Publication Date: June 25, 2013 by Kensington Books
Source: Review copy provided by publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
Their ambitions were ordinary, but they were born too close to the throne…
As cousins of history’s most tempestuous queens, Ladies Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey were born in an age when all of London lived beneath the Tower’s menacing shadow. Tyrannized by Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, the sisters feared love was unthinkable —and the scaffold all but unavoidable…
Raised to fear her royal blood and what it might lead men to do in her name, Mary Grey dreads what will become of herself and her elder sisters under the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. On their honor, they have no designs on the crown, yet are condemned to solitude, forbidden to wed. Though Mary, accustomed to dwelling in the shadows, the subject of whispers, may never catch the eye of a gentleman, her beautiful and brilliant sisters long for freedoms that would surely cost their lives. And so, wizened for her years, Mary can only hope for divine providence amid a bleak present and a future at the whim of the throne — unless destiny gains the upper hand.
A gripping and bittersweet tale of broken families and broken hearts, courage and conviction, The Queen’s Rivals recounts an astonishing chapter in the hard-won battle for the Tudor throne.
Please note this book will be published in the UK on September 12, 2013 as THE FALLEN QUEEN by Emily Purdy.
I have to admit that before reading The Queen's Rivals, I didn't know much more about Jane Grey than what I learned from the movie Lady Jane (1986). I know, this is bad. But I am happy to say that I feel that I learned so much from reading The Queen's Rivals and checking Google and historical sites as I read. I was quite impressed with the detail and accuracy of the book.
I found the choice of narrator as Lady Mary, the smallest, and probably least well known of the Grey sisters to be a unique and very effective one. While Jane considered herself to be the brilliant one, I would actually argue that Mary was the most intelligent because she had such common sense and a much more accurate view of the world they lived in. Despite her astute observations and practical outlook on her situation as a female and a dwarf with a certain standing, she was quite sentimental and very understanding of others' situations and misfortune, especially her sisters'.
These three girls are used as pawns in the plans of other powerful aristocrats, including their own parents, in various attempts to increase their own wealth and power. Mary seems to be the most aware of what is going on despite her inability to actually change anything. I thought The Queen's Rivals provided an interesting perspective into this precarious time in history. The Grey sisters were just a bit too close in succession to the throne for Edward VI, Mary, or Elizabeth to be comfortable and reading about their situation, how they coped - or didn't - and the various maneuverings of their families and other aristocrats was very interesting.
The descriptions of the clothing and hairstyles is quite detailed and anyone interested in these kinds of details will really enjoy this book. I enjoyed reading about the details of the stitching and the symbols, flower meanings, personal history included in the elaborate stitching on the clothing.
One aspect of the book that I found particularly enjoyable and interesting, was the way the fact that the Greys and the monarchs, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth are all family. I thought the family relationships were well described and made all the troubles between them seem very realistic. At times it seemed like some of the occasions were very dangerous family reunions - instead of someone getting mad and going off in a huff and not speaking to the family member for years, someone could be imprisoned or put to death over some small slight - real or perceived.
I enjoyed The Queen's Rivals and found it to be very detailed and the characters well developed. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Tudor history, the Grey sisters, historical fashions, historical fiction in general.
About the AuthorBrandy Purdy (Emily Purdy in the UK) is the author of the historical novels THE CONFESSION OF PIERS GAVESTON, THE BOLEYN WIFE (THE TUDOR WIFE), THE TUDOR THRONE (MARY & ELIZABETH), THE QUEEN’S PLEASURE (A COURT AFFAIR), and THE QUEEN’S RIVALS (THE FALLEN QUEEN). An ardent book lover since early childhood, she first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten years old when she read a book of ghost stories which contained a chapter about Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at www.brandypurdy.com, you can also follow her, and her cat Tabby, via her blog at http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com where she posts updates about her work and weekly book reviews.
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