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Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory

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RATING: 3.5/5

BLURB: “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.”

REVIEW: I have always been a huge fan of Philippa Gregory, despite the fact that I have been annoyed by some of the theories she chooses to put in her hugely popular historical fiction novels – for example, her ideas surrounding George Boleyn in ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ have led to many a false representation of him and, as I am planning to write my Masters dissertation on him, this has always irked me. I always enjoy reading her books though, and just have to remind myself to take them with a pinch of salt, just like any other historical fiction novel. With ‘Three Sisters, Three Queens’, however, I was a little sceptical of the premise before I even began to read it. ‘Three Sisters, Three Queens’ tells the story of the relationship between Katherine of Aragon, Princess Margaret Tudor, and Princess Mary Tudor, all through the eyes of Margaret. The novel’s description seems to put forward the idea that these women had a loving, unbreakable bond, and considering the fact that Katherine of Aragon was in charge of the Army that killed Margaret’s husband, I was very doubtful of this being true. Upon actually reading the book, however, Gregory creates a much more complex, believeable relationship between these three remarkable women that the one I had been led to expect, and many of my inhibitions were soon pushed aside. Margaret is not always a likeable narrator; she can be selfish, naive, arrogant and competitive. However, she can also be brave, loving and determined, all qualities that I hugely admire, and having read very little about her previously I found myself becoming quite attached to Margaret. Despite my initial misgivings I found myself racing through the book, eager to read more of the sisterly rivalry that took place between the three women, Margaret’s often disastrous love affairs, and the escalating political turmoil that all three women become caught up in. My only criticism upon finishing the book is that I would like to have read more about Mary; she is a fascinating woman in her own right and I have hopes that Gregory might pen a future novel focusing on her in more detail, rather than the reader simply meeting her from afar and only seeing her as a silly, impulsive young girl.

 

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