Sep 082014
Review: Sisters of TreasonSisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle
Published by Simon & Schuster on Jul 8, 2014
Genres: Adult, Historical fiction
Format: ARC from Publisher
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

From the author of Queen’s Gambit, which People magazine called, “A must-read for Philippa Gregory fans,” a gripping historical novel about two sisters who tread as dangerously close to the crown as their tragic sister, Lady Jane Grey, executed after just nine days on the throne.

Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Freemantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics.

Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous life at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness—and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act. It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her Queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The appeal of historical Tudor fiction is the intense scheming. The political and personal plots are so intense and passionate, it’s hard to believe they have a basis in reality. But even when the actual stories are fiction, there is still a grain of truth in the events, and this is true of Sisters of Treason.

A story about the sisters of Lady Jane Grey, two historical characters about which litle is known, this book creates a realistic image of them. It’s easy to feel sorry for Mary, a tiny woman with physical deformities, but her sister Catherine, is just as easy to pity with her flightly and emotional personality.

The story is told mainly through the voice of Levina Teerlinc, a friend of their mother, and adds an extra depth of voice to the story. She has her own story, and her own opinion of the girls, and her thoughts do colour the portrait painted. I liked the addition of Levina, not only for the extra narration, but also because she had a lot of freedom at court, and so her narration was able to fill in the details that neither Mary nor Catherine were privy too.

Overall, this was an exciting court drama that reminded me how entertaining Tudor history is. The plots and counterplots make for great stories, but I’m always grateful I didn’t live in that era. I don’t think I’d survive it, so it’s good that I can experience it through great storytelling like this.

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