The Queen's Fool: A Novel by Philippa GregoryThe Queen's Fool: A Novel by Philippa Gregory

The Queen's Fool: A Novel

byPhilippa Gregory

Paperback | February 4, 2004

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#1 New York Times bestselling author and “queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory weaves a spellbinding tale of a young woman with the ability to see the future in an era when destiny was anything but clear.

Winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee with her father from their home in Spain. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee; she has the gift of “Sight,” the ability to foresee the future, priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward’s protector, who brings her to court as a “holy fool” for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up with her own yearnings and desires.

Teeming with vibrant period detail and peopled by characters seamlessly woven into the sweeping tapestry of history, The Queen’s Fool is a rich and emotionally resonant gem from a masterful storyteller.
Philippa Gregory is the author of fourteen previous novels. Wideacre, her debut, was a New York Times bestseller and the first in a trilogy that included The Favored Child and Meridon. A writer and broadcaster for radio and television, she lives in England. BookWraps: Authors talk about their books and writing. Check out the BookWrap...
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Title:The Queen's Fool: A NovelFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:512 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 1.1 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.25 × 1.1 inPublished:February 4, 2004Publisher:Washington Square PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0743246071

ISBN - 13:9780743246071

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Philippa Gregory's Best Novel The story is told from Hannah Green's perspective, a young Jewish girl who flees Spain with her father to escape persecution. Hannah is a seer, a sought after talent during the troubled times for the Tudor court, so she is brought to court has a fool, first to King Edward, then to Queen Mary and then Princess Elizabeth. The story is full of drama, passion and disloyalty, Everyone waiting for King Edward to die, while Mary fought for her throne, and Elizabeth battles to be the next Queen. And through all this Hannah the Fool was torn between her loyalty to both Mary and Elizabeth, and her love for two men, her Master Sir Robert Dudley and her betrothed Daniel Carpenter. The Queen's Fool is a beautifully written, memorable characters that make the story come alive. Philippa Gregory's best book, I would recommend this book not just to historical fiction lover's, this book would captivate anyone.
Date published: 2018-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Tudor Novel! I have read all of Gregory's Tudor novels and this one is by far my favorite. The main character is strong and has a very interesting story, along with the mix of real life characters this book stands out from others!
Date published: 2018-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great read about the Tudors For an author who turns out so many books, it is amazing that they are all well researched and imaginative. Gregory does not disappoint.
Date published: 2017-11-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating I was surprised to enjoy this one, written in the point of Hanna Green with elements of the supernatural, somehow masterfully worked into Tudor History.
Date published: 2017-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tudoriffic! Philippa Gregory weaves a wonderful tale with Hannah Green and many recognizable historical figures and historical events. Absolutely wonderful!
Date published: 2017-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It! The story is told from Hannah Green's perspective, a young Jewish girl who flees Spain with her father to escape persecution. Hannah is a seer, a sought after talent during the troubled times for the Tudor court, so she is brought to court has a fool, first to King Edward, then to Queen Mary and then Princess Elizabeth. The story is full of drama, passion and disloyalty, Everyone waiting for King Edward to die, while Mary fought for her throne, and Elizabeth battles to be the next Queen. And through all this Hannah the Fool was torn between her loyalty to both Mary and Elizabeth, and her love for two men, her Master Sir Robert Dudley and her betrothed Daniel Carpenter. The Queen's Fool is a beautifully written, memorable characters that make the story come alive. Philippa Gregory's best book, I would recommend this book not just to historical fiction lover's, this book would captivate anyone.
Date published: 2017-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Story Very different from the other Tudor books but still very well written and captivating.
Date published: 2017-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites from Gregory This one has to be my favourite out of the Tudor novels Gregory has done (and the Other Bolyen Girl if I can ignore the whole incest thing). Just a different take on Queen Mary and the dying days of Edwards reign along with the whole Jewish dynamic makes it so much more interesting. And from a more common perspective too, makes it interesting. Overall, I would re-read this one time and again.
Date published: 2017-07-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Captivating story This was a great story of Mary I's court. Often history shows Mary as a cruel figure, but Gregory's book really brings her to life and the dynamics of her time. Additionally, the protagonist is so dynamic and interesting you want her story to end well.
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Philippa Gregory is Queen Philippa Gregory outdoes herself again in another novel centralizing on the rise and fall of the Tudors. In this story the Tudor court life is viewed through the eyes of Hannah, a young Jewish girl fleeing persecution from her home country of Spain. She becomes King Edward's fool, then Queen Mary's, where we see Mary's struggle to claim and establish her right to rule (mostly challenged by Elizabeth's efforts) through Hannah's account. This was another beautiful continuation of Gregory's Tudor series, and although much of the storyline was focused on Mary and Elizabeth's relationship, Hannah's own story is worth reading unto itself.
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it I really liked this book. Hannah is a great character and it was interesting to see the court from a different perspective.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Satisfied I couldn't put it down. It was beautifully written. The author showed how the main character matured throughout the story and it felt very real to me. I learned so much about history from this novel, although the main character was fictional. If only all history books were written this way.
Date published: 2013-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BEAUTIFUL !!! (very little spoilers) I’ve read The Other Boleyn Girl, The Constant Princess, The Boleyn Inheritance and now, The Queen’s Fool. I must say, although I loved all, this one is one of my favorites. The story is told through the eyes of Hannah Green, a jewish girl being pursued by the Inquisition and pushed to flee Spain with her father. She’s no ordinary girl though, she has a special gift; the gift of “sight”, the gift to see the future. Once in England, where the throne is in the hands of the dying King Edward, the only male heir of Henry VIII, Hannah meets the charming Sir Robert Dudley, who takes her under his protection. Sir Robert Dudley is the son of King Edward’s protector. The story essentially develops after King Edward’s death. It unfolds the rivalry between MARY, devout Catholic, daughter of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, and ELIZABETH, fervent Protestant, daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. It is Mary who gains the throne and Hannah is begged as a fool in her court. Hannah’s also a spy for Sir Robert Dudley, who she’s fallen passionately in love with, and who’s often disloyal to Mary while he’s plotting for Elizabeth’s accession to the throne. The story is rich in drama, love, passion and disgrace in an England where Mary struggles to keep her throne and offer an heir to England; Elizabeth battles to be the next Queen; Hannah is torn apart between her loyalty to both and torn apart between a life at a risky court, near her flame Sir Robert Dudley and a “normal” safe life, far from court, with her betrothed Daniel. It is beautifully written, rich in emotion and a page turner. It grips you taking you into the English Royal Court of 1553.
Date published: 2010-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating from start to finish! I have always been skeptical about picking up a book that focuses on the Tudor period as I was afraid that the storyline would bore me. However, I was very glad that I took the chance to read The Queen's Fool. This novel is the first I have read from Philippa Gregory and it certainly won't be the last. I was immediately drawn into the story from the very first page of the novel, and by the time I reached the final page, I found myself wanting more! The Queen's Fool is filled with memorable characters and vivid descriptions that brought the story to life. The story is fast-paced, and it will never cease to amaze readers. The Queen's Fool will captivate any reader, whether a fan of historical fiction or not. I highly recommend this novel!
Date published: 2010-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gregory does it again! The Queen's fool is another entertaining and well written historical fiction novel by Philippa Gregory. The story centres around a fictional character, Hannah, who serves as a holy fool in the courts of the young King Edward (Henry VIII's and Jane Seymour's son) and Queen Mary (Henry's first child who becomes known in history as "Bloody Mary"). At Mary's request, Hannah also spends a considerable amount of time with Princess Elizabeth. I really enjoyed Hannah as the main character. She gets entangled in the mess of the English court but also has her own problems to deal with. She has to hide her true origins/religion and is in constant fear of being discovered as a Jew. She also struggles with growing up and her role as a young woman, and with her somewhat problematic relationship with her betrothed. If you are interested in reading Gregory's Tudor novels in order of the historical events, this novel comes after the Boleyn Inheritance and before the Virgin's Lover.
Date published: 2009-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book I thought it was better than The Other Bolyn Sister. I liked that it focuses on a commoner who was not a hero, but just trying to figure out which side was going to win ,in order to stay alive. It really accurately portrays the fear of living in such uncertain times.
Date published: 2009-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! Another gem from Phillipa Gregory, and a worthy continuation of the Tudor saga which has absolutely captivated me. Weonderfully written with characters that come alive right off the pages, this book will not let down anyone who decides to pick it up.
Date published: 2009-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting and captivating The story is told from Hannah Green’s perspective, a young Jewish girl who flees Spain with her father to escape persecution and lands in England. Hannah is a seer and has visions, a sought after talent during the troubled times for the Tudor court, she first serves King Edward, then his sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, as a holy fool. She is also a vassal to Robert Dudley who she adores. This is a very dangerous time where every action is under scrutiny and many lives are in peril due to laws against heresy, treason and witchcraft. Hannah must choose between the safe life as a commoner or being part of the extravagant life the royal family. This novel is fast-paced, interesting and captivating from start to finish. It is clear that Ms Gregory has a talent for writing entertaining historical fiction, with engaging narrative. Her characters are seemly woven between actual and fictional ones, with all their flaws and weaknesses. The heart of this novel is the reign of Bloody Mary, Queen of England seen through the sympathetic eyes of a young woman. This is a fresh portrayal of familiar figures and a new perspective on a dark period of England’s history. Serious history buffs may not like this novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Date published: 2008-07-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth the read Philippa Gregory's novels are full of romanance, excitement, suspense and History. I can't wait to start the next one! This book takes off from the Other Boleyn Girl - with Mary becoming queen and the struggle between her and her sister Elizabeth. You can't help wanting to know everything you can about the Tudors. I have read biographies, scanned web sites and watched movies. I love books that leave you hungry for more!
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More than Love. I loved this book as much as I adored the rest in this sequence of novels. You must read them all! They are fabulous!
Date published: 2007-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Gem by Gregory If you love historical fiction, Philippa Gregory does not disappoint. Gregory's novels excite, intrigue and inspire. After I finish one of her books, I can't help but start scanning the Internet for facts about the Tudor family.
Date published: 2007-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book ever This is an awesome book I couldn't stop reading it! I was so sad when the book was finished!! If you enjoy Historical, Fictional, Romance wow you will absolutely love this book it's simply amazing. The whole book is basically a climax. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
Date published: 2007-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating! I just finished this book and from the time I first picked it up to start reading it, I could barely put it down! Another great book by Philippa Gregory, who has recently become one of my favorite authors! I love the twists in the storyline especially Hannah, who has the gift of the "sight"!! This book has it all - intrigue, suspense, and a happy ending for Hannah for all you romantics out there!!
Date published: 2006-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Absolutely excellent book! I thoroughly enjoyed every page and so will you.
Date published: 2006-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Book The review already given pretty much sums up the plot. But I still have to say that this is a wonderful book and I love it. I have always wanted to read a book where Elizabeth I is not so virginal. It makes a very good read. And Mary! Poor Mary! Her sister was so mean to her. Mary is much maligned, but she was really a kind person. She only burnt Protestants because she thought that she was doing the country good. Monarchs have done worse. Great book! Philippa Gregory did very well, just like in The Other Boleyn Girl.
Date published: 2004-06-22

Read from the Book

Summer 1548 The girl, giggling and overexcited, was running in the sunlit garden, running away from her stepfather, but not so fast that he could not catch her. Her stepmother, seated in an arbor with Rosamund roses in bud all around her, caught sight of the fourteen-year-old girl and the handsome man chasing around the broad tree trunks on the smooth turf and smiled, determined to see only the best in both of them: the girl she was bringing up and the man she had adored for years. He snatched at the hem of the girl's swinging gown and caught her up to him for a moment. "A forfeit!" he said, his dark face close to her flushed cheeks. They both knew what the forfeit would be. Like quicksilver she slid from his grasp and dodged away, to the far side of an ornamental fountain with a broad circular bowl. Fat carp were swimming slowly in the water; Elizabeth's excited face was reflected in the surface as she leaned forward to taunt him. "Can't catch me!" " 'Course I can." She leaned low so that he could see her small breasts at the top of the square-cut green gown. She felt his eyes on her and the color in her cheeks deepened. He watched, amused and aroused, as her neck flushed rosy pink. "I can catch you any time I want to," he said, thinking of the chase of sex that ends in bed. "Come on then!" she said, not knowing exactly what she was inviting, but knowing that she wanted to hear his feet pounding the grass behind her, sense his hands outstretched to grab at her; and, more than anything else, to feel his arms around her, pulling her against the fascinating contours of his body, the scratchy embroidery of his doublet against her cheek, the press of his thigh against her legs. She gave a little scream and dashed away again down an allée of yew trees, where the Chelsea garden ran down to the river. The queen, smiling, looked up from her sewing and saw her beloved stepdaughter racing between the trees, her handsome husband a few easy strides behind. She looked down again at her sewing and did not see him catch Elizabeth, whirl her around, put her back to the red papery bark of the yew tree and clamp his hand over her half-open mouth. Elizabeth's eyes blazed black with excitement, but she did not struggle. When he realized that she would not scream, he took his hand away and bent his dark head. Elizabeth felt the smooth sweep of his moustache against her lips, smelled the heady scent of his hair, his skin. She closed her eyes and tipped back her head to offer her lips, her neck, her breasts to his mouth. When she felt his sharp teeth graze her skin, she was no longer a giggling child, she was a young woman in the heat of first desire. Gently he loosened his grip on her waist, and his hand stole up the firmly boned stomacher to the neck of her gown, where he could slide a finger down inside her linen to touch her breasts. Her nipple was hard and aroused; when he rubbed it she gave a little mew of pleasure that made him laugh at the predictability of female desire, a deep chuckle in the back of his throat. Elizabeth pressed herself against the length of his body, feeling his thigh push forward between her legs in reply. She had a sensation like an overwhelming curiosity. She longed to know what might happen next. When he made a movement away from her, as if to release her, she wound her arms around his back and pulled him into her again. She felt rather than saw Tom Seymour's smile of pleasure at her culpability, as his mouth came down on hers again and his tongue licked, as delicate as a cat, against the side of her mouth. Torn between disgust and desire at the extraordinary sensation, she slid her own tongue to meet his and felt the terrible intimacy of a grown man's intrusive kiss. All at once it was too much for her, and she shrank back from him, but he knew the rhythm of this dance which she had so lightheartedly invoked, and which would now beat through her very veins. He caught at the hem of her brocade skirt and pulled it up and up until he could get at her, sliding his practiced hand up her thighs, underneath her linen shift. Instinctively she clamped her legs together against his touch until he brushed, with calculated gentleness, the back of his hand on her hidden sex. At the teasing touch of his knuckles, she melted; he could feel her almost dissolve beneath him. She would have fallen if he had not had a firm arm around her waist, and he knew at that moment that he could have the king's own daughter, Princess Elizabeth, against a tree in the queen's garden. The girl was a virgin in name alone. In reality, she was little more than a whore. A light step on the path made him quickly turn, dropping Elizabeth's gown and putting her behind him, out of sight. Anyone could read the tranced willingness on the girl's face; she was lost in her desire. He was afraid it was the queen, his wife, whose love for him was insulted every day that he seduced her ward under her very nose: the queen, who had been entrusted with the care of her stepdaughter the princess, Queen Katherine who had sat at Henry VIII's deathbed but dreamed of this man. But it was not the queen who stood before him on the path. It was only a girl, a little girl of about nine years old, with big solemn dark eyes and a white Spanish cap tied under her chin. She carried two books strapped with bookseller's tape in her hand, and she regarded him with a cool objective interest, as if she had seen and understood everything. "How now, sweetheart!" he exclaimed, falsely cheerful. "You gave me a start. I might have thought you a fairy, appearing so suddenly." She frowned at his rapid, overloud speech, and then she replied, very slowly with a strong Spanish accent, "Forgive me, sir. My father told me to bring these books to Sir Thomas Seymour and they said you were in the garden." She proffered the package of books, and Tom Seymour was forced to step forward and take them from her hands. "You're the bookseller's daughter," he said cheerfully. "The bookseller from Spain." She bowed her head in assent, not taking her dark scrutiny from his face. "What are you staring at, child?" he asked, conscious of Elizabeth, hastily rearranging her gown behind him. "I was looking at you, sir, but I saw something most dreadful." "What?" he demanded. For a moment he was afraid she would say that she had seen him with the Princess of England backed up against a tree like a common doxy, her skirt pulled up out of the way and his fingers dabbling at her purse. "I saw a scaffold behind you," said the surprising child, and then turned and walked away as if she had completed her errand and there was nothing more for her to do in the sunlit garden. Tom Seymour whirled back to Elizabeth, who was trying to comb her disordered hair with fingers that were still shaking with desire. At once she stretched out her arms to him, wanting more. "Did you hear that?" Elizabeth's eyes were slits of black. "No," she said silkily. "Did she say something?" "She only said that she saw the scaffold behind me!" He was more shaken than he wanted to reveal. He tried for a bluff laugh, but it came out with a quaver of fear. At the mention of the scaffold Elizabeth was suddenly alert. "Why?" she snapped. "Why should she say such a thing?" "God knows," he said. "Stupid little witch. Probably mistook the word, she's foreign. Probably meant throne! Probably saw the throne behind me!" But this joke was no more successful than his bluster, since in Elizabeth's imagination the throne and the scaffold were always close neighbors. The color drained from her face, leaving her sallow with fear. "Who is she?" Her voice was sharp with nervousness. "Who is she working for?" He turned to look for the child but the allée was empty. At the distant end of it he could see his wife walking slowly toward them, her back arched to carry the pregnant curve of her belly. "Not a word," he said quickly to the girl at his side. "Not a word of this, sweetheart. You don't want to upset your stepmother." He hardly needed to warn her. At the first hint of danger the girl was wary, smoothing her dress, conscious always that she must play a part, that she must survive. He could always rely on Elizabeth's duplicity. She might be only fourteen but she had been trained in deceit every day since the death of her mother, she had been an apprentice cheat for twelve long years. And she was the daughter of a liar -- two liars, he thought spitefully. She might feel desire; but she was always more alert to danger or ambition than to lust. He took her cold hand and led her up the allée toward his wife Katherine. He tried for a merry smile. "I caught her at last!" he called out. He glanced around, he could not see the child anywhere. "We had such a race!" he cried. I was that child, and that was the first sight I ever had of the Princess Elizabeth: damp with desire, panting with lust, rubbing herself like a cat against another woman's husband. But it was the first and last time I saw Tom Seymour. Within a year, he was dead on the scaffold charged with treason, and Elizabeth had denied three times having anything more than the most common acquaintance with him. Copyright © 2004 by Philippa Gregory Limited

Bookclub Guide

Touchstone Reading Group Guide The Queen's Fool 1. What kind of tone does the novel's opening scene instantly set, and what does it tell us up front about Hannah's and Elizabeth's characters? If you've read other fictional accounts of Elizabeth's life, how does this portrayal of her compare? 2. In public, Hannah plays the fool to Mary's queen, but in private their bond is more intimate. Why is the relationship valuable to each of them, both personally and politically? How is Hannah's connection to Elizabeth different? 3. Hannah is smitten with Robert Dudley from the moment she spots him in her doorway, an angel at his shoulder. How would you describe the bond that develops between them -- and how does it change over time? 4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being the queen's fool instead of a normal courtier? 5. Haunted by the Spanish Inquisition, Hannah describes her Judaism as "some sickness that we pass on," claiming that Jews are condemned to "a lifetime of fear, not Chosen so much as cursed." How do her feelings toward her faith change over the course of the story and why? 6. In the grip of her Sight, Hannah delivers this prophecy: "There will be a child, but no child. There will be a king but no king. There will be a virgin queen all-forgotten. There will be a queen but no virgin....[Dudley] will die, beloved by a queen, safe in his bed." Ultimately, how does history unravel her cryptic prediction? 7. As Mary's marriage falters and her unhappiness grows, she becomes increasingly obsessed with restoring the glory of the Catholic Church through the fires of an English inquisition. Given that Hannah's own mother was killed in just such a fire, how is she able to justify Mary's bloody reign? Did you sympathize with her unswerving loyalty? 8. What changes in both Hannah and Daniel allow their initially contentious relationship to blossom into love? Did you agree with Hannah's decision to leave him when she discovers another woman has borne his child? 9. How does King Henry VIII's dishonorable treatment of Catherine of Aragon continue to affect England even years after their deaths? Why is Mary driven to convert all of England back to Catholicism? 10. Poised to burn books that could condemn her and her father as heretics, Hannah stays her hand, explaining, "If I burned them I was no better than the Inquisition which had killed my mother. If I burned them, I became as one of those who think that ideas are dangerous and should be destroyed." What would you have done in her place? In a world where knowledge was very dangerous, how does Hannah's Sight make her both powerful and vulnerable? 11. What is your estimation of Dudley's character? Do you think he is a true friend to Hannah? 12. Why does Hannah cling to the boyish dress of the fool for so long? Why is she so afraid to become a woman, and what finally inspires her transformation? 13. At the end of her life, Mary finds herself in the place she has most feared: She is a forgotten queen, cast aside by her husband and her people, overthrown in their hearts by a Boleyn girl, just as her mother was. Do you think that this end was her destiny? Are there other paths she might have chosen that would have led her to a long and happy reign? 14. If you're familiar with Elizabeth's history, discuss how the events in this novel foreshadow both what is to come in her reign as queen and in her relationship with Robert Dudley.