by Elizabeth Fremantle1 out of 5
In a court ruled by a paranoid Queen, possessing royal blood can be the gravest crime of all...
Fearing traitors amongst her court, the aging Queen Mary orders the execution of her cousin, Lady Jane Grey. Cursed with royal blood her young sisters Katherine and Mary must now face the Tudor court alone.
Katherine, a beauty amongst the queen's maids, makes dangerous romantic liaisons. While fiercely clever Mary reluctantly becomes the Queen's confidante.
And so Katherine and Mary find themselves in a maze of treachery, suspicion and danger - where royal blood could be their death warrant. . .
The young Grey sisters witness the unsettled English court from within. Their royal blood makes them targets for bigger plots.
I won this book in a Goodreads First Read competition a while back, and I do feel a little guilty that I've taken this long to review it.
This is a very grey book about the Grey sisters.
It opens with the execution of Lady Jane Grey - the Queen who succeeded Edward VI for all of 9 nines day before Mary I's supporters took the crown.
I'm afraid to say that this scene was the only interesting one, and it all drags along from there. At only 60 pages in, I was bored of the constantly being told that Katherine was pretty; Mary was insightful; they both had to hide their religion.
It's very dry and unimaginative how it is always done - with whatever third party is in the scene, commenting to said sister how lovely they were in their way. And the sister would treat us to yet another musing of, "why yes, I suppose that I am beautiful/insightful."
Which kinda leads on to the fact that the book's narration is split between Katherine, Mary and Levina (a portrait painter of the time, and friend of the girls' mother). But there is no difference in voice - it wound me up: that a nine year old girl (no matter how mature and intelligent) should have the same thought and speech patterns as a 40 year old woman.
As for the supporting characters... I love reading about the whole Tudor period. The politics, the danger, the intrigue, women that must balance their strength against the ambitions of men.
This felt like a high school drama. Queen Mary is constantly displayed as weak, blinded by faith and an obsession with having a child. Instead of being well-schooled and controlled, Queen Elizabeth is the bitch who flaunts her power and wears her heart on her sleeve. I have no interest in reading these versions.
I had been looking forward to the "dangerous romantic liaisons" and the "maze of treachery, suspicion and danger" the book promises.
Instead, those bits were cut out, and we got what was left. With the exception of Lady Jane's beheading, we weren't present at any major event. Seriously, we hang about in the background, where they talk about what has happened. They talk about Queen Mary's death; they chat about Queen Elizabeth's coronation and the dress she wore. Even the minor plot points, like the engagement of Mary Grey's best friend Peggy; or the marriage of Katherine's best friend, Jane Dormer - we hear about them afterwards.
Instead we're treated to repetitive non-plot.
I got over 200 pages in, but have other books that I'm keen to move onto.