In an age where producing sons was all that mattered and Queens rose and fell depending on the sex of their child, three girls with royal Tudor blood were born to the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk, parents with a passion for gambling and an ambition to climb the royal ladder. The stakes they wager – their daughter’s lives against their growing ambition. For the oldest daughter, Lady Jane Grey this means that they will stop at nothing to place the crown of England on her head as Queen. But when their plan to marry her to Edward VI fails, they strike a far deadlier arraignment with the Duke of Northumberland. For the middle daughter, Lady Katherine Grey her beauty will not save her from her parent’s ambitions. To survive her family’s shifting fortunes, Katherine must learn to change with the times and serve as a lady in waiting to the Queen who executed her sister and then again to Elizabeth, who is determined to humble the “upstart Grey”. Katherine comes close to stealing her cousin’s throne and risks the fury of a desperate Queen for love. For the youngest daughter, Lady Mary Grey, a dwarf with a twisted spine who never hopes to win a man’s devotion or love, no one expected much of her or for her. Her size is both a blessing and a curse; she is able to hear everything, the good and the bad. In an effort to protect the people that she loves, Mary will be the catalyst for disaster.
This was a pretty decent novel – it was impeccably researched and beautifully written. Normally I am not a fan of novels that switch back and forth between different character’s perspectives however it worked in this case. It was a refreshing change to hear the story of the Grey sisters from the lesser known sisters, especially from Mary. The author was particularly effective at distinguishing the voices of the three sisters as the voice that was given to each individual sister was unique and realistic – one could definitely relate to the characters; Jane with her desire to be the perfect daughter and to do whatever is expected of her; Katherine, the beautiful daughter who has unrealistic notions of love and Mary, the neglected and unloved daughter who manages to outlast them all despite a life of extreme hardship and disaster.
I have to be honest – it took me a while to really get into the story. I found it slow to begin with but it started to pick up about a third of the way in. I also was not completely convinced with the portrayal of Elizabeth – I know that she could be cold, calculating and manipulative but honestly; she was portrayed as a total “witch” whereas Mary was portrayed in a rather saintly light, and as if she did nothing wrong despite the fact that it was by her hand that Jane lost her head.
Overall it was decent read and the characters voices are enchanting. Chase was able to weave together a suspenseful novel and was able to sweep the reader away into a world where one wrong move could end up costing you your head.