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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Synopsis

The Last TudorThe Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Philippa Gregory does it again! I always enjoy her historical fiction. Her writing puts you in the middle of the action, as if t you are in the tower, in the presence chamber, or on the block. In striking detail, she takes the most mundane characters, three relative unknowns (unless you are a British historian) and weaves a tale so detailed, so intense, that you can't wait to see what happens next. And when the story is over, you feel as though you've lost a friend.

The Last Tudor is the story of three sisters, Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey, cousins to the young, Protestant King Edward VI, who was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. The sickly Edward, not yet 18 years of age, chooses not to name one of his half sisters, Mary or Elizabeth, as heir. The Privy Council turns to Lady Jane Grey, cousin to the King, whose grandmother Mary was Queen of France (sister of Henry VIII).

The devout Jane Grey finds herself Royal - for nine days, and a martyr for all of history. Catholic Queen Mary I, daughter of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, his eldest offspring, takes her "rightful" place as queen, and Jane finds herself a prisoner in the tower, not only for refusal to denounce her Protestant faith, but for usurping the Crown. Little does it matter that it wasn't her choice.

The story begins with Jane, but there are two other Grey sisters with a claim to the throne, and this is their story, too: Katherine, the beautiful sister, looking more for love than religion, and Mary, also beautiful, but a dwarf who has little influence in Court. Mary I ruled for 5 years, and on her death, Elizabeth I became Queen and ruled for 44 years. The cousins remained threats through Elizabeth I's reign. The Last Tudor gives a glimpse into British life during the English Reformation and the English Renaissance, otherwise known as the Elizabethan Age. And because the heroines of the story defy the Queen's rule, there is also a glimpse into Elizabeth I's ruthlessness.

I highly recommend The Last Tudor, whether you have read any of Gregory's novels in the Cousin's War, Plantagenet, or Tudor series. One doesn't need to have any background with her other novels in order to enjoy this one.  And if you are lucky enough to get the B&N Exclusive Edition, you will also be able to read a letter from the author and a reprinting of the actual letters Gregory used in her research.

Happy reading!

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