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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tudor blood, a beheaded sister who was queen, and art history. An interesting book.

SISTERS OF TREASON,  by Jane Fremantle, has as a backdrop a familar story, the short reign of Lady Jane Grey. The book, however, goes a step beyond other historical fiction books and gives us a look at Jane's two sisters, both somewhere in line for the crown. In addition, the court artist figures prominently in thier story.

As usual, with the Tudors, this is a tale of politics, family, love, and loss. We get to know Jane's sisters, Catherine and Mary. Catherine was impulsive and given to making unwise decisions, usually in the name of love. Lady Mary, on the other hand, seems the most suited to any type of high rank but is burdened with a crooked spine and a tiny stature almost as a dwarf.

Both girls have inherited the cursed Tudor blood that puts them, or at least Catherine, in line for the Queen's distrust. Mary excapes by being the Queen's "pet", treated almost as a pet monkey would be treated. She hates it, but endures it.
The girls are under the loving and watchful eye of the court painter Levina Teerlinc. She becomes not just a trusted advisor, but a mother figure to the girls. From Levina's viewpoint, we see life at court from another point of view.

The book covers the reigns of both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Family feuds, royal blood, and religious upheaveal cloud the girls' everyday existance. This is an interesting sideline to the Tudor history and art history of the time. I enjoyed the book.

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