A plot infused with rebellion, passion, betrayal and an everlasting sisters' rivalry makes this work of historical fiction, Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory, an enticing and thrilling read.
Philippa Gregory, author of the hugely successful The King's Curse, once again adopts the point of view of a lesser-known historical figure to fascinating and enthralling effect. In Three Sisters, Three Queens, readers experience the lavish Tudor world through the captivating first-person perspective of Margaret Tudor, elder sister of the infamous Henry VIII and fascinating individual in her own right. The glorious highs and devastating lows of her tumultuous life in the scandalous courts of England and Scotland are portrayed in rich and vivid detail, making for both an exhilarating and absorbing read.
Margaret Tudor is born into a royal court where comparison and competition with her female peers are inevitable. But things take a far more sinister turn when Margaret, married off to the boisterous King of Scotland in the hopes of a peaceful union between England and Scotland, finds herself in a fierce rivalry with Katherine of Aragon, the wife of her very own brother, Henry VIII. When the two kings go to war, the two sisters-in-law, united by family but opposed through politics, must decide where their loyalties truly lie. Betrayal, heartbreak and animosity inescapably follow, but their family connection persists, and they must choose whether to ultimately unite, or hold a perpetual divisive grudge. On top of this, a third sister vies for the attention of Europe, Henry VIII's younger sister, Mary - another queen, another ally, and yet another enemy to contend with.
Philippa Gregory's unique, fast-paced style helps to make this book a riveting page-turner. As always, the author's thoroughly-researched insight gives readers the opportunity to go beyond dry historical facts and figures. The characters themselves are given a voice and can therefore share a very personal account of the struggles and successes of the time. The book does this in lavish detail, in particular emphasising the strained fair-weather loyalty between the three queens and sisters, providing readers with an insight into Margaret's thoughts and emotions as she uncovers constant betrayals and spiteful acts.
In focusing so firmly on Margaret's rivalries and personal emotional turmoil, there is little room for exploring the actual political changes and policies of the time. It might have been interesting to read Margaret's views on the politics of Scotland, how the kingdoms changed in this period, and to what extent Margaret was actually permitted to be involved in the running and ruling of the kingdom. However, this was perhaps not the remit of Philippa Gregory's novel, and the enthralling tale she weaves - filled with suspense, shocking love affairs and dramatic warfare - does more than enough to make this book an engrossing read.