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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As engrossing and fast-paced as a novel...
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...
Published on 10 Mar 2010 by C. Ball

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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fact or fiction ?
Did enjoy the book however it was sometimes hard to tell what was fact and what was fiction or the authors interpretation of the facts, there are a lot of characters which come in and out of the book and I found myself going back to refresh my memory several times not a light read but none the less enjoyable.
Published on 12 Dec 2010 by Paul


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As engrossing and fast-paced as a novel..., 10 Mar 2010
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey (Paperback)
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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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Curse of Being Royal - the lives of three Tudor Princesses, 24 Jan 2009
By 
Amelrode (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
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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.

The only objections I have is that Mrs de Lisle fills gaps with phrases like "have felt"... well that is merely guesswork. But all in all that does not make this book less interesting or less valuable. It is indeed a great inside into the politics surrounding the English's throne in the 16th century. I enjoyed every page and learned a lot. This is a great book and a great addition to every Tudor library.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Read, 3 April 2011
By 
Graham James "graydjames" (Leicester UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey (Paperback)
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars reads like a novel? well, yes and no..., 2 May 2012
This review is from: The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 5 Dec 2009
By 
Misfit (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This book covers an extremely complex bit of history, so I will try to keep this as short and sweet as possible. We all know about Henry VIII and out of six wives he had one son, Edward, and two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Henry's favorite sister Mary had a daughter Frances who in turn had three daughters - Jane, Katherine and Mary. Upon the death of Edward, well that is when things get complicated as those three sisters (or more specifically any sons they might bear) were potential heirs to the throne of England.

Most Tudorphiles are familiar with the eldest daughter Jane, who becomes the Nine Day Queen and her tragic end. What's refreshing in this book is that de Lisle also shows us *the rest of the story* of the younger sisters Katherine and Mary, who as potential heirs to the throne are unable to marry without the Queen's permission - and Elizabeth was not about to give it and let them have sons who could threaten her crown. Katherine comes to court to serve Elizabeth and falls in love with Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford, but without Elizabeth's permission to marry so they do so in secret, although the lovers face the Queen's wrath when the marriage is discovered. Years later a grown Mary arrives at court and she incurs the Queen's anger when she also marries in secret.

And that's about as far as I'll go, if you know the basic history you know where the rest of the story goes and if you don't, well then read it for yourself. The author does a great job of breaking down some old myths (no, Frances wasn't quite the power hungry harridan she's always been portrayed as) as well as breaking new ground with solid facts and research and puts it all together in a very readable book. It was a tad bit dry at first (I don't normally read non-fiction) but once we got into Katherine and Mary's stories I was hooked and had a hard time putting it down.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, 11 Aug 2009
By 
Ms. A. Vaughan "Armaysha" (England) - See all my reviews
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A wonderful account of the Grey sisters and their exciting and often dangerous lives. De Lisle focuses on each sister in turn, with attention to detail and in depth understanding.

De Lisle spends some time discussing Lady Jane Grey but her main focus is Lady Mary and Katherine. This is where she shines. The least famous sisters are given the limelight they rightly deserve! De Lisle gives detailed accounts and her own views when history records cannot, in a sympathetic and rational manner.

The book is very readable and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Tudor period.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tudor peril, 25 Jun 2009
By 
Lynette Baines (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen, is a well-known figure. Her two younger sisters are not so well-known. This excellent biography follows the three sisters as they are each caught up in the murky world of Tudor politics. Protestant Jane was declared heir to the throne by the dying Edward VI in preference to his Catholic half-sister Mary. Jane was less of a victim of powerful men than has been supposed, & De Lisle shows that she was determined to rule in her own right. However, Mary's supporters deposed Jane & she was executed when she became a focus for rebellion. When Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1559, Katherine Grey was seen as her heir by the English nobility. She foolishly fell in love & secretly married without Elizabeth's permission. When she then gave birth to two sons (the second child conceived while both parents were imprisoned in the Tower), the Queen's anger was terrible, the couple were separated & Katherine died young. The youngest sister, Mary, also married without the Queen's permission. Her choice was one of her jailers, Thomas Keyes, who was imprisoned in terrible conditions for falling in love with an heir to the throne. This is a fascinating look at the Tudor court & the perils of being too close to the throne.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, pacy and refreshingly unsentimental, 29 Oct 2012
This review is from: The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey (Paperback)
Leanda de Lisle's biography of Lady Jane Grey, "the nine day queen," and her two younger sisters, Katherine and Mary, is clever, pacy and unsentimental. If you're unfamiliar with the period, it explains the complex political situation of the mid-sixteenth century in an accessible but intelligent way. If you are already a Tudor fan, then de Lisle's book will still prove interesting because of the confident way in which she narrates the story of the Grey sisters' lives and discusses the importance of feminine monarchy in the years after Henry VIII's death. She strips away many of the romantic legends surrounding the girls, especially Jane, and re-appraises some of the period's other important women, such as the Greys' mother, the Duchess of Suffolk, and their cousin, the future Queen Elizabeth I. De Lisle's writing style is witty and clever - she deals equally well with the tragedy and the absurdity of the sisters' lives. (The lives of Katherine Grey and Mary Grey after their sister's death help make this book feel particularly "fresh," which isn't always easy to do in the Tudor market.) "The Sisters Who Would Be Queen" is a good biography in its own right or a "must-read" for anyone fascinated by the Tudor monarchy and the legend of Jane Grey and "the nine days" of 1553.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping guide to the whole period, 4 Mar 2009
By 
Popular history books have to combine two apparently contradictory virtues. On one hand, they have to be scholarly and academically rigorous, on the other, readable and entertaining. Leanda de Lisle manages this balancing act with consumate ease.

The sisters of the title are Jane, Katherine and Mary Grey. Jane, the eldest and best known Grey, is the subject of the first half. I already knew parts of her story - or at least I thought I did. De Lisle debunks the mythology surrounding Lady Jane, showing her not as the tragic Protestant martyr of legend, but as an ambitious, strong-minded young woman with an Evangelical fervour. She knew exactly what she was getting into.

I found Jane the least personally attractive of the Greys - she's a bit uptight for my tastes, especially when she's urging her younger sisters to `despise the flesh'. Katherine and Mary are easier to identify with, so while their stories are less eventful, they carry just as much weight. Their lives are ruined by their claims to the throne - claims they never cared about in the same way as Jane. The tale of Mary's husband, Thomas Keyes, is particularly affecting. The tallest man at court, he was locked in a tiny room in the Tower, brutally tortured for falling in love with the wrong woman.

For me though, the best portrait in the book was of Elizabeth. Of all the women who contend for the throne after Henry VIII's death - from Mary Tudor to Mary Queen of Scots - she alone makes it and makes it stick. But, through the eyes of the Greys, we see a queen who is frightened and loveless, pushed into acts of extreme cruelty by her constant fear of usurpation. Jane is her rival. But Mary and Katherine are her victims.

This is a really excellent book. Despite the title, it's not just about the Greys. It's about the whole period, and all the women in it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, 9 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey (Paperback)
I highly rate this book
The author has done some painstaking research and its by far the most vivid account of the Grey sisters (and indeed family) I have ever read
A fantastic read Buy it!!
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