The Other Queen
Two queens fighting to the death for dominance
The untold story of Mary Queen of Scots
New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents a new and unique view of one of history's most intriguing, romantic, and maddening heroines. Biographers often neglect the captive years of Mary Queen of Scots, who trusted Queen Elizabeth's promise of sanctuary when she fled from rebels in Scotland and then found herself imprisoned as the "guest" of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick.
The newly married couple welcome the doomed queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailors will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court. To their horror, they find that the task will bankrupt them, and as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Elizabeth, their loyalty to each other and to their sovereign comes into question. If Mary succeeded in seducing the Earl, or if the great spy master William Cecil linked them to the growing conspiracy to free Mary from her illegal imprisonment, they will all face the headsman.
Heralded as "the queen of royal fiction" by USA Today, Philippa Gregory uses new research and her passion for historical accuracy to place a well-known heroine in a completely new story full of suspense, passion, and political intrigue. The Other Queen is the result of her determination to present a story worthy of this extraordinary heroine.
Reading Group Guide
1. Bess describes George and herself as newlyweds happy and in love. On page 2, she says, "Only my newly wedded husband is so dotingly fond of me that he is safe under the same roof as such a temptress." What is it that first makes Bess uneasy about her husband's feelings towards Queen Mary?
2. Authors often challenge themselves by writing from the point of view of characters of the opposite sex. Do you think Gregory does a convincing job of creating her main male character, George Talbot? Do you think he is more or less realistic than the women in this novel, such as his wife, Bess, or Queens Mary and Elizabeth?
3. George and Bess marry for choice and admiration. Identify how they describe one another early in the novel, and discuss how their opinions change over the course of the story. Do you think they ever really knew one another, or do you think their affection is just another casualty of Mary and Elizabeth's treacherous conflict?
4. On page 55, George compares Elizabeth and Mary. He says, "My queen Elizabeth is a most solid being, as earthy as a man. But this is a queen who is all air and angels. She is a queen of fire and smoke." How else are the two queens compared throughout the novel by different characters? How do they describe themselves in comparison to each other?
5. George holds tightly to a noble, genteel way of life that has all but slipped away in England under Elizabeth's rule. How do you feel about see more