Title: Sisters of Treason
Author: Elizabeth Fremantle
I am a self-proclaimed history nerd. The History Channel (before it turned into vaguely history related reality show channel), and more recently H2, are the channels I spend the most time watching. I will read almost any historical fiction novel I come across. I like to read history books for fun. When I was supposed to select history classes to fill a requirement for my college degree, I asked if I could take more history classes and have them count as electives. They do.
But despite knowing of the Grey sisters, I admit to only reading extensively on Jane Grey. Her life was one that saddened me immensely. I hadn’t thought to read of the two other Grey sisters. So when Sisters of Treason appeared, I knew I had to read it. Sisters of Treason looks at the lives of the two younger Grey sister and how Jane’s short rein as queen impact them for the rest of their lives, despite not playing a part in the plot.
Katherine is the middle sister and ruled by her emotions. She wants to love and to be loved. She flirts whenever she can, but loves with all she has. She loves court life, but doesn’t want to follow in Jane’s footsteps. Despite having the reputation of being the superficial and not as bright sister, she is smart and can see the world in a way her family can’t. She wants to trust, but knows she can’t.
Being the youngest, and being physically deformed burden Mary. Instead of looking at life as being completely unfair and giving up on everything, she learns to make up for her physical looks with her intelligence and wit. She sees the world in a more pessimistic view than Katherine does; yet she rarely wallows in it. She wants to be seen for more than her looks, and despite knowing that her future does not hold everything she wishes it would, she finds a way to make each day important.
The story of these sisters breaks my heart. Because they represent a threat to the throne, they are never safe from the wrath of the queens, or from people who would rather see them on the throne. Katherine has no aspirations to be anything more than a courtier. Mary wants nothing more than a quiet life away from court. They just want to be safe and have a life that makes them happy. Their stories, both fictionalized in Sisters of Treason and true to history, show that to be close to the crown is to always be at risk. The closer they are to power, the more jeopardized their lives are.
Sisters of Treason is a fantastic look and examination of the lives of the younger Grey sisters. They are never able to escape their family’s treason, and their lives are forever changed. The pressure they are under made me feel for them, and wish they were anyone but themselves. Yet, they are content with the people they are, despite having treason hang over their heads. This is a wonderful historical fiction novel and definitely worth a read, if you enjoy the genre or the time period.
Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.