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on 19 May 2017
I don't want to be too harsh, as parts of this book were very engaging, and it's probably still worth reading as biographies of Margaret Tudor (and Mary) are in short supply, however too caution should be exercised in reading it as its authority is not always particularly persuasive. For a start the author's citations are patchy and unreliable- purchases of clothing are often referenced carefully, but important political events are sometimes not even cited. This is all the more apparent in Scottish cases, and in at least one case the author makes a claim (regarding one of James IV's illegitimate children) that appears to have been invented by her, as it is not to my knowledge backed up in any other sources or secondary works, and she does not cite a source. As well as this, better attention could have been paid to Scottish situations as a whole, especially given that country is the major context for Margaret's life- for example the author often lazily refers to families as 'clans' without much idea of what that term actually means, a rookie mistake. The book is also somewhat dated in its portrayals of women and related terminology. Lastly as other reviewers have stated, Margaret and Mary's experiences are almost entirely subordinated to their relevance to their brother's reign, even in the title itself, and the affairs of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon are focused on perhaps too much, even where they don't have much relevance to the life of either sister. Mary's story is almost entirely dropped for large portions- understandable given the lack of sources, but surely at least some kind of narrative should have been attempted. A good introduction to the subject, but one that should be supplemented thoroughly with wider reading in order to understand where this book goes wrong.
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on 12 April 2017
Good book
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on 12 March 2010
This is a tightly written and energetic book. Through the lives of Margaret and Mary - and in just a couple of hundred pages - the author manages to make sense of the European court politics which shaped their lives, as well as giving you some sense of their individual personalities. I'm off to read John Guy's biography of Mary Queen of Scots now, largely because I have enjoyed this book so much and don't want the story to end.
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on 29 July 2010
It is a shame that Henry VIII's sisters are too often ignored. They are important as their descendants, amongst others James V of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots, Lady Margaret Douglas, Arbella Stuart, the three Grey sisters; Jane, Katherine and Mary and ultimately James VI of Scotland who succeeded Elizabeth I, were at times serious rivals to the English throne because of the failure of Henry's children to secure the Tudor dynasty.

The lives of Henry VIII's two sisters are also just as interesting as his; both becoming queens and both having various controversial marriages. What is obvious, which Maria Perry highlights successfully, is the choices made by the two sisters were very similar to those made by their brother but of course the consequences for them were starkly different due to the fact they were women. It's an absorbing read, but only when Perry is writing on topic.

The book's flaw is that Perry writes too much about unimportant things and too little about important things. True, Henry's older brother Arthur's marriage to Katherine of Aragon and Henry's divorce from Katherine and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn are linked to the lives of the two sisters especially in terms of the succession of the English crown but there is far too much detail. Frustratingly, whole chapters are at times dedicated to these events. Rather strangely Perry refuses to cover the Battle of Flodden in very much detail, does not mention Katherine of Aragon's death at all and ironically doesn't detail Anne Boleyn's fall.

If you do read this book be prepared for these flaws and be patient because when Perry is on topic it's very, very good.
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on 10 April 2009
Sisters to the King

This book was supposedly about Henry's two sisters with the subplot of allowing us a better insight into the mind of Henry VIII, probably the most famous English king. Perhaps this was an unfortunate choice for the author, whilst David Starkey is in existence then there is possibly not much more that someone can tell us about this monarch.

However, this book did appear to be written with the intention of telling us more about the king than his two sisters. Mary's only role was to marry the ageing king of France, then she mostly disappeared apart from to disapprove (but not openly) of Henry's treatment of Katherine of Aragon and his union with Anne Boleyn, to have children and then die.

I also didn't feel as though I got to learn that much about Margaret either. Was she just naive and a bit vain, or did she come to understand the political turmoil of Scotland? Why did Henry support her second husband despite his treatment of her and her son, James V, was it just chauvanism? Unfortunately this book did not lead me to any conclusions.

The book would have been so much better if it had concentrated on the two Tudor sisters, but I got the sense that the author didn't have much more to write about them and instead concentrated on Henry about which there is presumably a lot more information.

The book is engagingly written but ultimately disappointing, although I did learn some things about the tudors that I had not previously known. The style of writing and the attempt to introduce some of the lesser known characters of the Tudor court is the reason I gave it three stars.
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on 14 March 2011
Two vivid and passionate women struggle to control their lives and loves during tumultuous times. Brother Henry VIII's well-known history acts as a backdrop to his sisters' exploits. Given his marital adventures, it is not surprizing that the sisters rack up several dynastic engagements, a handful of lovers and ultimately five husbands between them. Read this book to discover more about Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France.

Maria Perry's book alternates from one sister to the other, without sticking to a single chronology, so the reader needs to remain alert to follow a jump from 1508 in France back to Scotland in 1503. An appendix listing key dates and providing a timeline would be a welcome addition to the book as would some detailed family trees, since names were much re-used and remarriage common.

Overall a great subject: two headstrong women with lives full of drama across the European continent. Although you can skim-read this book and pick up the atmosphere, be prepared to put in some work and pay attention if you want to understand the details.
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on 9 February 2008
I was very excited at the prospect of reading this book and learning more about the sisters of King Henry the Eighth.Sadly I was very disappointed. I found the narrative dry and lacking in passion or psychological insight, and because of this these two remarkable women failed to really come alive and live through the pages of this book.I also felt there seemed to be a lack of real feeling or connection to Margaret and Mary by the Author, this resulted in my feeling that she didn't really care either about them, or their trials and tribulations.
Whilst I appreciate the need for setting the historical events in context I found too little emphasis was given to the two main protaganists, Margaret and Mary, and quite a substantial amount on peripheral events.
However,one of the most annoying things for me was Ms Perry's treatment of the battle of Flodden Field and it's terrible aftermath, now here's where there should have been the opportunity for drama and passion,but Ms Perry either couldn't feel it or couldn't be bothered to write about it and dismissed it with the throwaway line " The rest of the story has been told many times by chroniclers and historians through the ages." Indeed it has, but not in context from Queen Margarets perspective. If that wasn't infuriating enough Ms. Perry then proceeds to summarise the aftermath and repercussions of this tragic battle,in a very few pages.
I persevered in reading this book hoping upon hope that I would be enlightened, excited, moved, and informed very sadly I was not, unlike the two previous Amazon reviewers. Very disappointing.
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on 27 July 2009
I found this book a good read, I have an interest in the Tudors and already knew quite a lot about Henry, his wives and of course Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots etc but did not know much about his sisters. I found it informative and it helped me put the jigsaw together in my mind as to how the Tudors linked together. It is factual and not a work of fiction but this doesn't take away the enjoyment for the fiction reader, it is in itself an interesting story. I would definitely recommend it to a novice like myself who simply enjoys a Historical novel; it really does help you put all the pieces and all the people into the correct place in your mind before you can go onto some more in-depth reading on the Tudors.
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VINE VOICEon 1 April 2012
Comparatively little gets written about Henry VIII's sisters. Margaret married King James IV of Scotland and is the ancestress of the current royal family. Mary briefly married King Louis XI of France and then Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Henry's closest personal friend. I found this a bit slow going in parts and the endless twists and turns of Scottish events, with constant political and personal betrayals, became a bit dull and convoluted. Mary was comparatively less comprehensively covered than her elder sister. But it is well written and offers an interesting look at a less well known aspect of the Tudor dynasty. 3.5/5
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VINE VOICEon 19 February 2007
Margaret and Mary - nowadays two the two sisters of Henry VIII are not very well know as the King seems to be overshadowing everything and everybody. However both princesses played an important role in the British history. This excellent double biography of the two princesses is a great contribution to the study of the Tudor monarchy.

Margaret, the elder and least happy sister, became the queen consort of Scotland. She enjoyed her position as princess to the full; she began a lifelong love affair with beautiful clothes, delighted in dancing and music as well as archery and playing cards. The princess, as a result of her privileged position, developed a very stubborn personality. Her marriage to James IV of Scotland was accompanied by a treaty of "perpetual peace" between Scotland and England. But neither the marriage nor the peace lasted. The king was more occupied with his mistresses and the peace ended when James invaded England in 1513 and was killed at Flodden. Margaret became regent for her son, James V , but her love marriage to Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus, led to the loss of the regency to the duke of Albany. Albany soon obtained custody of the king, and Margaret fled to England. She returned in 1517, However, her Marriage to Angus did not last. James was proclaimed king in 1524 but was for several years virtually a prisoner of Angus. In 1527, Margaret obtained a divorce from Angus and soon married Henry Stuart, Lord Methven. James, upon his escape from Angus (1528), joined his mother and Methven, and they were for a time his chief advisers. The third marriage however, did not last too, but her son, the King, to allow her to divorce Methven.

Margaret's descendants by James IV and by Angus were united by the marriage of Lord Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots, whose son became James I of England (James VI of Scotland.). Through her the Stuarts of Scotland claimed the throne of England.

Princess Mary was the youngest sister of Henry VIII, and very much loved by him.. She had charm and good looks and was described as the golden child of the Tudor family. Pampered as she might have been, but there was no escape from royal duty. The teenage Mary is married of to the elderly and ailing king Louis of France. Every since Mary is known as The French Queen. However, she made Henry VIII promise that she could choose her second husband according to her will. The King of France did not live long and acted quickly and married without her brother's permission Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, the trusted friend of the King and the man, she was in love with. The King is first furious, but the forgiving. The French Queen and her husband stars of the Tudor Court and there marriage a reasonably happy one, however without a male heir. In the divorce struggle of Henry VIII. and Queen Catherine of Aragon, Mary sided with the Queen an.

Her daughter Francis became the heir of the house and became the mother of the ill-fated Queen of nine day, Jane Grey. In a last tribute to his beloved sister Henry VIII had settled the succession after his offspring first on the descendants of Mary and only than on the ones of Margaret, in spite of the superior claim of Margaret.

This book is well written, with a great flow and interesting information about the two princesses. A great study of the Tudor period and of two very typical Tudor princesses. You will enjoy this excellent book.
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