Start Reading Our Book of the Week: The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory

Start Reading Our Book of the Week: The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory

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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-649_bannerPhilippa 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.

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      Synopsis

      'How long do I have?' I force a laugh. 'Not long,' he says very quietly. 'They have confirmed your sentence of death. You are to be beheaded tomorrow. We don't have long at all.'Seventeen-year-old Jane Grey was queen of England for nine days. Using her position as cousin to the deceased king, her father and his conspirators put her on the throne ahead of the king's half-sister Mary, who quickly mustered an army, claimed her crown and locked Jane in the Tower. When Jane refused to betray her Protestant faith, Mary sent her to the executioner's block. There Jane turned her father's greedy, failed grab for power into her own brave and tragic martyrdom.'Learn you to die' is the advice that Jane gives in a letter to her younger sister Katherine, who has no intention of dying. She intends to enjoy her beauty and her youth and find love. But her lineage makes her a threat to the insecure and infertile Queen Mary and, when Mary dies, to her sister Queen Elizabeth, who will never allow Katherine to marry and produce a potential royal heir before she does. So when Katherine's secret marriage is revealed by her pregnancy, she too must go to the Tower.'Farewell, my sister,' writes Katherine to the youngest Grey sister, Mary. A beautiful dwarf, disregarded by the court, Mary finds it easy to keep secrets, especially her own, while avoiding Elizabeth's suspicious glare. After watching her sisters defy the queen, Mary is aware of her own perilous position as a possible heir to the throne. But she is determined to command her own destiny and be the last Tudor to risk her life in matching wits with her ruthless and unforgiving cousin Elizabeth.
      Philippa Gregory
      About the author

      Philippa Gregory

      Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the internationally bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Now she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.Her other great interest is the charity that she founded nearly twenty years ago: Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells for the primary schools of this poor African country.A former student of Sussex university, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing.She lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire.

      Books by Philippa Gregory

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