Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: The Queen's Rivals

The Queen's RivalsAuthor: Brandy Purdy
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Kensington

Their ambitions were ordinary, but they were born too close to the throne...

As cousins of history's most tempestuous queens, Ladies Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey were born in an age when all of London lived beneath the Tower's menacing shadow. Tyrannized by Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, the sisters feared love was unthinkable —and the scaffold all but unavoidable...

Raised to fear her royal blood and what it might lead men to do in her name, Mary Grey dreads what will become of herself and her elder sisters under the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. On their honor, they have no designs on the crown, yet are condemned to solitude, forbidden to wed. Though Mary, accustomed to dwelling in the shadows, the subject of whispers, may never catch the eye of a gentleman, her beautiful and brilliant sisters long for freedoms that would surely cost their lives. And so, wizened for her years, Mary can only hope for divine providence amid a bleak present and a future at the whim of the throne — unless destiny gains the upper hand.

A gripping and bittersweet tale of broken families and broken hearts, courage and conviction, The Queen's Rivals recounts an astonishing chapter in the hard-won battle for the Tudor throne.

Only a fool believes in Forever.

Kate and I were unable to conceal or curtail our excitement, bobbing up and down on our toes and fidgeting enough to provoke some sharp words from our lady-mother, until at last we mounted our ponies and rode out with glad hearts, reveling in the warm softness of our winter furs, gold-fringed and embroidered leather gloves, and new velvet riding habits – cinnamon for Kate and black cherry for me.

But Jane had to soldier along bravely, pretending nothing was wrong, hiding her head, and her sorrow, in her books, letting time pass and her heart heal, forcing herself to forget that love for a mortal man had ever dared trespass on that sacred ground where there was room for only God and learning.

This book tells the story of the Grey sisters – Jane, Katherine, and Mary – whom I did not know that much about until after reading. Of course, I did know more about Jane than Katherine and Mary. This story is told from Mary’s perspective because she is the youngest sister and lives the longest. Mary isn’t as attractive or well-liked as her sisters and I loved Purdy’s take on her as a character. This story follows the three sisters up to Jane’s wedding and their lives as royals along with their family ties, marriages, and sudden twists and turns that will have you wanting to know more about the women that were the Grey sisters!

I thought Mary’s voice was perfect for this book. As I said before, Mary was not as praised and admired as her sisters were and she often mentions praying and wishing to be more beautiful like them. Mary does adore her sisters, however, and I think that Jane and Katherine were painted beautifully through her eyes. Mary has such a good heart and her positive spirit always shines through even when she and her sisters or her family in general are going through a rough period politically, socially, or even emotionally. She was a great lead and I enjoyed learning more about the Grey sister that seems to be swept under the rug often times.

Lady Jane Grey seems to be just an incredible bad word! At the beginning of the book she seems like such a prude, but we find out more about Jane as we get deeper into life with the Grey’s. She is the oldest sister, so most of what happens throughout the book happens to her first. She gets married and assumes her own household. However, what intrigued me the most about Jane was her desire to follow God and better her education. At first this was all she cared about. She didn’t want anything to do with being in love, and I enjoyed reading how confident she was in her beliefs. She was definitely a strong-willed woman.

The one thing that I did not enjoy about this book was the fact that some scenes were vulgar and graphic. Mary leaves out no detail when it comes to sharing the drunken state of her parents and their friends as they party into the wee hours of the morning. And the list of events Mary describes just goes on and one. I completely understand that this was part of the author’s tactic, but I could have done without it.

I did enjoy the book and I did enjoying traveling back through history, especially at a time like this one!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Kensington in exchange for my honest review***

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