most interesting part of Mary's story, which is why I don't really see the book as Mary's story, despite the title. It's the story of the mismatched Shrewsburys, with their different backgrounds and expectations as a way of looking at English society.

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Miss Moppet
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Post by Miss Moppet » Wed September 2nd, 2009, 2:35 pm

[quote=""Chatterbox""] Interesting; I'd never really thought of her as a romantic/nostalgic, in that sense of the phrase, and yet that would seem to flow from such a perspective.

Agree that is not the most interesting part of Mary's story, which is why I don't really see the book as Mary's story, despite the title. [/quote]

PG lives in Yorkshire, which sheds light on her taking the northern POV. I've often wondered if she is Catholic, but I wouldn't assume so.

No, TOQ isn't really Mary's story, which accounts in part for the bad reviews and general disappointment - a lot of readers must have felt that it didn't do what it said on the tin.

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princess garnet
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Post by princess garnet » Fri September 4th, 2009, 1:41 am

[quote=""Miss Moppet""] I've often wondered if she is Catholic, but I wouldn't assume so.[/quote]
On her website she says her parents are Catholic and Anglican but isn't of a particular faith.

The only two Mary, Queen of Scots novels I've read are by Plaidy: Road to Fotheringay and Captive Queen of Scots. The 2nd book covers Mary's imprisonment in Scotland prior to her flight to England.

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Post by trueblood » Sun September 6th, 2009, 7:54 am

[quote=""Miss Moppet""]PG lives in Yorkshire, which sheds light on her taking the northern POV. I've often wondered if she is Catholic, but I wouldn't assume so.

No, TOQ isn't really Mary's story, which accounts in part for the bad reviews and general disappointment - a lot of readers must have felt that it didn't do what it said on the tin.[/quote]

I think that's absolutely right- the other characters kind of put Mary in the backseat, and I felt she was always mysterious. Shrewsbury and Bess seem to put their motives and thoughts out much more than the QoS herself.

Ironically, of the few Gregory novels I've read, this is one I really enoyed. (I also liked Boleyn Inheritance.) I would have liked to have seen Mary herself fleshed out more, but I enjoyed the Bess character. I was sorry to see this practical, accomplished woman losing in much of what she'd built up in what should have been her best time.

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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Sun September 6th, 2009, 11:03 am

I remember an interview with PG where she said she wanted to write about Bess of Hardwick - perhaps this was the book? Maybe the MQoS link was a marketing ploy, as Mary is probably better known than Bess to people who aren't that familiar with history, and therefore might have appealed to more people.
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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Mon September 7th, 2009, 8:50 am

I haven't read the book, but isn't it written from Bess of Hardwick's point of view, or at least one of the points of view?
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