Release Date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: review copy provided by the publisher
Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Katherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. Elizabeth Freemantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics. (Goodreads)
Despite my schoolhouse love of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, I have to admit that I don’t remember much about Lady Jane Grey. I remember that she was referred to as the Nine Day Queen and was beheaded, but not much beyond that. She had sisters? Live and learn!
The story has three narrators: Jane’s sisters Katherine and Mary, and their mother’s friend Levina. Each section is labeled with the date, location, and narrator, so things are easy to follow.
Really enjoyed learning about Lady Jane’s family, and her sisters are both fascinating in their own right!
Katherine is the more vivacious one, impulsive and a little reckless at times. A real beauty, she loved the boys and was a total flirt! She knows that she’s selfish and wants to change, then forgets her resolutions and falls back into her old patterns.
Mary is the youngest sister. Nicknamed Mouse by her family, she is reserved and quiet. She is also unique looking, with a crooked spine and petite stature. At a time when physical defeats were thought to be a sign of the devil, Mary learned to keep her head down and hide her intelligence.
Levina, close friend to the girl’s mother, is another interesting character. A talented painter attached to the Royal Court at a time when most women were not allowed to work, she probably deserves a book of her own!
While I usually find court politics and historical fiction a bit on the boring side, the author really humanized the characters and it felt like I was reading a contemporary novel!
The story goes from Lady Jane’s beheading, to Queen Mary (aka Bloody Mary), to Elizabeth’s reign. The author does a fantastic job of bringing history alive and really makes you understand how tense things could be for an aristocratic family with close ties to the throne.
While ultimately a sad tale, I can recommend this book for anyone looking for a good story about three fascinating women!