©2009 Leanda de Lisle; (P)2009 Tantor
"De Lisle has produced an excellent, assiduously researched account of dynastic politics at its worst, focusing on three fascinating and often overlooked women." (Publishers Weekly)
We may all know the fate of Lady Jane Grey, the nine-days queen, but I, for one, knew nothing about her younger sisters, Katherine and Mary. Despite de Lisle's title, none of the three "would be queen" of her own accord. Their claims were promoted by others because their mother, Frances, was the only surviving child of Mary Tudor's second marriage to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. That made Frances, as Henry VIII's niece, a viable heir to the throne, since Henry had specifically excluded the heirs of his elder sister Margaret. When Edward VI died, many still considered his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, to be bastards. Frances gave up her place in line in favor of her daughter Jane (most likely as part of the deal to marry her into the prominent and ambitious Dudley family). And so began the fate of "the sisters who would be queen." Katherine Grey, a court beauty, was denied Queen Elizabeth's permission to marry the man she loved. They married in secret but were discovered when Katherine's first pregnancy began to show. She spent the rest of her life in the Tower--where her two sons were born. Mary Grey, the youngest sister, a tiny, unattractive, and possibly hunchbacked woman, suffered a similar fate by falling in love with and secretly marrying a man of inferior status.
De Lisle provides fascinating insights into power, intrigue, jealousy, and the conflicts between public and private lives in the Tudor era. What I appreciated most about the book was the way that it brought together many pieces of Tudor history that had been floating in my brain, fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle. I hadn't realized, for instance, that the Grey family were descended from the first marriage of Elizabeth Wodeville, wife of Edward IV. And somehow it had escaped me that Guildford Dudley was the brother of Elizabeth's favorite, Lord Robert Dudley--strange indeed that she developed such an affection for one whose father and brother were executed for trying to shift the throne away from her sister Mary and herself.
The Sisters Who Would Be Queen is a must-read for any afficiando of Tudor England. It's filled with facts, but De Lisle's expert hand makes it an entertaining story as well.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
After having read a half dozen books on Lady Jane Grey's extremely short reign as Queen of England, it's refreshing to finally come across one where her place in history is kept in its proper perspective. And the bios of her two much more interesting sisters is an added bonus. The narrator's voice is perfect for this kind of book, moving the story along at just the right pace. Almost nothing has been written on Jane's sister Kathryn and what little on Mary made more of her disability than the remarkable woman herself. The author provides a well-researched historical account of three tragic lives which is both informative and entertaining.
Listener of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Intrigue (not romance), Historical Fiction and very eclectic in her literary wanderings.
Yes, if you love the Renaissance and English history like I do, this is the book for you. Filled with details, notes and rare documents, I loved the insight into the royal families.
Unlike so many novels available, this non-fiction doesn't "guess" at who these major players were. Instead, there are detailed accounts of each of the the women based on their letters, court records and family histories. I have never heard so much detail on Lady Jane, though I found the info on Queen Mary a bit lacking.
Elizabeth I is shown with a level hand, neither harsh nor weak by any means.
You love history, listen to this book. And no, it won't replace your history class text. But it will entertain you.
Life long compulsive reader & lover of recorded books
This is an extremely well researched book on the Grey sisters. Their place in Henry VIII's succession line was a source of great unhappiness to all three of them and played a direct role in the death of at least one (Lady Jane). The author manages to make the work flow and also does a great job of producing believable portraits of each sister in the context of the times they lived.
I enjoyed the every day life details incorporated into the story of the sisters by the author.
The events surrounding Lady Jane's life are the most dramatic although Katherine Gray's life was as tragic if less well known.
The author makes the sixteenth century seem much more recent and accessible
I have not yet finished, but don't expect any surprises, since it is a history.
The narrator's voice is pitched quite high, and sometimes the speed with which she speaks makes it hard to follow the text. There is a bit of a grating quality, also.
Children and heirs of Henry VIII could never expect to die of old age!
This book was more like a very boring high school history lesson than an entertaining read. It is full of names, dates and facts which as a history buff I enjoyed but was not what I was expecting at all.
This is basically an interesting story, but sometimes is just a telling of the facts. But I enjoy reading about this period in history, so I stuck with it.
I am not a fan of the woman narrating this book. I have listened to a few books she has narrated and don't like her voice.
This book is of great interest historically but is difficult to digest because the narrator speaks too quickly so it requires constant reviewing
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