The second book in this series about Tudor England starts with execution of Lady Jane Grey. The story alternates between Jane’s sisters Mary Grey and Katherine Grey. Mary is misshapen and used as a doll or pet by both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, and Katherine is pretty and flighty. The character of the narrator is court painter Levinia Teerlinc. Katherine spends most of the book in the Tower of London, having married without Queen Elizabeth’s permission, and possibly mixed up in a plot to assume the throne herself or have one of her two sons she gives birth two while in prison assume the crown. The author portrays Katherine as having no knowledge or involvement in any plotting. Mary is a sympathetic character, and I do admire her small acts of rebellion while at court.
I did not enjoy this novel as much as Queen’s Gambit. While Queen Katherine died tragically, she had much more free will than either of the Grey sisters. The overall story seems much darker. I do think the author did a good job of conveying the horror of the period when Queen Mary had so many Protestants executed. I did not find Katherine’s story to be any great love story. She seems to want any man to love her, or at least lust after her, and Hertford just happened to be there. He abandons her when she is pregnant with her first child. I did not find Levinia’s story as engaging as Dorothy’s, the previous narrator. Also, Queen Elizabeth is churlish to the extreme. While I did not enjoy it as much, I am still interested in reading Fremantle’s third novel in this series Watch the Lady. The books do an excellent job of immersing you in Tudor life.