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?