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Summary

'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.'

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.

Read by Bianca Amato, narrator of Three Sisters, Three Queens and The Taming of the Queen.

©2017 Philippa Gregory (P)2017 Simon & Schuster UK

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved the book but was confused by the muddle of the recording.

The book was extremely enjoyable. I saw Elizabeth in a completely new light; Gloriana was shown in a human light, a strong but vindictive woman struggling to hold onto power and so resorting to petty jealousy and consequently subjecting people to unjust and illegal treatment. I now question whether it was her strength or that of her advisors which enabled her to hold on to her throne.
However there was clearly a poor editing of the recording as part way through with a long way still to go before the end the final several chapters were read out which as well as spoiling the ending through myself into some confusion.
Other than that I would certainly say this is a highly enjoyable book and introduced me to a previously unexplored side of Elizabeth's court.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The unknown Tudor stories is tragic and spellbinding

This book has been wonderful for me , an avid Tudor reader . This unknown tutor story was difficult to hear at times as it's so hard to think of these women going through such torment with no support from the law of the day .
But what a story the author has created for us , out the pain comes love and life and courage .
The reader bianca is fantastic and brings these incredible ladies to life .
Zena x

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Rosie
  • Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • 23-10-17

Very typical Philippa Gregory, as in very average

This is very much in the same vein as Philippa Gregory's books, of which I have read a good few. I admire her for trying to give the forgotten women of history a voice; it's just unfortunate that she has to give them all the same voice.

The main characters of this book, all of whom have a narrative, sound exactly the same in the way that they speak and think. Lady Jane Grey is probably a bit more interesting than the other two (her sisters), but, well, we all know how long she lasted!

It's unfortunate that, as in a lot of Gregory's books, the women come across as so petty and constantly critical of each other. I can't help feeling that these noblewomen must have recognised how difficult and dangerous life was for each other and would not have despised each other so much for no good reason. In this book, the Grey sisters actually have an excellent reason to despise Queen Elizabeth by the END of the book, but really no reason to do so at the beginning. But Gregory portrays them as hating her for being self-involved and insecure from the very beginning of the book, meaning that neither they nor she have any character development at all.

The lack of character development is one of the most obvious failings of the book. The characters are always so frustrating sure of everything - they're sure that news will come, they're sure that they could never be beheaded - meaning that when the thing does happen, they come across as unbelievably naive and a bit stupid. And yet they sill don't learn from their experiences, but carry on in the same attitudes.

Furthermore, Gregory seems to be a bit obsessed with portraying Queen Elizabeth badly in her books. I would have thought a woman who is so interested in giving a realistic voice to women of history, rather than trying to see them only through the eyes of history (which is inescapably male) would find this queen interesting and inspiring. But Elizabeth gets no credit for any of her political victories, for being strong enough to resist being pressured into marriage, or even for the mere fact of her survival in such a difficult time, and is consistently merely portrayed as a petty, hateful woman. So keen is Gregory to show that Elizabeth is worthless that she portrays one of the Grey sisters as being privately supportive of Mary, Queen of Scots, which I'm sure would never have been the case for anyone from such a staunchly protestant family.

My final gripe is the writing style, which is monotonous and even soporific at times. Gregory can't ever use a pronoun to refer to anybody (it's always 'she, the queen, my cousin Queen Elizabeth' and never just 'she'), as well as other annoying rhetorical devices, such as always saying, 'I feel that it is cold' or 'I think that it is cold' rather than just 'it is cold. This means that her sentences pretty much all sound the same as each other, which is very boring.

In terms of the narration, I must say that Bianca Amato has improved on her reading of previous Philippa Gregory books. A lot of her annoying quirks of speech have disappeared and she pronounces place names correctly now. She still pronounces some words a little oddly, but overall I was quite impressed.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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yet again amazing work

brings to life the story of those the classroom has choose to forget ... outstanding once again !



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic!

Another wonderful audiobook from Philippa. Bianca's narration is great and I just love Philippa's stories.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The Last Tudor

A brilliant insight into the Tudor court and Elizabeth I's selfish rule over England, her court and her subjects.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • MR
  • UK
  • 05-05-18

narration let's this book down

I have loved the Tudors series by Gregory. however the clearly much older voices of narration than the characters is grating and im finding it dull and hard to keep on with. I'm over half way through and find the narration so irritating that I may need to stop. these girls are meant to be under 20 and being voiced by someone who sounds over 50.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing.

My first Gregory book and I loved it. Love the way this is written and couldn’t put it down - not one of you are slightly depressed already though!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely brilliant.

Saw Elizabeth 1st in a new light. Jane Catherine and Mary just came to life. Thankyou Phillipa Gregory

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I feel inspired and empowered

I absolutely loved it! Such a beautiful ending, Inspiring characters and suitingly told by the narrator. Very easy to listen to. This was a great follow for me from watching the TV series 'Reign' about Mary Queen of Scots.

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  • E.M. Biggs
  • 14-04-18

Tail end (or tale's end) of the Tudor saga

This is apparently the last book the author will write on the Tudors and is about three Tudor sisters (cousins of Elizabeth 1), who sacrificed almost everything either for a religious ideal or for love. Because of the latter, I found the novel quite shallow and lacking in substance. I got quite bored with hearing how much two of the sisters loved their husbands. The book wasn't bad enough to abandon, but it was like drinking a very flat watered down Coke. Not at all satisfying after you were expecting something much fuller-bodied. Very disappointing.

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  • Mary
  • 23-08-17

Wow a great read

Apart from Lady Jane Grey I had never heard or known of the other sisters it certainly portrays Elizabeth's paranoia against her coudins. I enjoyed the story so much I am going to go back and start from the first book again.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-09-17

Did not enjoy

I do not understand the chapter arrangement of the book at all. The timeline seems to be scrambling all over the book. The authors note is in the middle of the book(chapter 30). There seems to be repetitive chapters as well. It confuses and annoyed me to no end. Not sure if it is the intention of the author or a mistake from audible.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful