Philippa Gregory needs no introduction. Nearly everyone has encountered at least one of her novels. If you haven’t, The Last Tudor is a brilliant place to start.
Philippa Gregory has written over thirty books since she began publishing in 1987. She’s best known for her historical fiction, particularly The Other Boleyn Girl, adapted into a film starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman in 2008. She especially focuses on English history, primarily on the Tudor and Stuart periods.
The Last Tudor is tender and intense, romantic and heartbreaking. Lady Jane Grey was Queen of England for nine days after King Henry VIII dies. Her father tried to grab power before the throne could pass to Catholic Mary Tudor, still clinging to Catholicism even after England has embraced Protestantism. However, with support of the people, Mary Tudor manages to grab back the throne and sentences Lady Jane to be beheaded.
While imprisoned in the Tower of London, Jane Grey writes a letter to her sister, Katherine Grey. ‘Learn you to die,’ she suggests, but the stubborn and intelligent Katherine has no intention of dying. She, and her sister Mary, are determined to live and love. Katherine’s in love with an heir to the great family Seymour, and Mary with the queen’s sergeant porter.
But the death of their beloved sister is only the beginning of their troubles. Katherine and Mary must cling to their family, their loves, and their lives, and they begin to realise that even when the more reasonable, Protestant Elizabeth I comes to the throne, they will never be allowed to marry, for fear of another Tudor heir to the throne.
While Katherine and Mary thrive and struggle serving Elizabeth, they must make a decision: love or life.
Based on historical fact, The Last Tudor is gripping as it tells a tale of two women largely forgotten by the eyes of history. Everyone is focused on the big names – Elizabeth I, Bloody Mary, poor Lady Jane Grey – but what of those who lived their lives under their shadow? Their trials and tribulations are heartbreaking, not only for their factual basis, but for the delicate and moving manner in which Gregory treats their legacies.
The Last Tudor is her final novel based on the Tudor family, bringing the hugely successful fifteen novel series (though you don’t need to read them all; each is standalone) to a close. For fans of Gregory, it’s definitely bittersweet to see the Tudor novels come to an end, but we’re sure there’s plenty more brilliance to come.
Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her work has been adapted for the screen in The Other Boleyn Girl movie and the critically acclaimed STARZ miniseries The White Queen and The White Princess. Her most recent novel is The Last Tudor. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds two honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.