Image of The Last Tudor (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels)


Image of The Last Tudor (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels)

Gregory always brings readers straight into her novels, where history and people come to life, while creating a colorful, vibrant world shaped by tempestuous events. Gregory also explores love, and she does this nowhere more than in her latest Tudor novel. Through the lives of the three Grey sisters, she portrays the joy and sorrow, tragedy and triumph of love in one’s faith, one’s family and one’s lover during the most turbulent era in English history. Though Gregory reimagines history, she respects the women who were part of it — pushing them to the forefront and empowering those who read their stories. The Grey sisters, Jane, Katherine and Mary, were tragic figures, but in Gregory’s hands they become powerful women who defy their queen. Weaving three distinct stories into one novel is a feat. As readers switch narrators, some may be deterred by the change in voice and pacing. Yet none will be immune to their powerful voices or fail to be uplifted by their devotion to make their lives and deaths meaningful.

Following Henry VIII’s death, his son Edward became king. When Edward became ill, the fight for the throne began. With princesses Mary and Elizabeth declared illegitimate, there were many who wanted to place Henry’s sister’s daughter, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne. Pious, studious 17-year-old Jane was quickly married to Guilford Dudley and crowned queen. Nine days later, her cousin Mary’s forces won the fight. Jane was imprisoned and beheaded for refusing to renounce her faith. Jane’s sister Katherine vows not to repeat Jane’s fate. Forgiven by Queen Mary, she takes her place at court, where she follows her heart more than her head. She falls in love with Edward Seymour. They secretly marry and are able to hide their marriage until Katherine becomes pregnant. Elizabeth, fearing a possible Tudor rival for the throne, separates the couple and imprisons Katherine. Tiny, dwarfed Mary Grey learns that her size allows her to become almost invisible. Knowing what happened to her sisters, she is circumspect about her own love and marriage. Yet she too will find out what happens when you defy the queen. (TOUCHSTONE, Aug., 528 pp., $27.99)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin