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Carpe Librum

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Review: The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen - Leanda de Lisle

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen is one of the best nonfiction books that I have had the pleasure to read. Taking complicated circumstances and unraveling them for the greater understanding of the reader, Lisle also injects plenty of personality into her writing. At times, this highly informative book read as easily, and was as interesting, as a fast paced novel.


I enjoyed learning more about the famous Grey sisters. If you are a Tudor-phile, you have likely heard of them - or at least a fictional version of them. The author's thoughts on Jane were quite different than the fictional accounts that I have read of her, and I found her an admirable young woman in her own right. With no need to romanticize her story, Jane is presented as intelligent and devout - and with a little bit of attitude! Her quick rise and downfall is just as tragic without painting her as a naive pawn.


Katherine's story is no less heart wrenching, if for different reasons. I find it difficult to admire Elizabeth I when I read about her jealous cruelty. Not only did she basically drive Katherine to her death, but she made her life miserable and disinherited her children. The Virgin Queen was more of a bitter spinster.


Finally, Mary Grey's story is the least dramatic, though Elizabeth did her part to torture the poor man who dared to fall in love with this Grey sister as well. She was, at least, finally allowed her freedom, if not love and a family.


The remainder of the book details the remnant of the Grey family heading into the English Civil War, which seemed to be largely caused by Elizabeth's stubbornness and bad decisions.


Overall, a wonderful, detailed look at the true story of the Grey sisters and the circumstances that led to the end of the Tudor dynasty.