Although not vastly far apart in chronological terms, our two heroines are divided not just by a few decades of history, but by some of the great upheavals that shook England after the death of Edward the Fourth. His two sons, the Princes in the Tower, were his legitimate heirs, but power was usurped by his brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester who was finally defeated at Bosworth by the putative Henry the Seventh. The shifting tides of loyalty and religious struggles meant that almost overnight, a person could find themselves designated "traitor" simply by being on the wrong side of some divide or other. Many unfortunates paid the ultimate price for these ruthless schisms.
Katherine Grey is a descendant of Henry the Eighth through one of his sisters, and in the aftermath of the early death of the young King Edward (Henry the Eighth's sole male heir), she along with her older sister Jane find themselves in line of succession, if Mary Tudor does not succeed in claiming her birthright as queen to succeed her half brother. Mary Tudor does succeed and Jane Grey, having been forced by her family to accept the Crown, is then deposed after a reign of only 9 days - and despite her youth, executed - a horrible tragedy for a helpless, unhappy young woman. Katherine as her sister is denied the fulfilment of her marriage; her family now being on the wrong side of both religion and politics, and she no longer a matrimonial prize.
Lonely and sad, Katherine finds a portrait, and deciphers the person portrayed as Kate Plantagenet, illegitimate daughter of the ursurper Richard the Third. Her tale is also one of tragedy, as her young cousins disappear into the Tower and her father claims the crown. Is he a murderer? Can Kate uncover the mystery of the Princes and even find some happiness in her own life. Katherine and Kate seem destined to somehow share each others' experiences in ghostly fashion. Meanwhile, Katherine Grey does. briefly, find personal happiness and fulfilment of a kind in a new marriage, but one which is not sanctioned by her royal relative and new Queen, Elizabeth the First, who will not tolerate a close relative marrying and bearing sons who might threaten her reign.
It's a neat construct and is very well written with loads of accurate historical background, and non experts will welcome the family trees, which are included, The lives and destinies of the Grey sisters are well documented and so are historically accurate, with lives of Richard the Third and his family, slightly less so and the fate of the two Princes in the Tower as obscure now as it was then, although Tudor spin has always placed their Uncle Richard firmly in the frame for their destruction. This book offers a possible scenario in the form of a gripping narrative which keeps up a steady, highly readable pace.