Author Philippa Gregory takes a look at the Tudor sisters Lady Jane, Katherine and Mary Grey. While Lady Jane Grey was the most famous, becoming a martyr at the age of 16 when she refused to renounce her Protestant faith for the Catholic Tudor Queen Mary, the other two sisters were hardly mentioned in the history books. The beautiful Katherine lived inside the Tudor family but was without favour from Queen Elizabeth. Her younger sister Mary was almost completely unknown but was a Little Person, said to be under four feet in height.
Both sisters were imprisoned for years for defying the Queen and both suffered tremendously because of the Queen’s fear and failure to name a successor to the throne, since Queen Elizabeth did not marry and did not have children.
Divided into three sections, one for each sister, the novel gives us a peek into their lives. The first chapter gives the account of Jane’s rise to Queen for nine days and her demise at the hands of her cousin Mary Tudor who overtook her and sent her to the executioner’s block. Next we learn about the ill-fated Katherine who chose to love and marry without the Queen Elizabeth’s consent and was imprisoned and separated from her husband and children for the rest of her life. Mary’s life followed a similar path although she never had children. But of all the sisters, Mary was the only one who learned how to survive being a Tudor. It’s a good read of fact and fiction for those who like period pieces.