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Book Review: "Sisters of Treason" by Elizabeth Fremantle

"Sisters of Treason" by Elizabeth Fremantle
"Sisters of Treason" by Elizabeth Fremantle

Losing a sister is heartbreaking and hard. Losing a sister that leaves you smelling of treason and always under suspicion by the Queen of England is even harder. Lady Katherine Grey and Lady Mary Grey were the younger sisters of the doomed nine days queen, Lady Jane Grey. Her "treason" and execution left the girls not only longing for the comfort of their beloved and wise older sister, but them in danger with both the paranoid Tudor sisters and queens, Queen Mary I of England and Queen Elizabeth I of England. While one sister followed her mind and tried desperately to stay safe while treason surrounded her, the other sister followed her heart and entered a lion's den of even more treason. "Sisters of Treason" by Elizabeth Fremantle follows Katherine and Mary while they navigate the Tudor court with their royal blood while treason surrounds them due to that blood.

"Sisters of Treason" is told from the perspectives of three different women. Lady Katherine Grey is the middle Grey sister who is beautiful, vivacious, and with not a care in the world. She thrives on giving love and being loved. A dangerous liaison turned marriage that produced two children with Edward Seymour, son of another family full of treason puts Katherine in grave danger for doing what she pleases and angering Queen Elizabeth. Lady Mary with her tiny stature and crooked spine is more cautious and uses her mind and wit to survive the Tudor court, but her love for her sister may be her greatest weakness. Royal portrait painter Levina Teerlinc made a promise to her dear friend Frances Grey. She vowed to protect Katherine and Mary, the beloved daughter of Frances, but not even she can protect them from Queen Mary's blood thirsty attitude and Queen Elizabeth's jealousy and paranoia. "Sisters of Treason" follows three different women as they navigate the dangerous Tudor court with treason following them every which way.

"Sisters of Treason" is a very unique look at the Grey sisters. Many novels have covered the Grey sisters featuring Jane's tragic end, Katherine's marriage folly, and Mary as a bystander, but none have fleshed out Katherine and Mary as well as this novel. Katherine and Mary come to life courtesy of Fremantle. Fremantle portrays each sister so brilliantly. Fremantle's Katherine loves being in love and being loved, has a soft heart, but is also selfish and does not always weigh the consequences or think of danger. Fremantle's Mary suffers the heartache of not being a pretty and willowy court beauty and being deformed, but her mind, wit, loyalty, and compassion make her worth a million court ladies. The Grey sisters have never felt more alive and interesting thanks to Fremantle.

Other standout portrayals include Levina, an artist who values her friendships and loyalty above everything else. Her loyalty and love for the Grey family is touching. Queen Elizabeth is alluring and captivating, but also cruel and cold. Queen Mary is paranoid, blood-thirsty, and desperately unhappy. Edward Seymour is handsome, gallant, and completely in love with Katherine. His sister and Katherine's beloved friend Jane also known Juno is a delight and the perfect friend for Katherine. The most interesting portrayal though is of Frances Grey. History and particularly historical fiction have portrayed her as a cold, unfeeling, and cruel mother who abused her children and thought of power and prestige before her daughters. Fremantle's Frances adores her children and will do anything for them. It's a refreshing take on a woman who does not always get a fair portrayal in history.

"Sisters of Treason" is a wonderful read for Tudor fans. It is a fresh take on doomed sisters and really gives an interesting and wonderful look at the court of two paranoid and difficult Tudor queens. This novel is a wonderful representation of sisterhood, loyalty, and love of all kinds.

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