Philippa Gregory, author of the Cousins' War series, is often regarded as the queen of historical fiction and this meticulously researched novel focuses on the legacy left by Lady Jane Grey, a woman who was Queen of England for nine days.
Using her position as cousin to the deceased king, her father and his conspirators put her on the throne ahead of the king's half-sister Mary, who quickly mustered an army, claimed her crown and locked Jane in the Tower. When Jane refused to betray her Protestant faith, Mary sent her to the executioner's block... It's here where Jane turned her father's greedy grab for power into a tale of brave and tragic martyrdom.
Jane leaves all kinds of letters to her younger sister, Katherine, and they're all intended to help her enjoy her beauty, youth and to find love. Katherine's lineage makes her a threat to the insecure and infertile Queen Mary and when news of a secret marriage is revealed by her pregnancy, she is also sent to the tower. She, too, leaves the youngest Grey sister, Mary, a letter with advice.
Mary is a beautiful dwarf who has been disregarded by the court and she finds it easy to keep secrets. After watching her sisters defy the Queen, Mary knows she is a possible heir to the throne, but she's determined to stay in charge of her own destiny.