The Last Tudor
Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, Book 13
Written by: Philippa Gregory
Narrated by: Bianca Amato
Length: 19 hrs and 10 mins
Series: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
The latest novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory features one of the most famous girls in history, Lady Jane Grey, and her two sisters, each of whom dared to defy her queen.
Jane Grey was queen of England for nine days. Her father and his allies crowned her instead of the dead king’s half sister Mary Tudor, who quickly mustered an army, claimed her throne, and locked Jane in the Tower of London. When Jane refused to betray her Protestant faith, Mary sent her to the executioner’s block, where Jane transformed her father’s greedy power grab into tragic martyrdom.
“Learn you to die,” was the advice Jane wrote to her younger sister Katherine, who has no intention of dying. She intends to enjoy her beauty and her youth and fall in love. But she is heir to the insecure and infertile Queen Mary and then to her half sister, Queen Elizabeth, who will never allow Katherine to marry and produce a Tudor son. When Katherine’s pregnancy betrays her secret marriage, she faces imprisonment in the Tower, only yards from her sister’s scaffold.
“Farewell, my sister,” writes Katherine to the youngest Grey sister, Mary. A beautiful dwarf, disregarded by the court, Mary keeps family secrets, especially her own, while avoiding Elizabeth’s suspicious glare. After seeing her sisters defy their queens, Mary is acutely aware of her own danger but determined to command her own life. What will happen when the last Tudor defies her ruthless and unforgiving Queen Elizabeth? http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Last-Tudor/Philippa-Gregory/The-Plantagenet-and-Tudor-Novels/9781442394025#
While this entire series is nicely written and painstakingly researched, I put off listening to it. and as I did I experienced a feeling of dread throughout. At some point I began listening at a higher speed just to get through the suspense and that overwhelming dread. We all know the rubric: Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Beheaded, Divorced, Survived which starts off the Tudors from the reign of Henry VIII. Women in that court didn’t seem to fare very well. People at the hands of his daughters did not do well either.
The first book, Jane Grey’s story, presents the “Nine Days Queen” as a young woman prissy with her religious fervor. It showed her as a complex person; forced into a treasonous act she rejected. Katherine seems like a flibbertigibbet at first but she is very young. People were forced into adult positions for which they were obviously too young and rash to handle. This poor girl is treated very ill indeed by the “Virgin Queen.” Said queen comes off as the worst kind of hateful bitch – and distinctly proves her own parentage through her behavior and personality.
The youngest daughter in this story is Mary, (the picture in the lower left of the featured image is Mary)a [then-called] dwarf. Her life is not made any better by being the Queen’s first cousin. But she is usually treated with a modicum of kindness and respect. Gregory does a lovely job portraying her full humanity without the comical way those with a small physical stature often are.
As I progressed, it seemed repetitive. I don’t know whether or not it’s a choice made to show how boring being a noble woman was and how boredom can lead to rash actions. But it gets boring no matter how you slice it. I had was an issue with the lack of final disposition on two children in the book.
After listening to the stories I decided it must be hard for an adult woman to give voice to a teen aged girl without overdoing the higher pitches, the “OMG!s” of the Tudor period and the like. But, Amato does manage to voice them and then give them age and maturity as they grow up.
All in all, Gregory’s work in this series is certainly worth the read. I won’t go so far to say I enjoyed the book – that whole dread thing – but it was well done.