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.
We have some keen history lovers in our group, so it would be an interesting experiment, reading a Philippa Gregory. Historical fiction can play an important role in widening the knowledge base of fiction readers, especially when the research is thorough and accurate. Gregory fills this role admirably and the majority of our group recognised this.
However, there were some of us who felt Three Sisters lacked something essential in the details and found it hard to continue with the writing style and a quick search on Google delivered more information, filling in some important gaps. It could be argued this alone is a positive reason to read historical fiction. Any book that has you reaching further for information has to be a good thing, right?
Then we had those of us who enjoyed both the content and writing style. The details of court life and the role of women within the royal fracas was found to be entertaining and engaging. Such a personal look into the women’s lives fills the need of the fiction reader, while at the same time imparting knowledge without the dry (and at times tedious) facts and figures of non-fiction.
Either way Three Sisters, Three Queens showed the clear lines between those who love their pure history and those who are willing to speculate and enjoy an intriguing tale within the confines of the past.