Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: "The Sisters Who Would Be Queen" by Leanda de Lisle

From Goodreads:  Mary, Katherine, and Jane Grey–sisters whose mere existence nearly toppled a kingdom and altered a nation’s destiny–are the captivating subjects of Leanda de Lisle’s new book. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen breathes fresh life into these three young women, who were victimized in the notoriously vicious Tudor power struggle and whose heirs would otherwise probably be ruling England today.

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 greedy men and uncompromising religious politics when she briefly succeeded Henry’s son, the young Edward I. 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 a “queen with a public heart.” But as de Lisle reveals, Jane was actually more rebel than victim, more leader than pawn, and Mary and Katherine Grey found that they would have to tread carefully in order to avoid sharing their elder sister’s violent fate......

My Thoughts: I have always found Lady Jane Grey to be a fascinating historical figure but I have never really given much thought to her sisters until recently.  This book details the lives and deaths of all three sisters and the roles they played in the politics of Tudor England.  Leanda de Lisle provides a look at the Grey sisters that is completely different than anything I have ever read. 

The author did an extensive amount of research and seeks to debunk the myth that Jane had no control of her situation and was simply a victim of her greedy, abusive parents.  She also provides a different view of Jane's mother making her seem like any other aristocratic mother. I especially enjoyed the sections about Jane's sisters.  I had no idea that they were such important figures in Queen Elizabeth's reign.  I actually thought that Quenn Elizabeth seemed like a paranoid, vindicative perosn with the way she treated Mary and Katherine.  I understand that she was afraid of being dpeosed  but at the same time she was so horrible to her cousins.  I really felt bad for Katherine and Mary; because of their position, they weren't allowed to have a happy life and the lives they did have were filled with hardships and privations.

I feel like this was an incredibly unbiased and well-written discussion of the lives of the Grey sisters. It read more like a novel than a work of non-fiction and kept my interest from beginning to end.  4 stars.

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