The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory

The Last Tudor

The latest novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory features one of the most famous girls in history, Lady Jane Grey, and her two sisters, each of whom dared to defy her queen. Jane Grey was queen of England for nine days, dying on the scaffold for her faith. But few people know about her two sisters, cousins to Elizabeth I who also faced imprisonme...

Title:The Last Tudor
Author:
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ISBN:147675876X
Number of Pages:528 pages

The Last Tudor Reviews

  • Caidyn (BW Book Reviews)

    I don't want to touch this book with a 100-meter pole because of the description. (All below quotes are taken from it.)

    Jane died because of Parliament. She did not want to be Queen. She was forced by her parents and in-laws. She immediately surrendered her forces to Mary I (Elizabeth I's

    I don't want to touch this book with a 100-meter pole because of the description. (All below quotes are taken from it.)

    Jane died because of Parliament. She did not want to be Queen. She was forced by her parents and in-laws. She immediately surrendered her forces to Mary I (Elizabeth I's half-sister) and went to the tower. Mary did not want Jane to die. She tried to save her life, but the influential councils denied it and she was executed. Much like what happened between Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Actually, most of the books I've read about the Grey sisters focus on Katherine and Mary. Not Jane. She usually only gets a few chapters. Same with non-fiction books. I think I read a book by Alison Weir that was about Katherine. Jane doesn't have too much written about her since she's not sexy.

    Uhmmmm, no??? There was a literal act in Parliament that forbade anyone who had royal blood in them -- and Katherine Grey did because of her heritage* -- from marrying without the consent of the monarch. Katherine broke that law by marrying Edward Seymour (yes, one Jane Seymour's nephews**). So, she wasn't hated. She just literally broke the law and got thrown in jail since Elizabeth was rightfully upset about her trust being broken.

    Mary was not a dwarf. She had a hunchback. At least, all of the books I've read about her have said she had a hunchback. Also, Mary did the same exact thing that her sister did. Married without permission. So, yeah, she got in trouble for it.

    I'm sorry, but what fucking place gave Philippa Gregory her damn degree in history? Who did this? I mean, she can't even get simple history correct. These times were interesting enough. Stop pitting women against each other!! Elizabeth I didn't marry for many reasons. Fear of what a husband could do to her, fear of childbirth, wanting to maintain all her power, etc. However, she had love in her life. She had Robert Dudley. They loved each other until the end. Practically a married couple.

    Also, "defines what it means to be a writer of historical fiction". I call fucking bullshit. I smell it wafting in the air. No. No. NO.

    This is a woman who can't get simple history correct. This is a woman who makes up homosexual plots. This is a woman who malaigns other women for the hell of it and buys into false charges of incest. I've read ten times better historical fiction by historians -- specifically Alison Weir -- who uses history heavily in her work and keeps it accurate.

    *Katherine Grey was the child of Frances Grey. Frances Grey was the child of Charles Brandon and Mary, Dowager Queen of France. Mary, the Dowager Queen, was sister to Henry VIII. And Elizabeth I was Henry's daughter with Anne Boleyn. So, they were cousins.

    **Edward Seymour was the son of Edward Seymour (Sr) and Anne Somerset. Edward Sr was the brother of Jane Seymour.

  • Linda

    "The devil protects his own."

    A Game of Thrones, indeed. There is more vanity, spite, jealousy, arrogance, murder and mayhem in this crooked line of succession to the Tudor dynasty that would, undoubtedly, make Ned Stark's head spin. Most certainly, winter has come.

    Adding to this evil brew is Papist vs. Protestant and who is backed by whom. When Henry VIII's seriously ill young son, Edward, dies, the recognition of a true heir is at hand. That crooked line runs rivers much like the trickles of sp

    "The devil protects his own."

    A Game of Thrones, indeed. There is more vanity, spite, jealousy, arrogance, murder and mayhem in this crooked line of succession to the Tudor dynasty that would, undoubtedly, make Ned Stark's head spin. Most certainly, winter has come.

    Adding to this evil brew is Papist vs. Protestant and who is backed by whom. When Henry VIII's seriously ill young son, Edward, dies, the recognition of a true heir is at hand. That crooked line runs rivers much like the trickles of spilt paint. The backers of the reformed religion literally shove young Lady Jane Grey onto the throne even though she vehemently shakes her head in refusal. She is touted as "one of the elect". Nine days on the throne is not even enough time to wrinkle one's gown. Lady Jane and those of her inner circle are escourted to the Tower of London. Your Tudor score card will be checking off this potential player.

    Philippa Gregory stirs the pot, once again, with the tumultuous saga of the Tudor clan and their blood-thirsty, disjointed members. But this time, the reader is invited to partake in the lesser known sisters of Lady Jane Grey. Though Lady Jane no longer poses a threat to the throne, Lady Katherine and Lady Mary certainly are. Lady Jane was noted for her intelligence, Katherine for her beauty, and Mary, though quite diminutive in size, was wise beyond her years.

    Enter Elizabeth I. Stately, red-haired, and consumed with jealousy, Elizabeth intends to snip off any tedious bits of the gross-grained, irregular ribbons of her distant cousins. Philippa Gregory paints Elizabeth with broad strokes of paranoia. Robert Dudley, Elizabeth's favored married gentleman, clings like the vines along the castle walls. Elizabeth voices no kinship to these cousins and her malice is felt to the bone. Spies carry tales back to the throne room and Elizabeth doles out enough punishment to make even Queen Cersei Lannister blush. Katherine and Mary will become quite familiar with the decor in the Tower of London.

    This was an exceptionally good read by Philippa Gregory. We come to know the more elusive historical characters of Katherine and Mary Grey and the family preparations made to take one's place in that eerie line of succession to the throne. My only wish is that there would have been a bit more indepth coverage of Lady Jane herself. Perhaps Gregory felt that Jane was already a much covered topic. Her short, ill-fated life left but a faint shadow in the spectrum of time. Furthermore, Elizabeth, though bathed in vanity, never-to-be betrothals, and a will of iron, sits rigidly as the most well-known in her own Game of Thrones.

    I received a copy of The Last Tudor through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Simon & Schuster (Touchstone) and to Philippa Gregory for the opportunity.

  • Iset

    Philippa Gregory’s latest book is as good as a play… if you like fantastical parodies. If you want to read a well-written novel about the Greys, I recommend Susan Higginbotham’s

    instead.

    Here we are again. Another year, another Philippa Gregory release; and many of the same failings and criticisms still apply.

    I’m afraid this year the As You Know Bobbing is off the charts. For the uninitiated, As You Know Bob refers to a mark of poor writing where the autho

    Philippa Gregory’s latest book is as good as a play… if you like fantastical parodies. If you want to read a well-written novel about the Greys, I recommend Susan Higginbotham’s

    instead.

    Here we are again. Another year, another Philippa Gregory release; and many of the same failings and criticisms still apply.

    I’m afraid this year the As You Know Bobbing is off the charts. For the uninitiated, As You Know Bob refers to a mark of poor writing where the author attempts to convey information to the audience by means of character narration or dialogue telling each other things they already ought to know perfectly well. It usually results in clunky, awkward sentences in which the blindingly obvious is stated for no apparent plot reason. It’s fair to say this is a consistent hallmark of Gregory’s writing, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Not only that but it makes it feel as though the reader is being talked down to, or as if the author believes the reader has a limited attention span. In

    , its usage is at the worst I have ever seen in Gregory’s novels.

    Terry Pratchett once said the fantasy version of As You Know Bob is: ‘As you know, your father, the king’. I vote we make the historical fiction version: ‘Jane, the king my cousin is dead’. No one in real life talks this way. I can’t imagine describing my cousin as “the man my handsome kinsman John Smith”. This sort of sentence construction sounds incredibly juvenile. It gives me flashbacks to classrooms when I was five years old: “Auntie waves to John. John is my cousin. He is my aunt’s son. John is my Auntie Sarah’s son and my cousin. John’s full name is John William James Smith of 10 Station Road. Auntie lives at 10 Station Road with John.” It is gratingly repetitive and the tedium of it, by the end of the book, honestly wore me down. It’s enough to drive a person to teeth-grinding. For the sake of my sanity, please, stop. Put a dramatis personae in at the front if you have to, just make the As You Know Bobbing stop.

    I found all three of the protagonists – the Grey sisters, Jane, Katherine, and Mary – to be exceedingly unlikeable. Jane was an arrogant prig, always putting down those around her; even her own sisters. Katherine was judgmental, egotistical, and selfish, to the point where she thinks that everything Queen Elizabeth I ever did is all, in some roundabout way, deliberately designed to be malicious to her personally. I actually began to suspect her character was a paranoid narcissist. Mary, to be fair, a lot of Mary’s narrative gives a rather dry and dull recounting of factual events in an effort to speed the timeline along and get to the end of the story, but her voice was indistinguishable from Katherine’s in its spite and selfishness. I didn’t like any of these women, and yet I get the feeling I was supposed to empathise with and root for them. Why didn’t I believe their assertions? For one, several of the episodes and accusations they hurl are completely fabricated. Two, their relentless determination to condemn at every single turn and make everything about them – that screams biased narrator to me. If anyone came off in this novel as malicious and venal, it was the three Grey sisters. Katherine Grey even begrudges Elizabeth’s recovery from the terrible disease of smallpox, and says she’s not sorry that Mary Dudley (one of Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting) almost died from it too and lost her beauty as a result. Reason? Mary Dudley escorted Jane Grey to Syon where she was proclaimed queen. Wow, what a bitch that Mary Dudley is! She accompanied Jane to the announcement proclaiming her as queen; an act surely deserving of death and the ruin of her looks!

    This is seemingly a standard feature of Gregory’s novels, and The Last Tudor is peppered heavily with misunderstandings of the lives and times of the historical figures it depicts. For example, Frances Brandon is portrayed – as she has perennially been – as the hard-bitten virago whose hobbies included hunting Bambi and beating her children into submission. But if Gregory had done her research she would know that this portrayal is extremely shaky and

    . She does the same thing with Guildford Dudley, keeping to the well-worn but baseless stereotype of him as a rangy, blond mummy’s boy; but Leanda de Lisle’s

    revealed that this was a 1909 fiction created by Richard Davey. She states that Elizabeth was not much of a scholar, when in fact Elizabeth shared her brother’s tutors, learned several languages at a precociously young age, studied and translated scripture and classical authors, learned musical instruments, and her learning was commented upon repeatedly and independently by her contemporaries. In fact this follows on to my next point.

    I think this might well be the most vituperative portrayal of Elizabeth I have ever seen, in the sheer volume of historical inaccuracies and omissions, and the consistency with which the Grey sisters blame her for everything. The condemnation of her scholarly abilities is just the tip of the iceberg. Episodes occur which never happened; events that did happen are cherry-picked and twisted. Apparently Elizabeth deliberately tormented her elder sister Mary as she died by ‘refusing her comfort’. It’s not clear exactly what is meant by this, but if Mary’s wish that she convert to Catholicism is referred to, the possibility that she could not contravene a genuinely held faith, or that she intended to keep to her honest word, is dismissed out of hand. Elizabeth is blamed for ‘queening it over’ Mary when Mary went to serve in her household when she was just a baby – as if an infant conceived of and then enacted this as some sort of intentional malice, rather than it being the hard-heartedness of King Henry VIII. Elizabeth is accused of hating all her step-mothers (in fact she had a good relationship with them), of murdering Amy Robsart (zero proof), even of calculatingly breaking up the marriage of Kateryn Parr and Thomas Seymour, despite being 13 at the time and he her 40-year-old step-father and guardian! Somehow, even Elizabeth offering Robert Dudley to Mary Queen of Scots as a bridegroom comes round to spiting the Grey sisters again. We are told there is absolutely no possibility that it could’ve been intended in earnest, or part of a stratagem to reverse psychology MQOS into a disastrous match with Darnley – we are literally told that Elizabeth just hates the Grey sisters so much that she is willing to fling the love of her life aside to a rival heir to the throne in order to remove the Greys’ claims. It gets worse. The teenaged Elizabeth is described as stout and big-boned.

    . She is “swarthy and ginger” in comparison to the Greys’ “fair-skinned and blonde”, and described as “old” at just turned 30.

    My eyebrows nearly shot clean off my forehead when I read the author’s note, that this was intended as a feminist portrayal. For a feminist portrayal, this book sure does like to call Elizabeth and Anne Boleyn ‘whore’ a lot:

    Nicholas Sanders, is that you? At this point I would give serious credence to the notion that the 16th century Catholic writer with an axe to grind had used a time machine to propel him to the 21st century, where he writes novels under the nom de plume ‘Philippa Gregory’. The narrative is so focused on blackening Elizabeth’s name that it is not even internally consistent with its protagonists. The Grey sisters are solid Protestants, and yet at one point Elizabeth is damned for refusing to send an army to help the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots regain her throne. There are so many instances of cherry-picking, twisting, and fabrication that I honestly don’t have time to go through them all. One thing’s for sure, this is definitely not a feminist portrayal.

    I just want to have a final word about the pacing, because it was just off throughout. The book is divided into three sections, one for each sister. Jane’s section felt rushed and hurried, with not nearly enough time spent on what should have been some of the most interesting events. Katherine and Mary’s sections dragged and felt like too little butter spread thinly over too much bread. Much of it was repetition – oh the Grey sisters are so beautiful and perfect, the populace love the Grey sisters, Elizabeth is a nasty woman, surely Elizabeth will release them this time – over and over and over again. Their naivety was yawn-inducing, and their Mary Sue perfection was too engineered and syrupy.

    In conclusion, no I did not like it. It seemed to me neither well-written nor empathetic, and in fact came off as poorly written, tedious, and, to rephrase Robin Maxwell; "vicious, unsupportable".


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