Although I’m familiar with the Tudors, having studied them for A-level and at the start of my degree, Lady Jane Grey, Queen for 9 days in between the death of (Protestant) Edward VI and (Catholic) Mary I, didn’t feature much; but I didn’t even know that she had two younger sisters – Katherine and Mary.
Philippa Gregory’s last Tudor novel tells their fascinating stories, Mary Grey’s particularly so.
With Edward VI’s death, the Tudor line could only continue with a female. The royal status of his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, had been thrown into doubt by his father, Henry VIII. The Grey girls’ claim to the throne through their mother, the daughter of Henry VII youngest daughter, Mary, with Mary, Queen of Scots’, claim coming through Henry VII’s eldest daughter, Margaret. Throw religion into the mix, and a bunch of powerful-but-not-royal nobles, and you’ve potential for plots galore.
That said, it’s a bit of a strange combination, with parts 1 and 2 following the development of Maud and Tim’s relationship from meeting through the university sailing club to the arrival of daughter Zoe and the impact she has on the wider family relationships, and parts 3 and 4 covering Maud’s solo sail across the Atlantic after the death of her daughter and breakdown of her marriage. I found the ending a bit odd, disconnected from the rest of the already disjointed narrative.
Some of the reviews make it sound like there’s some uncertainty about Maud’s earthliness. I found none – her supremely self contained character has been shaped by her unemotional parents and the distant relationships that result.