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Sunday, September 11, 2016

My review of Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory


About the book:

As sisters they share an everlasting bond; As queens they can break each other’s hearts.

“There is only one bond that I trust: between a woman and her sisters. We never take our eyes off each other. In love and in rivalry, we always think of each other.”

When Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure. With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined—with Margaret’s younger sister Mary—to a sisterhood unique in all the world. The three sisters will become the queens of England, Scotland, and France.

United by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. Katherine commands an army against Margaret and kills her husband James IV of Scotland. But Margaret’s boy becomes heir to the Tudor throne when Katherine loses her son. Mary steals the widowed Margaret’s proposed husband, but when Mary is widowed it is her secret marriage for love that is the envy of the others. As they experience betrayals, dangers, loss, and passion, the three sisters find that the only constant in their perilous lives is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.

My review:

I have read a number of books by Ms. Gregory and have enjoyed them all. This one didn't grab me as much as others like Lady of the Rivers and The Kingmaker's Daughters. At any rate, I did enjoy this story. With so little being known about the main character, Margaret Tudor, who became the queen of Scotland at the same time her brother, Henry VIII was king of England, the author had a lot of unknown details where she could use creative license to fill in the blanks. Other than the fact that she married three times, there was a lot of leeway for the author to create a background to explain why she might have married two more times. 

The first time resulted in King James of Scotland. The other two were with clansmen, one with noble blood and one without. I found it interesting how she went from loving her sisters (Kathryn of Aragon by marriage and Mary Tudor, her younger sister) to hating or envying them quite a bit. Her attitude changed like the wind and she was full of pride, yet she had a softer side to her. I think the fact that it rarely came out made her less likable, though she was a strong woman. In the beginning she seemed a bit weak because of her human desire to be wanted and loved. Interestingly enough, the three sisters all had something in common. The first time each of them got married it was by contract and planned for political reasons. After being widowed, they each married for love and not for political reasons. 

The point of view of Margaret Tudor provided an interesting perspective of how Kathryn of Aragon may have been perceived by many in England. She was loved by the people because of her commitment to the king, her husband King Henry VIII, despite how he treated her toward the end. I found it interesting how Margaret Tudor was granted a divorce from her unfaithful and power- hungry husband of the Douglas clan before her brother King Henry VIII sought his divorce (though they were requested for different reasons) and how that would reflect on the Tudors as well as the perspective of the time - marriage was for life when it came to royalty. And yet they each broke their marriage contracts.  

Interesting book with one main character - Margaret Tudor. I always wondered what her life might have been like and Ms. Gregory provided some details that painted a picture, though it is obviously fiction.  

Three Sisters, Three Queens was published by Touchstone Books and released in August 2016.

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