Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen:Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey, by Leanda de Lisle

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Synopsis: Born into aristocracy, the Grey sisters were the great-granddaughters of Henry VII, grandnieces to Henry VIII, legitimate successors to the English throne, and rivals to Henry VIII's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Lady Jane, the eldest, was thrust center stage by uncompromising religious politics when she briefly succeeded Henry's son, the young Edward VI. Dubbed "the Nine Days Queen" after her short, tragic reign from the Tower of London, Jane has over the centuries earned a special place in the affections of the English people as an abused child and a "queen of the public heart." But as Leanda de Lisle reveals, Jane was actually more rebel than victim, more leader than pawn, and Mary and Katherine Grey would have to tread carefully in order to avoid sharing their elder sister's violent fate. 

Navigating the politics of the Tudor court after Jane's death was a precarious challenge. Katherine Grey earned the trust of Mary I, only to risk her future with a love marriage that threatened Queen Elizabeth's throne. Mary Grey, considered too petite and plain to be significant, looked for her own escape from the burden of her royal blood—an impossible task after she followed her heart and also incurred the queen's envy, fear, and wrath. 

Exploding the many myths of Lady Jane Grey's life, unearthing the details of Katherine's and Mary's dramatic stories, and casting new light on Elizabeth's reign, de Lisle gives voice and resonance to the lives of the Greys and offers perspective on their place in history and on a time when a royal marriage could gain you a kingdom or cost you everything.

Thoughts: A very informative book on one of my favorite periods in history. Learned a few things about the Grey sisters I hadn't been aware of previously. Amazing how many people were imprisoned for years, just because their marriage and children might threaten Elizabeth's role as queen. It definitely wasn't a good time to be part of the royal family.

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