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Friday, September 25, 2009

The Virgin's Daughters by Jeane Westin

Genre: Historical Fiction

Copyright: 2009

Pages: 416

Rating 4 Crowns

Summary: The Virgin’s Daughters tells the story of Katherine Grey and Mary Rogers, two ladies-in-waiting for Queen Elizabeth I. Both women were close to their monarch, though they served at different times and ultimately their tales would end very differently.

Lady Katherine Grey is sister of the infamous Nine Day’s Queen, Jane Grey, and cousin to Elizabeth. As stated in King Henry VIII’s will, Katherine is next in line for the crown, however her ambition towards the throne is pretty much non-existent. She has seen what ambition cost her family with the execution of her sister and she will in no way be a pawn for those seeking to replace the Queen.

Katherine’s quiet contentedness with her role in life is blown to smithereens when she meets and falls in love with Edward Seymour (Ned), brother of Jane Seymour (Henry VIII’s 3rd wife). Elizabeth is quick to let them know that there is no way she will ever consent to their marriage – they both have strong claims to the throne and should they conceive of a male heir Elizabeth’s crown could be in great danger from those wanting to depose the Protestant Queen.

Ned and Katherine defy the royal orders and marry in secret, an action that leads them both to the Tower. To say that Elizabeth is enraged would be putting it mildly. For one thing, she is in fear of losing the crown she fought so hard for and for another, since she can’t have the man of her dreams, neither can her ladies. But in the end, will Elizabeth join sides with love and give her blessing to the marriage?

Mistress Mary Rogers has been dreaming of the day when she would be a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth and finally joins the Queen’s household towards the end of Elizabeth’s reign. As a child she had heard tales of Elizabeth’s Court from her father’s ward, Lady Katherine Grey and is now ready to put those lessons to test. As Mary reluctantly falls head over heels for John Harington, the Queen’s godson, she realizes that she is headed the way of Lady Grey, but true love chumps all and the couple is left with quite a dilemma. Will Elizabeth concede to the union? Now that the monarch is ailing, has her heart softened to love or will her bitterness reign until the end?

My thoughts: I confess to not being totally geeked out about another novel on Elizabeth I, even if she is my favorite monarch. But to my surprise, I rather enjoyed it. The writing is good – not quite Sharon Kay Penman writing – but fluid, insightful and entertaining. I personally feel that Elizabeth wasn’t the total bitch as she was portrayed here, but she makes a great villain (if not exaggerated). As to Katherine and Mary, I am glad to have read the stories of these two obscure, but interesting women of history.

Recommended to any historical fiction or Tudor lover!

Visit Amy at her blog Passages from the Past


ibeeeg said...

Thanks for this review. It was great to read your opinion. I am not the biggest Tudor fan (I like a good Tudor read but am not itching for a read) so I think that I will put the title of this book low on my list of to-reads. Leaving room to read books by authors such as Sharon Kay Penman.

Again, thanks for your review.

Passages to the Past said...

No, thank you ibeeeg! I understand, I have a sort of hierarchy with my TBR tower too!

Unknown said...

I really enjoy reading books where some of the main characters are lesser known or fictional but set in the real time period. It is more enjoyable because it doesn't feel repetetive all the time. Thanks for the review.

Laura's Reviews said...

This sounds like an interesting read. I love to read about the Tudor era - it will be nice to read about some different characters!

Thanks for the great review!

Jennifer said...

Awesome review. Thankfully I own this novel, so one less to buy. ;)