Monday, September 12, 2016

Book Review: Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory

Pages: 556
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Touchstone
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "As sisters they share an everlasting bond; As queens they can break each other’s hearts.  “There is only one bond that I trust: between a woman and her sisters. We never take our eyes off each other. In love and in rivalry, we always think of each other.”  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."

Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII's sister, is a fascinating person who is overshadowed by her infamous brother.  Her life is captivating and it starts with the entrance of Katherine of Aragon to court. As time goes by, she becomes friends with Katherine, or sisters as they like to refer to each other, but her relationship isn't as positive as one would hope since there's so much rivalry at court.  Then there's Margaret's younger sister, Mary, who hopes to marry well.  Eventually Katherine becomes the Queen of England and Mary becomes the Queen of France and Margaret becomes the Queen of Scotland, which essentially puts all three women into powerful positions. There are so many ups and downs between all three women throughout their lives. Some unbelievable, some predictable, but always heartbreaking.  Philippa Gregory's Three Sisters, Three Queens easily brings Margaret Tudor to life; I found myself wanting to learn more about her long after I read the final page.

At first I really disliked Margaret. She seemed really indulgent and petty in Three Sisters, Three Queens . At one point, she openly disliked Katherine of Aragon (even called her Katherine the Arrogant), but then at other times, would respect her and model her own behavior off of her.  She wanted to be friends, but ultimately, they were rivals despite the fact that they were sisters through marriage.  As Margaret gets older and becomes a queen, I enjoyed her story a bit more; however, she never really lets go of her competition with Katherine.

Gregory's portrayal of Katherine in Three Sisters, Three Queens was an interesting one since it was from Margaret's perspective. Usually I find myself sympathizing with Katherine in historical fiction, but there were some moments from Margaret's point of view that made me second guess my allegiance of Katherine. She could be tough as nails and just as vindictive as Margaret.

Then there's Mary who seemed rather vapid in Three Sisters, Three Queens.  She's mostly concerned about fashion and other ridiculous things instead of truly worrying about the political climate.  I found her aspects of the story to be the least interesting, although living at court with Henry's unpredictable behavior might make one less inclined to gossip about the events at court.

One aspect of Three Sisters, Three Queens that broke my heart was the fact that despite the women's differences they still had a lot in common and often this was overlooked. They dealt with issues within their marriages, many miscarriages, the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth, the death of children and so much more. The amount of children that died truly broke my heart and at times it would put a band-aid on the relationships between these women, but then something else would happen to erase all of that. I desperately wanted the three women to support one another and become true allies, but they didn't realize the importance of their friendship until it was too late.

Nonetheless, I found Margaret's life to be utterly fascinating. I had no idea she was put through all of these trial and tribulations, especially in Scotland. I don't want to give too much away, but things weren't easy for her.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, I urge you to check out Three Sisters, Three Queens. I think you'll find Margaret Tudor's life to be as compelling as Henry's. I love reading about women who are sometimes forgotten about in history or only glossed over due to a strong male stealing the limelight, so I appreciated this novel.  I thought I was over the Tudors, but Gregory never disappoints.


  1. I must admit that even though I've been a reader of Phillipa Gregory's Tudor series, I wasn't aware of Henry's sister. It's too bad that I've lost touch with the rest of her books. I feel like I'm missing out.

    1. You can always get caught up or read this one as a stand-alone. Very entertaining for sure! Thanks for visiting, Joy!

  2. I don't read as much historical fiction as I should Christina! Every time I do pick it up I become obsessed and can't put it down until I'm done, and given how much I loved The Other Boleyn Girl, I have little doubt this one will fascinate me in the same way:)

    1. I loved The Other Boleyn Girl as of my favorites! Thanks for visiting, Jenny!


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