Three Sisters, Three Queens, by Philippa Gregory

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 to a unique sisterhood. Along with younger sister Mary, they will become the queens of England, Scotland and France.

Despite being united by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. As they experience betrayals, dangers, loss and passion, they find the only constant is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.

Gregory normally excels at giving life to historical women figures, and at times Three Sisters, Three Queens is compelling. However, while it may be interesting, it is far too long and extremely repetitive.

Despite the title, it is not a triple threaded story of the three Queens. It is really about Margaret, Queen of the Scots, written solely from her point of view. The story barely contains any narration or input from the other two sisters, Mary, Dowager Queen of France, and her sister in law, Katherine of Aragon. There is also clearly no bond between the three women. Margaret is driven by jealously and envy of the other two, while they simply cut her off as soon as she is out of sight.

While Margaret is a figure that historians know little about, she is portrayed as jealous, petty and self absorbed. Her constant complaining and self-pitying became repetitive and boring. The book could have easily been set in a high school, as it was the 15th Century. Margaret is not sympathetic and it becomes hard to find any empathy for her as her life unravels.

If you’re a fan of the Tudor world, then Three Sisters, Three Queens will appeal. Sadly though, it felt a lot like Gregory herself had given up and penned this novel purely to pull in some extra coin. The tediousness and repetitiveness made it feel like homework, rather than a book to read for pleasure.

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TITLE: Three Sisters, Three Queens
AUTHOR(S): Philappa Gregory
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
RRP: $22.99
ISBN: 9781476758572

Rebekah is an Otago-based mother of two young girls. The former journalist and primary school teacher has a soft spot for New Zealand authors and young adult fiction. Follow her on Twitter.

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