THE LAST TUDOR by PHILIPPA GREGORY.
Elizabeth's royal cousin Jane Grey is faced with the choice of death or denying her faith after being forced onto the throne of England. It is left to Elizabeth to measure the threat posed to her by the remaining Grey girls - the famous beauty Katherine Grey and her sister, a little person, Mary. Alternately befriended and snubbed, the two girls thrive as the queen's companions, learning to judge her moods and avoid her temper tantrums. But they each have a secret: Katherine is in love with an heir to the great family Seymour, and Mary with the queen's sergeant porter. They come to realise that Elizabeth will never allow either of them to marry for fear of a Tudor heir to the throne.
Their martyred sister's advice is clear. ‘Learn you to die,’ Jane wrote in her famous letter to Katherine. But Jane's tragic story and her fatal choice is only the beginning for her two beloved sisters ...
- Inner Front Cover Blurb
(Contains what some may consider spoilers, scroll over if you wish to read)
I love my father because I know he will never die.
- First Sentence, Book 1: Jane
We are like an army of ants trying to move a dead rabbit. We gather around her, pulling the puffs of the inner sleeves out through the ornate embroidered slashes, fastening the hooks and eyes, settling the gown over the farthingale and roll so that it rides high around her hips. When we fall back she says, "Shoes," and young Jennie goes down on her knees to tie the bows on Her Majesty's best shoes.
- Memorable Moment; Page 398
SOURCE ... A present from Mr T.
READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.
MY THOUGHTS ... One of those books that sits somewhat oddly in a series. Whilst this is in fact the 15th book to be published in the author's Tudor series, chronologically its the 14th book sitting as it does between book 13, The Virgin's Lover (read pre Pen and Paper) and, book 15, The Other Queen (awaiting reading in the New Year).
The tale of the three Grey sisters ... Jane; Queen of England for only nine days, Katherine and Mary.
Philippa Gregory is one of the authors whose books I simply have to have and yet, much as I enjoyed this book ...
At times feeling as if the author must have had a word/page count to be met and had thought 'Hmm! What can I do to reach X number of words/pages? Oh I know, I'll pad the story out by means of repetition ... and if that doesn't work, I'll go off at a tangent and dedicate a proportion of the book to other than the three sisters.'
Apparently of small stature (seemingly not much bigger than the Court's resident 'dwarf', Thomasina) and yet as pretty as any doll. The author having chosen to include Mary, a 'little' person of royal blood within the Tudor Court, added an interesting dimension given that all too often hers is a story relegated to the footnotes of history BUT told of her size; of her doll like prettiness continuously ... alas I found the writing of Mary a tad patronising.
Very much the villain ... OK so history tells us that Elizabeth wasn't exactly, shall we say, the most benevolent of queens and that Katharine was a true beauty BUT I became increasingly saddened and angered by how much was made of these women's physical attributes (or lack of them); of the continual almost subliminal message that physical beauty equated 'nice'; plain/ugly equated, well, not so nice.
That said, despite any misgivings I may have had ...
A Court full of suspicion ruled over by a woman who here is portrayed as being equally as paranoid as her father, King Henry, before her. The Last Tudor drew me in as, each sister ... their destiny largely dictated by political expediency and the ever changing whim of their unforgiving cousin, Queen Elizabeth (oh and, of course not forgetting, the men of power behind the throne) ... took centre stage one after another in a novel that saw factual history interwoven with fiction; the author, despite your knowing there was a certain amount of poetical licence involved, convincing you that these events could have happened.