Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sisters Of Treason-Elizabeth Fremantle

Sisters Of Treason
Elizabeth Fremantle
Simon & Schuster, Jul 8 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9781476703091

In 1553, teenage Jane Grey became Queen of England with the death of King Edward VI, who selected her as his successor instead of his Catholic sister Mary. Nine days later, Mary overthrows Queen Jane and locks her in the Tower.  In 1554 Queen Mary beheads Jane.

Jane’s worried mother Frances rusticates since her two living daughters (Katherine and Mary) have legitimate claims to the English throne; but neither daughter pursues it out of fear of being publicly executed by bloody Queen Mary.  Instead each is cautious at court though flirty Katherine less so.  Meanwhile royal painter Levina Teerlinc tries to guide the sisters from stepping into an unintended brouhaha.  When Elizabeth replaces her late sister on the throne, the Grey siblings feel safer to follow love, but fail to comprehend their monarch’s wrath for not obtaining her approval.

The latest Elizabeth Fremantle’s Tudor biographical fiction (see Queen’s Gambit) brings an intriguing freshness through the cautious eyes of the late Lady Jane Grey’s two younger sisters and the artist trying to help them keep their heads.  Rotating perspective between the sisters and the painter, subgenre readers will gain much pleasure from this strong look at an era of cutthroat female power.  A bibliography is included, of which I suggest The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle (in fairness the only one I read) for those seeking nonfiction insight.

Harriet Klausner

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