* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster Australia *
It's 1501 and Margaret Tudor (sister to the future Henry VIII) is our narrator in Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory.
The sisters in the title are Margaret Tudor, her younger sister Mary and her future sister-in-law Katherine of Aragon. All three sisters will become Queens in their own right - of England, Scotland and France - but it's how they get there that kept me enthralled.
In fact, after the first page I knew this was going to be a 5 star read and was already mourning the fact it was going to end too soon for my liking.
Three Sisters, Three Queens is primarily a story of sibling rivalry, envy, greed and the pursuit of true love. The importance of delivering a male heir and subsequent miscarriages is the cause of much angst and grief for the sisters, but also competition between them.
Secret weddings, betrayals and invasions take place and Henry VIII's overarching influence over each of the women is evident. When the women are in his favour, his attention and support is like the sun, and when he turns his back on Margaret, it almost costs her life.
I'm confident Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory will make it into my list of Top 5 Books for 2016. It's the perfect entry point for YA readers looking to dip their toe into historical fiction who may not know where to start. As well as offering a completely new perspective on the rule of Henry VIII and for me a welcome introduction to Margaret Tudor and her life in Scotland.
Incredibly accessible, the history of the early 1500s unfolds in this novel like a TV drama series, leaving me wanting to binge-watch episode after episode, or in this case, chapter after chapter. Brilliant!
My rating = *****