Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Queen's Rivals by Brandy Purdy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: June 11, 2013

Their ambitions were ordinary, but they were born too close to the throne... As cousins of history's most tempestuous queens, Ladies Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey were born in an age when all of London lived beneath the Tower's menacing shadow. Tyrannized by Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, the sisters feared love was unthinkable —and the scaffold all but unavoidable... Raised to fear her royal blood and what it might lead men to do in her name, Mary Grey dreads what will become of herself and her elder sisters under the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. On their honor, they have no designs on the crown, yet are condemned to solitude, forbidden to wed. Though Mary, accustomed to dwelling in the shadows, the subject of whispers, may never catch the eye of a gentleman, her beautiful and brilliant sisters long for freedoms that would surely cost their lives. And so, wizened for her years, Mary can only hope for divine providence amid a bleak present and a future at the whim of the throne — unless destiny gains the upper hand. A gripping and bittersweet tale of broken families and broken hearts, courage and conviction, The Queen's Rivals recounts an astonishing chapter in the hard-won battle for the Tudor throne.

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To be a member of the Tudor court was to accept a life that coexisted with the specter of death. For some, it was a necessary evil, worth the privileges of rank, but for others, social status was a burden, a shadow they'd just as well live without. This is the world that comes brilliantly to life beneath Brandy Purdy's pen in The Queen's Rivals.

Now I've read fictional accounts of Jane Grey before, but none of them come close to this book. Purdy examines each of the Grey sisters in equal measure, but her nontraditional character portraits really make her work stand out. Jane is normally portrayed as an innocent sacrificed on the alter of family ambition, but Purdy gifts her a much more astute and complex personality. Katherine is an understandably romantic figure, but here again Purdy found room to exhibit a rare degree of depth. And telling their stories through the oft ignored Mary? Genius

Not just with the sisters themselves, but all round, I found myself fascinated by the intensity of Purdy's characterizations. I didn't always find her cast to my liking, she does take certain liberties in her portrayals, but each and every character has such a distinct makeup and individual role... I can't speak to her style of storytelling as I have no previous experience with her work, but Purdy's spirited imagination made a very definite impression on me even when our views were in opposition.

Would I recommend the book to other readers? It would depend on the reader. The Queen's Rivals offers a unique take on the Grey sisters and stands as a truly singular piece in the realm of Tudor lit, but at the same time I think it best suited to open-minded readers, those who wont outright object to Purdy's unconventional treatment of Tudor history.

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Beyond my window the dark hulk of the Tower of London looms like a monster in a child's nightmare. I used to tell my husband I wanted a quiet life, a simple life, no great, grand palaces for me, thank you, I'd had all that before - Bradgate Manor in Leicestershire, luxurious London town houses, and the Queen's many palaces - and love always meant far more than luxury to me.
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Check out all the stops on Brandy Purdy's The Queen's Rivals Virtual Book Tour 

Monday, June 17
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Tuesday, June 18
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, June 20
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Monday, June 24
Review & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, June 27
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Libraria
Monday, July 1
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, July 3
Review & Giveaway at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Friday, July 5
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, July 8
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, July 9
Review & Giveaway at One Book at a Time
Friday, July 12
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, July 15
Review & Giveaway at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, July 17
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Thursday, July 18
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, July 19
Review at Psychotic State Book Reviews
Monday, July 22
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review & Giveaway at Bippity Boppity Book
Tuesday, July 23
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, July 24
Review & Giveaway at My Reading Room
Monday, July 29
Review & Giveaway at The Broke and the Bookish
Wednesday, July 31
Review & Giveaway at Always with a Book
Monday, August 5
Review & Giveaway at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books
Wednesday, August 7
Review & Giveaway at Cheryl’s Book Nook

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