Sunday, November 6, 2016

Review: Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory

Three Sisters, Three Queens (The Plantagenet & Tudor Novels, Book #8)
by Philippa Gregory
Release Date: Augus 9th 2016
2016 Touchstone
Ebook Edition; 556 Pages
ISBN: 978-1476758872
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

When Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure. With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined—with Margaret’s younger sister Mary—to a sisterhood unique in all the world. The three sisters will become the queens of England, Scotland, and France.

United by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. Katherine commands an army against Margaret and kills her husband James IV of Scotland. But Margaret’s boy becomes heir to the Tudor throne when Katherine loses her son. Mary steals the widowed Margaret’s proposed husband, but when Mary is widowed it is her secret marriage for love that is the envy of the others. As they experience betrayals, dangers, loss, and passion, the three sisters find that the only constant in their perilous lives is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.

My Thoughts
Three Sisters, Three Queens is a bit deceptive in its summary as the point of view in this story is entirely Margaret's while I was hoping for an intertwining of all three of the women and their personal stories.  Although I usually tend to like Philippa Gregory's writing, and her actual writing was still very good in this story, making the events and situations seem very realistic and interesting, it was Margaret herself I had a really hard time with, and I really feel the author was not up to par with her character development in this regard.

First of all, when we first meet Margaret, she is around 12 years old, whiny, self-centered, vain, and just so full of her self-importance and how she ranks to everyone around her.  To be honest, I disliked her instantly, feeling completely sympathetic to Katherine of Aragon and her situation, and I almost stopped reading the book right then and there.  Having read so many other Gregory books however, I decided to give it another shot, and although Margaret's character didn't really improve, there was enough of interest in the people who surrounded her and their development, that it kept me reading.  It's a shame though, as this could have been a really fabulous book, but there are only so many pages of listening to Margaret's thoughts on how she ranks against everyone else in Europe and how she feels slighted because she has to enter behind Katherine of Aragon in state processions before you just want to slap her.  There were a couple of times when Margaret was reprimanded for her behaviour and I thought that we would finally see some growth in her character, but it very quickly deteriorated back to thoughts of how Katherine is getting all of this glory and I got tired of it.   Grow up already!!  It got tiring real fast.  If the author has alternated points of view, this whole thing may have been avoided, although maybe not, as the other two may have been obsessed by this too, who knows? 

Unfortunately, the character development kind of overshadowed a lot of the major events that happened in Margaret's life, and I would have preferred some exploration around her life with James, the abduction of her son, the coup in 1524, her flight from Scotland and the ramifications, the religious ramifications of her actions as well as what was happening in England, the events happening in England due to Katherine's infertility issues, and other historically interesting facts, and the impact these had on the various women.  So much of this was glossed over in light of the petty rivalries between Katherine and Margaret that as soon as anything got remotely interesting, it quickly went back to rankings and popularity figures, and petty jealousies,  and so on.  

Three Sisters, Three Queens definitely had some interesting historical moments in it, hence the rating, but I really feel these were glossed over in favour of the petty jealousies and rivalries that existed between Katherine and Margaret, whether real or imagined.  Margaret is definitely not a likeable character by any stretch of the imagination, and she didn't really develop beyond that of the girl we saw from the very beginning which means she was whiny, self-centered, petty, and jealous for pretty much the entire book.  I only pushed through this because I enjoyed some of the author's previous novels, but I don't think I would do it again.  I don't think I would recommend this one as this is one that you have to see for yourself what you think about it.