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Friday, January 13, 2012

Three Maids for a Crown by Ella March Chase

Title: Three Maids for a Crown: A Novel of the Grey Sisters
Author: Ella March Chase
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Broadway

In the second novel from Ella March Chase, we meet sixteen-year-old Jane Grey, a quiet and obedient young lady destined to become the shortest reigning English monarch. Her beautiful middle sister Katherine Grey charms all the right people--until loyalties shift. And finally Lady Mary Grey, a dwarf with a twisted spine whose goal is simply to protect people she loves--but at a terrible cost.

In an age in which begetting sons was all that mattered and queens rose and fell on the sex of their child, these three girls with royal Tudor blood lived under the dangerous whims of parents with a passion for gambling. The stakes they would wager: their daughters' lives against rampant ambition.


I’m always happy to find historical fiction about the Tudors, that isn’t about Henry or Elizabeth, and I think this book falls in that category. I actually read it as part of a book club, otherwise I probably would have missed it. The book tells the story of the Grey sisters, the granddaughters of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon. I was only vaguely familiar with Frances Gray, their mother, and out of the three sisters I was only familiar with Jane Grey, for obvious reasons as well as Helena Boham Carter’s movie Lady Jane (which I recommend!). Because the movie romanticized Jane’s life so much, I was very shocked in the beginning of the book. I knew how Jane would end, but knowing how miserable she was even before her death was simply heartbreaking.

When it comes to the book, I can say I found the writer’s attempt too ambicitious. The story is told from Jane’s, Katherine’s and Mary’s point of view, but when putting down the book and picking it up I found myself guessing who’s point of view I was reading. It’s hard to distinguish who is the narrator because the girls voices are not to different from each other. I think a simple third person narration would have been better. In terms of pacing, I found myself very engaged in the last half of the book, particularly with Katherine and Ned Seymour’s story. However, I can’t say the book is ‘unputabledown’, especially for those that are even more familiar with the story than I was. The story did show me a side of Elizabeth I (a very unflattering one, if I may add) that I wasn’t familiar with, as well, I was completely sadden by how all three sisters ended up (what made it worse was how it’s pretty much all true!). That said, I recommend this book (for those Tudor lovers out there) with reservations

Visti Samita @ Book Purring


Mystica said...

The story told from the sisters angle may be interesting rather than from the main stars of the Tudor era.

Book Purring said...

It really is, and it's a different side that I just wasn't familiar with so it made it fun

Heather R said...

The only book I have read about Jane Grey is Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir - which I thought was excellent. However I don't know much at all about her sisters. Thanks for the heads up about how the narrations do not differ from each other much.