Posted by: Corina Paraschiv | December 17, 2008

The Queen’s Own Fool by Jane Yolen

This young adults book was simply amazing — like all historical fictions, if you know your history well you pretty much know the ending of the book right? But somehow, it’s like detective colombo – even if you know how the story ends, you are hooked on how things could possibly have gone so wrong. And this book is a charmer, an easy read. I was going through the plot in my head yesterday night as I was thinking of the key moments of this book and realized this is PACKED with action – and in fact could’ve done for a very boring narrative. But it didn’t. Now like for most books, I want to discuss this with readers that HAVE read it already so watch out for spoilers if you haven’t read it yet.

I decided to make a mix of my own comments and to gather bits and pieces of anecdotes about Mary Queen of Scots just because I thought comparing the real history to the storyline in the book seemed quite interesting after reading this.

Modern Life Story
So just to get us thinking a bit, if you were to ask yourself if this story is still relevant today as it was before, I would definitely say yes; because the way in which La Jardiniere talks about her adventure, it seems like she is living this nomadism that is very characteristic of our century. Both her and the Queen are third culture kids and try to express both their desire and their lassitude at moving from one place to another. Culture shock never strongly surfaces though. Why? The answer is quite simple: the court where they are is often similar from place to place, employing much of the same people, and the habits hardly ever change. For it to be a real culture shock, and cultural experience, the protagonists would need to have LIVED (immersed) in a culture with people not from their own castle culture but from the local culture. We can parallel that with the ethnic communities and how they succeed in integrating into the new country vs perpetuating their traditions without being impregnated by other cultures.

Did Nicola (the Jardiniere) really exist?

Well yes and no. Here’s what part of the story is true: “We know from the castle rolls, both in France and then in Scotland, that Mary had three female jesters. They were called La Folle, Jardinere, and Governance, the last of whom we have liberally decided was a governess more than a fool. We also know–again from the castle accounts–that Jardinere and the others were given presents of gloves, linens, clothes. We know that the female jester–along with Mary’s other French servants who accompanied her to Scotland–were sent home to France with rich gifts when Mary went down to England.” (

Things to Ponder…
Here is a really cool reading guide for you to dig deeper into the book if you read it recently!

And here is a website about Mary Queen of Scots :

I loved this book… what next?
Well it turns out there are two sequals to it (perhaps even four now as The Queen’s Own Fool was referred to recently as being part of the Tudor Quatuor). The next book is : the Girl in a Cage. How good it is I do not know, because I am often skeptic about unplanned sequals but I would definitely consider trying another book from the two authors.

Try the 50 Books in a Year Challenge!
If you don’t know what to read next, have a look at the  How to Find Good Reads post.



  1. […] Queen’s Own Fool by Jane Yolen and Robert Harris (comments here) […]

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