The Queen's Fool - Philippa Gregory Hannah Verde "Green" is a young Jewish girl who poses as a boy to apprentice to her father, a bookkeeper. But when Lord Robert Dudley realizes she has "The Sight", she becomes King Edward's Fool. Hannah The Fool gets to experience the King's death, Queen Mary's rise to the throne, and Princess Elizabeth's eternal scheming to get on the throne all from the front seat of the court. But the real question is: Will Hannah ever find Twoo Lurve?

The last Philippa Gregory book I read, The Other Boleyn Girl, I called a guilty pleasure. It wasn't that amazing, the history was iffy, the characters 1-dimensional, but it was amusing and entertaining. I wasn't bored in the slightest.

Oddly enough, I found myself enjoying "The Queen's Fool" even more than I enjoyed TOBG. I don't know much about the historical accuracy, the characters might have been even more annoying, but I was definitely more engaged in the story and more interested.

NOTE: History isn't my forte. I appreciate historical accuracy in a book, but it's going to have to be pretty blatantly WRONG for me to notice it (i.e. Jeans in the Middle Ages type thing). Therefore, if you are reading this review to see how accurate TQF is, I would suggest you move to another review, because I won't be able to answer that question very adequately at all.

Probably the biggest, most obnoxious and annoying aspect of the book for me was Hannah Verde herself. There was quite a bit I didn't like about her.

1. Anachronistic. Yeah, I know, I just noted I "Don't do history" and my first complaint is about historical accuracy. But I put this under "Things that are obvious an idiot would know". I'm sorry but I can't believe a 16th century woman would be saying these things:

"I don't wish to marry...I should like to have my own shop and print my own books."

"It's not you I dislike. It's marriage itself. I wouldn't choose marriage at all. What is it about the servitude of women hoping for safety to men who cannot even keep them safe?"

"I need to be a woman in my own right, and not only a wife...This is the woman I've become."

Women of this day got married and had kids. That was it. There was no big push for women's rights or women to have jobs outside of being a wife and mother. Sorry, if you want to do this plot device, travel to the 1950's. Even then, though, the women STILL were expected to be wives and mothers FIRST AND ONLY and were SHAMED if they had jobs (just ask my grandmothers!).

2. Mary Sue-ness. Hannah has "The Sight", some weird, undefined phenomenon that takes a historical fiction book into the fantasy realm. Women are jealous of her. She befriends Queen Mary AND Princess Elizabeth and are buddy-buddy with them up until the end. She has several men chasing to get in her skirts. She is shapely and attractive and has desires that are NOT common in her time period. Hannah, come on down, you are the newest Mary Sue!!

3. Miss Passivity. Much like with Mary Boleyn, Hannah barely does ANYTHING of her own volition. Much of her life is being pushed around by everyone else. Now, I know earlier that I said that women were expected to be wives and mothers, and basically didn't have rights. That is true, but I still think it is possible to show a historically accurate woman that isn't a doormat all the time, letting everyone walk all over her.

4. Inconsistent. Hannah spends much of the book fearing that she will be revealed as Jewish. And THAT is why she clings to the VERY Catholic Queen, Mary, who killed several "heretics" during her time. Uh...wait, that doesn't make sense! Now, this COULD have been done well, if Hannah had met and befriended Mary (which she did), but had serious reservations and fears about Mary--something like "Mary is a woman I look up to...but she could kill me at any moment for being Jewish!" But this NEVER HAPPENS.

And yet...she says THIS:

"I couldn't pray to a God who would allow my mother to be burned to death. I couldn't pray to a God who could be invoked by the torchbearers."

But you can serve a Catholic Queen with no problems? Not even some "Oh, I like Queen Mary, but she's burning people, like the Catholic Church burned my Mom, oh no what do I do?" Huh? How does THAT make any sense?

5. Holier Than Thou. Hannah flirts around with the married Lord Robert Dudley. But when Princess Elizabeth does this, WHAT A HORRIBLE SLUT THAT GIRL IS!!! HOW DARE SHE!!!

"The Queen had to watch the man she still passionately loved at another woman's beck and call, and that woman, Elizabeth, the unwanted sister who had stolen Mary's Father, was now seducing her husband."

And yet, when Lord Robert's wife, entrusted with Hannah's care, treats Hannah like dirt, thinking she has fooled around with Lord Robert (and in some ways, Hannah did), GOD FORBID WHAT A HORRIBLE WOMAN!! HOW DARE she not treat Hannah with the utmost respect!

And then, when Princess Elizabeth rebels against the Catholic ways, SHAME ON HER for defying the laws! Oh, Hannah still practices her Jewish ways in secret? Oh, THAT'S OKAY!! Geesh, get it right!

6. Lack of compassion. At one point, Hannah learns Daniel has cheated on her. She is understandably upset (I truly did feel sorry for her and was glad when she reacted appropriately). But when Amy Dudley's husband, Hannah's beloved Lord Robert, does the same thing, does Hannah show ANY compassion or empathy to Amy? HELL NO!!

7. Mary Boleyn 2.0, New and Improved! There were several times where I found it hard to differentiate between Mary from TOBG and Hannah from TQF. Both were passive, holier-than-thou, women who admired their Pure and Righteous Queen Who Can Do No Wrong, and fall in love with the most boring of men. Even Hannah's supposed Jewishness felt fake; more like painting a white rose red.

8. Forgetfulness. After Hannah learns about Daniel's baby momma, she leaves his house and lives with her father. Understandable. She also doesn't immediately take him back. Good. But then, after the battle of Calais, suddenly, she forgets how he cheated on her and talks about how "patient and longsuffering" Daniel was, how he "waited for her" until she left court and married him. Um, girlfriend, no, he wasn't patient. If he were patient, he wouldn't have a baby momma. You have a VERY short memory, don't you?

For once, I'd like to read a historical novel in which the female main character was correct to her time period, wasn't a pushover, had actual real female friends and LIKED them, wasn't fawned all over by every male within a 30 mile radius, and had simple human emotions such as compassion, mercy, understanding, and kindness.

But enough about Hannah, I think I've worn myself out talking about her.

The other characters are 1-dimensional like in PG's TOBG. Queen Mary is Pure and Holy and All Things Good. While I liked this better than painting her as some devil woman just because she had a lot of people put to death, it got to be over the top on numerous occasions. Princess Elizabeth felt almost EXACTLY like Anne Boleyn from TOBG: scheming, playing around with men, being evil and thinking of herself and her power over her country. Again, while I don't think Princess/Queen Elizabeth was all Perfection, I don't think she was the harlot that PG tried to portray her as.

I got no sense of Hannah's father's character; he felt very much a blank slate. Daniel felt like a selfish, domineering pig. I have no idea WHY he and Hannah Fell In Lurve. Lord Robert was only a self-serving rake; he didn't care about anyone other than himself. Daniel's mother and sisters were terrible people--well, actually, I had more heart for them, realizing that they were scared and didn't want to lose Daniel. But the way Hannah talks about them, you would think they chased her with pitchforks and playfully tied her to the lit BBQ every so often.

In fact, none of the women, other than Queen Mary and Hannah herself are portrayed as being "good". It's sad that Hannah can't have a single female friend--and not someone like the Queen, someone of Hannah's own rank.

I did like William, the court jester. He was pretty amusing at times. Given the 1 dimensional nature of the characters, he was probably the most interesting character to me.

The story is what I think really gripped me. Even though Hannah drove me bonkers, I was curious about what would happen to her. I think also PG writing from the point of view of a fictional character helped her story; she had a lot more flexibility and could show us the little things in court--things that the bigger players, like Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth wouldn't have seen. Sure, it's awful convenient that Hannah gets in the employ of the Court and sees all that she does, but I'll suspend disbelief for that. What I find ridiculous, honestly, is "The Sight". I have no idea why THAT was included (and I do realize that is what gets her hired, but geesh, there are other ways!).

The writing was serviceable. Nothing glaringly bad. My experience listening on audiobook was good--though I did miss the woman who narrated TOBG. I did wonder whether Hannah, a Jewish girl, would reference Judas Iscariot:

"We ran from her, like a pair of Judas Iscariots, desperate to save our own skins."

(If this would have been likely or not, please comment and tell me!!)

I think if the character of Hannah had been stronger, less annoying, and more unique (less like Mary Boleyn from TOBG), then this book would have been more enjoyable to read. It's a decent read, one that makes you head over to Wiki and check up on some long-forgotten history. Don't go in expecting brilliance, and you are bound to be pleased.