Sunday, November 01, 2015
Excellent Historical Fiction
The focus of the novel is, of course, the Sisters Grey, and the very tight line they had to walk in order not to follow their elder sister to the block. Just by virtue of their births and blood, there were many who looked to Lady Katherine in particular as an alternative to both Catholic Mary I and possibly illegitimate Elizabeth I. Told from the polar opposite points of view of both Katherine and Mary, we see how frustrating life at court could be and the chafing it caused as both girls longed to live as they pleased. Katherine comes across as flighty and flirtatious, and it's those characteristics that eventually lead to castrophe. Mary, on the other hand, is serious and intellectual, but having been born with a hump back, she is seen as a liability by many. In the end, both sisters suffer for who they are and what they stand for.
Also mixed into the story is that of Levina Teerlinc, a portraitess whom Fremantle gives strong ties to the Grey family. There is some evidence that Levina did have access to at least four of the Tudor monarchs, and her story brings a depth to the tale as time passes and hard choices are made. While I liked Levina, I did find the third person present tense of her narrative a bit annoying; I would have preferred for her to tell her own story just as the sisters did.
The writing in this novel is active and the girls' story is tragic, intriguing, and harrowing. I'm inspired to learn more of the Greys and their unfortunate place in history, and am highly pleased to be able to recommend this novel for anyone who is a fan of historical fiction.