2019 Reviews · Britain · Guest Review · historical fiction · Mrs R Review · Throwback Thursday

Guest Throwback Thursday Book Review: Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory


Welcome to a weekly post, Throwback Thursday. This weekly book review post is a way to share some old favourites, books that were published over a year ago and most importantly those books that have been languishing on the to be read pile for far too long!

three sisters three queens

“There is only one bond that I trust: between a woman and her sisters. We never take our eyes off each other. In love and in rivalry, we always think of each other.”
    When Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure.  With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined – with Margaret’s younger sister Mary – to a sisterhood unique in all the world. The three sisters will become the queens of England, Scotland and France.
    United by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other.  Katherine commands an army against Margaret and kills her husband James IV of Scotland. But Margaret’s boy becomes heir to the Tudor throne when Katherine loses her son. Mary steals the widowed Margaret’s proposed husband, but when Mary is widowed it is her secret marriage for love that is the envy of the others. As they experience betrayals, dangers, loss and passion, the three sisters find that the only constant in their perilous lives is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.

Mrs R’s Review:

Three Sisters, Three Queens is the eighth Plantagenet and Tudor novel by renowned historical fiction writer Philippa Gregory. Set in England during the medieval times of the 1500s, Gregory’s meticulous research brings the senses alive  as the reader finds themselves transported back in time. Men’s and women’s clothes are beautifully described in colour and style, the cold, draughty castles with weak fires left one shivering while some of the food dishes are mouth wateringly delicious. It is also a reminder of how lucky we are to live in these times with no fear of the black plague that haunted the rich and poor alike.

This is the story of Margaret Tudor, the daughter of Elizabeth of York and Henry VII, who brought the red and the white roses together after many years of turbulence. Margaret is also the sister of the infamous King Henry VII and Mary Tudor. Told in the first person, readers step into the shoes of Margaret as she recounts her life as teenage girl, ending with the imminent death of her sister years later in life. Gregory presents an alternative view of Margaret, one of a girl of entitlement. As a result, Margaret came across as a narcissistic person who put herself before friends and family alike no matter what. This is especially evident when Margaret becomes pregnant multiple times over the years. While others may not agree with this portrayal, I found this entirely plausible for children born into wealth but more importantly, it made for a refreshingly different read. To take this story to the next level, Gregory examines family relationships. She looks at those between brothers and sister with Henry and Margaret and between sisters, Margaret and Mary. Gregory also delves into the complex relationship that is between sisters-in-laws.  Ultimately, the relationship between women is one that is put under the microscope. It is complex and difficult one as each woman fights to do what is best for themselves, their children and their country. But in a time when women had few rights and men held the power, even a queen had to succumb to the will of their husband or the king. This led to fractious relationships and the physical distance enhanced the problems as women had to wait for written or verbal communication from far off countries. This reader felt much sympathy for the situations Margaret found herself in over the course of her life and the decisions she had to make. Historical fiction is a wonderful way to appreciate how far women have come today!

Even though this is a worthy book to read, the one problem that Three Queens, Three Sisters has is that it is over 500 pages. At over 500 pages, a novel like this needs time and dedication to fully immerse one self in the environment. If the reader has both,  it is an educational and interesting book.

**** 4 stars

Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory was published on 10th August 2016 by Simon & Schuster Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Three Sisters, Three Queens, Philippa Gregory, visit here.



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