When he tires of her, she sets out to school her sister, Anne, as a replacement.
Politics and passion are inextricably bound together in this compelling drama. The Boleyn family is keen to rise through the ranks of society, and what better way to attract the attention of the most powerful in the land than to place their most beautiful young woman at court? But Mary becomes the king’s mistress at a time of change. He needs his personal pleasures, but he also needs an heir.
The unthinkable happens and the course of English history is irrevocably changed. For the women at the heart of the storm, they have only one weapon; and when it’s no longer enough to be the mistress, Mary must groom her younger sister in the ways of the king.
What happens next is common knowledge – but here it is told in a way we’ve never heard it before, with all of Philippa Gregory’s characteristic perceptiveness, backed by meticulous research and superb storytelling skills.
‘Sisterly rivalry is the basis of this fresh, wonderfully vivid retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn. Rather than settling for a picturesque rendering of court life, Gregory conveys its claustrophobic, all-consuming nature with consummate skill. In the end, Anne’s famous, tragic end is offset by Mary’s happier fate, but the self-defeating folly of the quest for power lingers longest in the reader’s mind.’ Publishers Weekly
‘It is a credit to Gregory that she is able to sustain interest in an epic-length tale when the ending is one of the most well-known moments in English history. The very believable dialogue and detail take you all the way into the claustrophobic privy chambers of the royal palaces! Gregory has launched herself into a popular period and produced something with that most underrated of virtues: readability.’ The Times
‘This compulsively readable novel is a wonderful account of the Tudor court! This is the finest historical novel of this year’ Daily Mail
‘Philippa Gregory’s books are always a good read’ Sunday Telegraph
‘This is an intelligent variation on a familiar tale [with] witty use of metaphor’ Times Literary Supplement