Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory

Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit, Crimson Shore, False Lights & Sacred Lake (

What we thought: Covering the life stories of the three Grey sisters – Jane, Kathryn and Mary – it gives a little known viewpoint of the cruel and scheming Tudor court in the years following Henry VIII’s death through to the tyranny of the court of Elizabeth I.

We start with the most famous of the sisters, Jane Grey, queen for only nine days and sentenced to death for refusing to denounce her faith after her own father and his allies made her a scapegoat. Her story was both stoic and touching, told with compassion and grace and I found I really connected with her story and admired the character Gregory created.

Next in line, Kathryn, also died young, always seen as threat to Elizabeth’s rule, she was imprisoned after secretly marrying Edward Seymour, and spent the rest of her days captive either in the Tower of London, or under the charge of one of the Court’s trusted followers. A similar curse fell on youngest sister, Mary, who never wanted to challenge the throne, and was denied the peaceful life the craved, when she too followed the same path as Kathryn by being imprisoned after secretly marrying the man she loved.

The storylines here, while loosely based on real events and dates, are mostly written from the author’s imagination. But after so many years researching the Tudor court, and getting to understand the paranoia rife at that time, every conversation and decision taken are wholly believable. Gregory has a superb way of bringing character, setting and story to life – be it the girl’s love of animals or their petty sisterly squabbles – everything worked perfectly for me and I was sad when the book came to an end. But glad at least one of the sisters survived the cruelty of the royal court to get the quiet life she deserved and craved.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Elizabeth Chadwick, Alison Weir.

Avoid if you don’t like: Tudor history.

Ideal accompaniments: Roasted ox and a tankard of small ale.

Genre: Historical.

Available on Amazon

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