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Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle

Sisters of Treason is the stunning follow-up to the critically acclaimed Queen’s Gambit, which I thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year.

It focuses on two little-known sisters from the Tudor period, who found themselves embroiled in the succession to the throne. The story starts with the execution of Lady Jane Grey, the young “Nine Day Queen.” 

From there we slowly meet the two sisters left behind. Flighty, romantic Katherine, a young beauty at court and her younger sister Mary; small, shy and misshapen but with a sharp intelligence that is masked by her affliction. 

There is also their family friend, the court artist Levina Teerlinc, who helped their mother through her eldest daughter’s cruel punishment and has vowed to watch over girls. The sisters’ story interlinks with the reign of both Mary and Elizabeth Tudor and highlights the dangers faced at court with the changeability of the fierce Queens. 

All the main players are so wonderfully portrayed and I really felt a connection to the sisters as they take it in turns to share more of their story. Their polar opposite personalities complement each other and Levina’s parts, filled with art and emotion add colour to an already riveting tale. 

Elizabeth Fremantle completely immerses you in the world of court; where sharp tongues and whispered scandals are more dangerous than any knife or gun. I really couldn't imagine being part of court where everyone is vying for the Queen’s approval and you’re life is barely your own as there is so much hierarchy, religion and bloodlines dictate so much in this gilded environment. 

This book explores themes that I have such an interest in; namely women and power and women defying convention in an age where such actions could have you killed. Beneath the thrills and fripperies of court life, in this fickle period of history there was such real danger and risk in going against the monarchy, in expressing religious beliefs and even in marrying for love, and all of these elements were wonderfully worked into the sisters’ tales making it so compelling and engaging to read. That these characters are rooted in truth is even more personal. 

The book ends with historical facts about the some main characters and I am really inspired to do some extra reading to learn more about these fated sisters.

Sisters of Treason is a fantastically rich and passionate story of sisterhood, love and politics in a truly turbulent time in history. I really hope there is more to come from Elizabeth Fremantle, continuing the passage of time and events following the Tudor reign in her stunning historical saga. 

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