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The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey [Kindle Edition]

Leanda de Lisle
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The dramatic untold story of the three tragic Grey sisters, all heirs to the Tudor throne, all victims to their royal blood.

Lady Jane Grey is an icon of innocence abused. Remembered as the ‘Nine Days Queen’, she has been mythologized as a child-woman sacrificed to political expedience. But behind the legend lay a rebellious adolescent who became a leader, and no mere victim. Growing up in her shadow, Jane’s sisters Katherine and Mary would have to tread carefully to survive.

The dramatic lives of the younger Grey sisters remain little known, but both women became heirs and rivals to the Tudor monarchs, Mary and Elizabeth I. To gain Queen Mary’s trust, teenaged Katherine ignored Jane’s final request not to change her religion, only to risk her life with a marriage that threatened Queen Elizabeth’s throne.

While Katherine’s friends fought to save her, the youngest Grey sister, Mary, stayed at court. Though too poor and plain to be significant, she looked set to escape the burden of her royal blood. But then she too fell in love and incurred the Queen’s fury.

Exploding the many myths of Lady Jane’s life, and casting fresh light onto Elizabeth’s reign, acclaimed historian Leanda de Lisle brings the Grey sisters’ tumultuous world to life: at a time when a royal marriage could gain you a kingdom, or cost you everything.

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Product Description


‘A deep and fascinating account. Leanda de Lisle’s close focus draws us into palace corridors, country houses and city streets where the excitement, intrigue and danger of the times are palpable.’ Jane Dunn

‘Utterly grippring…de Lisle reminds us on each page what terror felt for those in the 16th century…This is a marvellously told and quite terrifying biography.’ Daily Telegraph

‘A thrilling read that could sit comfortably beside any novel by Philippa Gregory…de Lisle wears her learning lightly, though the details are carefully crafted and researched.’ Spectator

‘“The Sisters Who Would Be Queen” brings the Tudor world to life in a story about siblings Katherine, Mary and Lady Jane Grey.… The author rehabilitates [Lady Jane Grey] as less a victim of history than a headstrong individual with a sense of her own destiny.…this fascinating tale relates how her plucky sisters adapted to life at court in an atmosphere of distrust and paranoia.…It was a miracle they lasted as long as they did.’ Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler


`An unrivalled account of the struggle for the Tudor Lisle is able to bring her characters vividly to life.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 903 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (23 Oct. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002TZ3CYU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,518 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I took a Master's degree in Modern History at Oxford University. Modern history begins in the seventh century at Oxford, so not as modern as some people might suppose! I then became a columnist for a number of high profile magazines and newspapers - the Spectator; Country Life; the Guardian amongst others. Some were funny columns, some serious. I soon returned to history, and I have spent the last ten years focussing on the Tudor and early Stuart period. I take time over my books - time to research and time to make that research as readable as possible. I hope I improve with each book. I live in a rural area with my husband of over twenty-five years and I have three sons - all of whom read history at university, although the youngest one read ancient history. We also have a huge brown labrador called Fitz. His full name is Fitz Pepsi - his father was called Pepsi and is still much missed. We don't own a cat, but we have a regular tortoiseshell visitor who stares at my husband in the garden as if he owns the place.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As engrossing and fast-paced as a novel... 10 Mar. 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Everyone knows the story of Lady Jane Grey, the 'Nine Days Queen', the innocent who was maneuvered into claiming the throne by her husband and family and executed by a vengeful Mary Tudor. In this book de Lisle argues that Jane was no innocent and no victim, that she was raised from birth fully conscious of her royal blood, her position as heir to the throne under Henry VIII's will and her role at the forefront of the struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism. Jane was an exceptionally educated, strong-willed and determined woman, who went to her death willing to serve as a martyr to her cause if she could not be queen.

One of the things this book highlights is how much of a curse royal blood was for women in the Tudor days. After the death of Edward IV, with nothing but female claimants, it was a dangerous time for women like the Grey sisters. Jane was executed for claiming the throne, arguably rightfully under the terms of Parliament and Henry VIII's will, which had excluded both Mary and Elizabeth on grounds of illegitimacy. Her sisters were both imprisoned for much of their lives for daring to marry for love without the Queen's knowledge and against her wishes, for the danger of them producing a son and heir for the throne was too much for Elizabeth.

This is a really good book, as engrossing and fast-paced as a novel. It may take a certain amount of literary license with some scenes or facts, but it does bring to life two marginalised historical figures in Mary and Katherine, whom I knew nothing about, and explodes a few myths about the Nine Days Queen, who was in fact queen for over two weeks. But nine days sounds better, right?
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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
By Amelrode VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Royal succession in Tiudor England was a very dangerous and unstable. Henry VIII's Third Succession Act 1543 granted Henry the right to bequeath the Crown in his Will. It returned both of Henry's daughters Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession, behind Edward, any potential children of his, and any potential children of Henry by his current wife Catherine Parr. His Will specified that, in default of heirs to his children, the throne was to pass to the heirs of his younger sister Mary Tudor, The French Queen and Duchess of Suffolk, bypassing the line of his elder sister Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots. Edward VI confirmed this by letters patent.

This put suddenly Frances Brandon, the eldest daugther of Princess Mary and the Duke of Suffolk, and her three daughters by the Marquess of Dorset, the Ladies Jane, Katherine and Mary Grey into the spotlight. They were suddenly pretenders to the throne. They were Tudor princesses without having the title of princess.

Leanda de Lisle re-creates the lives of these women in a most extraordinary period of English history, a time of great uncertainty and danger, of great changes, of religious divisions and of great political intrigue. The Tudor dynasty had more female heirs than every other, great women but a female ruler was regarded a liability.

Mrs de Lisle tackles the difficult subject with great knowledge, passion and understanding. She forms her own opinions and does not just go with "historical reputation". Her views of Frances Brandon or on Lady Jane Grey are refreshing, more objective and I feel more accurate and in the end more convincing than previous books had presented these figures. Very interesting are the pages on the Lady Katherine and Lady Mary, especially the later is a rather forgotten person.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Read 3 April 2011
I am a great reader of Tudor history, although very much an amateur historian. Some books draw you in and this was one. It is beautifully written and could almost be a novel and yet it imparts so much knowledge.

Perhaps not as sympathetic to Jane's plight as some may wish for, I nonetheless found this wonderfully detailed yet never tedious and I would highly recommend this books for anyone interested in the Grey family generally or Lady Jane Grey in particular.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars reads like a novel? well, yes and no... 2 May 2012
Many reviewers give this book 5 stars and say it reads like a novel, but until the other day, there was a 1-star review saying it was unreadable, because of all the complex family details, etc. I'm sorry in a way that that review has gone, because it should act as a warning - especially to those 'of a certain age' like myself, who aren't as good at remembering names as they used to be...

Firstly, the characters all have family names, which they may share with various others. Then they get given titles by the monarch, by which they then become known. Then they get a different title. The wives have these titles too. Then people remarry and have new names. Family lines involve varying degrees of royal blood, some more than others. You have to remember which line is Catholic and which Protestant, and when they change. Then someone's beheaded, and at a later date, someone else gets their title. More than one important person of royal blood is known as Mary Tudor. There are no fewer than four family trees at the start of the book, but they contain so many names and lines, you don't know which to memorise and which to forget...

Suffice to say, I found the first 50 pages of this book more than a little trying. But then - yes indeed!, it began to read like a novel, and I was captivated! These complicated, changing family relationships would continue to rear their ugly heads from time to time, but eventually I just floated past them, resigning myself to losing some of the threads of the story.

Some of these threads are essential to follow, though. It is the background mix of religious fervour, fraught issues of royal descent, and naked political ambition that creates the tension against which these love stories play out. This is what makes them so involving - and once she gets going, de Lisle certainly does a good job at involving us. Eventually, I couldn't put the book down.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Explodes a few myths.
A great read and very well researched. The author also managed to uncover more than was previously known about Mary Grey, the youngest of the Grey sisters. Read more
Published 2 months ago by AB.
5.0 out of 5 stars Something a bit different, but still great
I really like Leanda de Lisle. This book is very informative and interesting. A good read. Very well researched. Read more
Published 5 months ago by BoabsWife
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I am thoroughly enjoying this well researched book. Plenty of historical nuggets.
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. Joan Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book
Interesting and well researched. Gives a lot of new insight into the Grey family and the part they played in the Tudor turmoil
Published 9 months ago by Linda OByrne
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 9 months ago by max
4.0 out of 5 stars This was a really interesting read and gave a great insight into the...
This was a really interesting read and gave a great insight into the lives these fascinating women lead. Gina Cuciniello, author of 'How to Get Your First Job - the Savvy Guide'.
Published 11 months ago by Gina Cuciniello, Author of 'How to Get Your First Job'
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
This is a well researched book, making it an excellent read. I have enjoyed getting to know the three main characters, Jane, Katherine and Mary Grey. Read more
Published 12 months ago by jacqueline forster
4.0 out of 5 stars Poor girls - what a life they endured!
A good read, but I got a bit confused with all the inter-relationships. But historically well worth brushing up on!
Published 18 months ago by jilper
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative Account , posing under slightly novelish title, of lives...
Very readable yet highly researched (with authorities quoted) account of the Grey sisters, whilst they lived heirs to Elizabeth I. Read more
Published on 30 Jun. 2013 by MRS M P LEEMING
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written book
A very revealing and totalling fascinating book - written in such a way that I couldn`t wait to turn the electronic pages to find what came next!
Published on 2 Jun. 2013 by Smartlady
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