Friday, September 30, 2016

Book Thoughts - Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory

Three Sisters, Three Queens

Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
published 2016
556 pages

Synopsis -

As sisters they share an everlasting bond; As queens they can break each other’s hearts.

“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.

My thoughts -

This novel definitely tested my love of all things Tudor. I sense that Margaret of Scotland has less source material about her life available than the rest of the rowdy clan, because the author seemed to give her the same thoughts over and over again, and unfortunately for the reader, those thoughts tended to the whiny and self-absorbed. Gregory really wanted her readers to believe that Margaret was highly beloved, by her two sister-queens, and by the procession of handsome, accomplished men she called husband. Unfortunately, she didn't give us much reason to believe that, instead portraying a women whose obsession with place and precedence was nearly all she ever thought about.

I have noticed something about myself as a reader lately, however. I'm well past the point in my reading experience where I have to actually LIKE a character to sympathize with them. It's probably what makes me the only Game of Thrones fan in the entire world who doesn't despise Cersei - she's awful. I'd never deny that. She does horrible things to everyone with little remorse. But I GET why she does those things. I understand her motivation, however misplaced, and so I sympathize with her even while I recognize that her actions are unforgiveable. I had much the same reaction to many of Margaret's actions. (Not the whining. The whining was just annoying.) Margaret makes some REALLY dumb decisions. But honestly, in her place, I'm not sure I would have been any wiser than she was. So while I am able to see how misguided were some of her efforts, I can still sympathize with the actions she takes. I don't LIKE her, but I GET her.

I also felt a little mislead by the title of this book. I really thought this would be a story about three women - instead, this is totally Margaret's story, from Margaret's point of view. Katharine and Mary are players, but never in the forefront. I think a bit of time spent in their heads might have been a nice change from Margaret's incessant complaining about who got to proceed whom when entering a room.

All that said, while this is certainly not my favorite of Gregory's Tudor novels, it did have all the juicy, gossipy pseudo-soap opera-y relationship shenanigans that make Gregory one of my main comfort read authors. Don't read this thinking you will fall in love with the main character - do read it for the insanity of the royal life that you just can't get enough of. It wasn't my favorite, but it wasn't the worst thing I've ever read either.

Finished - 9/28/16
Source - South side library
MPAA rating - PG-13, like all Gregory novels, for period danger & romance
My rating - 3/5

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