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The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary,…

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A… (2008)

by Leanda de Lisle

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I liked the little details added by the author, things like: Princess Elizabeth was ÛÏdisgusted at Catherin Parr‰Ûªs sudden remarriage‰Û and the fact that Thomas Seymour as a result, had control of Elizabeth‰Ûªs lands and income (pp. 31-32); the fact that one of Suffolk‰Ûªs creditors made his way to the block as Suffolk was about to die to ask how he would get is money (p. 146); the remark that during a plague outbreak in the summer of 1563, Queen Elizabeth moved the court to Windsor. ‰ÛωÛ_anyone suspected of bring the disease‰Û_.would be hanged‰Û. I thought the book full of fascinating insights such as these although none of these three I mention here (nor many of the others I noted) have any source attributed to them.

The author occasionally jumped out of time and this was annoying but it wasn‰Ûªt enough to make me hate the book. I was somewhat disappointed there wasn‰Ûªt more information about Katherine and Mary although this is really not surprising since women rarely got any sort of credit in history unless they had an impact on the times. I think de Lisle did a good job of researching to get this much information but I also think the title of the book should have been subtitled ‰ÛÏAnd Their Impact on their Cousin Queens‰Û. I learned a number of things about Elizabeth I‰Ûªd been previously unaware of.

The book contained some discrepancies: For example, this sentence referring to Jane‰Ûªs time as Queen: Her reign had, in fact, lasted just under a fortnight, from Edward‰Ûªs death on July 6, until her mother‰Ûªs on the 19th (p.113). I don‰Ûªt understand the last part of this ‰ÛÒ her mother did not die for some years so what this means, I have no idea. And in the Grey family tree, Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford‰Ûªs death date is shown as 1621 but in the Seymour family tree, is noted as a question mark. Just a couple of a number of examples.

Three stars ‰ÛÒ Although I found the book interesting to read, there were a lot of statements (such as Elizabeth‰Ûªs desire for the throne to go back to the Scottish element and Cecil‰Ûªs apparent non-support of Elizabeth) that had no supporting information. Further, in my copy of the book, no footnotes were annotated. There are many notes at the end of the book but you aren‰Ûªt aware of them until you get there. It would have been good to see what passages were annotated as we went along.
( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
I should preface this review with the disclosure that I have always been fascinated by Jane Grey. I saw the movie Lady Jane when I was about 12 and fell in love with the tragic love story of lovers dying over their principles (or at least her husband loving her enough to die for her principles). I couldn’t help but wish for most of the story that Edward Tudor had somehow lived. Of course, he didn’t and he was persuaded in his last days that neither of his half sisters (to become Queen Catherine and Queen Elizabeth I) could be queen. And that somehow his very well-educated cousin Jane Grey would be the ideal replacement (skipping the right of her mother Francis to become queen, which I also never understood). This book tracks the circumstances and tragic decisions that forced the early and tragic ends of all three of the Grey sisters.

Leanda de Lisle is clearly an excellent researcher and writes with enough detail to captivate you through the entire story. She focuses in turn on each sister. The portrayal of Jane was different than the previous portrayals I had read or seen. De Lisle really focuses on Jane’s education and deliberate upbringing in the new protestant faith. She seems resolute but not at all in a puppeted way. I didn’t see any hesitation or have a feeling that she ever questioned why she should be queen. Very fascinating reading.

I had never paid much attention to the second Grey sister who Elizabeth I and Catherine saw as a threat. So virtually all of the information I read related to her and later Mary, the last of the sisters was new to me. The author did a great job reviewing journals letters and the like. I never realized just how much fortune depended on becoming and remaining in the queen’s good favor–the grey family struggled with making ends meet after Jane’s death off and on as Catherine and Elizabeth in turn felt threatened. The queens each held a strangle hold over the future of both of the remaining Grey sisters–even trying to control if they ever married (creating the next male heir rendered either Grey sister extremely dangerous with the preference for male rulers at the time).

If you’re at all interested in the Tudor era, I would recommend this highly. ( )
  mullgirl | Jun 8, 2015 |
Just couldn't get into this book. I did not find The characters fascinating enough to really grab my attention. It could be just me and my weariness of the Tudors. For those who are intrigued by all the nuances of the Tudor age, this probably would be a good book. ( )
  mdelcid25 | Oct 7, 2013 |
Fairly easy to read and enjoyable, The Sisters Who Would Be Queen is a biography of the Grey sisters: mostly Jane, for the first section of the book, but providing glimpses of the rest of the Grey family, and how the girls were raised. Leanda de Lisle attempts to dispel the idea of Lady Jane Grey as an innocent martyr, pointing out her deep commitment to her faith and her deliberate stage-managing of how people saw her. Like other writers, she sees Jane's death with pity, and uses the same rhetoric surrounding her of how childlike she looked, etc.

I learnt a lot about women of the period that I didn't already know -- Jane's mother, Queen Mary, the connections between noble women of the time. It was a bit dry at times, and confusing with everyone's switching of names and so on, but I could more or less keep up and overall I liked the version of Jane it presented -- human, headstrong, and not quite as innocent and unknowing as history might have us believe. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
This is a non-fiction account of the story of Lady Jane Grey and her lesser known sisters, Katherine and Mary. All I can say is that I can't believe that I finished the book. I found parts of this book boring, confusing and too many characters were introduced without explanation or any real comment. Unless you are a real Tudor history nerd I wouldn't recommend this book. 1 out of 5 stars. ( )
  marsap | Jan 12, 2012 |
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Such as ruled and were queens were for the most part wicked, ungodly, superstitious, and given to idolatry and to all filthy abominations as we may see in the histories of Queen Jezebel.
Thomas Becon, 1554
For George MacRae Gimbel
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God, the prime mover, brought peace and order to the darkness of the void as the cosmos was born.
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Evaluates the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey while offering insight into the parallel experiences of her sisters and the broader Grey family, detailing Jane's short reign and the royal bloodline that exposed all three to the enmity of Elizabeth I.

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