The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
A new and unique view of one of history’s most intriguing, romantic, and maddening heroines, The Other Queen portrays the life and infamous death of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Mary, Queen of Scots is a heroine everyone recognizes but few truly know; her death on the English scaffold is better remembered than her turbulent and romantic life. Biographers often neglect her captive years, when she trusted Queen Elizabeth’s promise of sanctuary as she fled from rebels in Scotland. As a result, Gregory has chosen to depict Mary’s long imprisonment in England as the “guest” of the Earl of Shrewsbury and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick. The newly married couple welcomes the doomed queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court.
A suspense-filled tale of love, ambition, and jealousy, The Other Queen is told through three points of view: Bess, a spy in her own household for Queen Elizabeth, watching her fortune and her husband’s love destroyed by his obsession with Mary; Mary, a queen who will lie, seduce, plot, and sacrifice the lives of hundreds to regain her Scottish throne so that she can next take Elizabeth’s; and George, the Earl of Shrewsbury, who swore his allegiance to Queen Elizabeth but falls in love with Mary, and ultimately must condemn his love to death.
Over time this duty leads to irreparable bankruptcy, and the earl’s home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion by the young queen. The earl and Bess’s loyalty to each other and to their sovereign comes into question as Mary’s intricate plots are exposed. If Mary succeeds in seducing the earl into her own web of treachery and treason, or if the great spymaster William Cecil links them to the growing conspiracy to free Mary from her illegal imprisonment, they will all face the headsman.