Review: The Queen’s Rivals by Brandy Purdy

What can I say about Lady Jane Grey that hasn’t already been said?  Everyone knows the story of Lady Jane Grey. If you don’t know her story, she is known in history as the Nine Days Queen.

If you aren’t familiar with this woman’s story then you should really read up on it. The Tudor era is filled with all kinds of fascinating women, Lady Jane Grey being one of them.

Jane did have two sisters, Katherine and Mary Grey who don’t live on in history as infamously as Jane does though which is why this book really appealed to me.

Told through the eyes of the youngest sister, Mary, we learn all about the early lives and difficulties of the Grey sisters. I felt bad for the Grey sisters, they were simply born into the wrong family so to speak.

Since they were next in line for the throne after Henry VIII’s daughters Mary and Elizabeth, so for those in England that opposed both Mary and/or Elizabeth, they made for perfect symbols of a new monarchy. Many rallied to the Grey sisters instead of Henry’s daughters.

Mary isn’t the most beautiful sister or particularly well liked by anyone in her family which means she is often over looked, which makes her the perfect POV character for this tale. Though there was some competition between the sisters no doubt, they remained strong and close throughout their lives.

The novel opens with an older Mary recalling her days with her sisters and recounting all that happens from girlhood to their teen years where marriages, politics, and bloodlines begin to become more and more important in the story.

The sisters are clearly a threat to the other lines of secession, they vow that they have no designs on the throne but at this time, London and the royals live in a constant state of paranoia about the throne.

When Edward VI dies leaving no heir, Lady Jane is crowned queen in a kind of ‘loop hole’. Ultimately those at court call her a usurper and she was eventually executed.

I enjoyed Purdy’s portrayal of the Grey sisters. I especially liked the middle sister, Katherine (Kate). She was kind of sassy and upbeat as a character which I loved. She wanted so desperately to be in love….and who doesn’t? I could easily identify with her.

And who couldn’t love Mary, the often forgotten sister but the one with the biggest, kindest heart. I adored her. Her spirit shined throughout the novel and truly made her the star. She was a very convincing narrator and I felt like I trusted her opinion of her sisters, I didn’t feel like she was unreliable at all.

Jane was a little over the top for me, I don’t know that I connected with her that much. She was brilliant, strong willed and preferred to be more involved in her faith than anything else. She had a few bitch fits in the book which surprised me and I am not sure I cared for.

I liked that her character was meant to be seen as the smart, strong, ‘regal one’ but at times it felt too restrictive for her character….its hard to describe I just felt like there was something wanting in her character. The other two sisters were a delight to learn about but something about Jane just didn’t do it for me as a reader.

Purdy has a very descriptive writing style which I fell in love with! Reading her descriptions of the food, castles, clothes….everything was like seeing it and touching it up close and personal!

It did take me a little bit to get used to Purdy’s writing style though. For me it seemed a little long and dramatic….flowery if you will. Once I got used to it, I was able to become more engaged in the story but it did take a little getting used to at first.

If you are a fan of Phillipa Gregory, you will enjoy Purdy’s writing style. It was a little more spicy than some of the Gregory novels that I have read but not in an offensive way. I liked the use of carefully placed sexual innuendos in the story as it made it a little racier than I was expecting.

Overall an enjoyable read. It didn’t blow my mind but it was entertaining and steady which is a comfort. You can’t beat a solid, consistent novel full of history!


Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Queen’s Rivals by Brandy Purdy

  • Paperback, 368 pages
  • Published June 25th 2013 by Kensington
  • ISBN 0758265999 (ISBN13: 9780758265999)
  • Review copy provided by: HFVBT as part of Queen’s Rivals Virtual Book Tour in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Recommendation: 3 out of 5

Genre: Historic fiction, Tudor lit

Memorable lines/quotes: NA


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