“There are many about us, Cardinal, who seem as one thing but are another. Do you think Mary here is one of those?” The queen pokes my shoulder hard. I flinch. “She and her family of traitors. Look how scared she is. What do you think she fears?” I can barely breathe and my heart is beating so hard that I fear she can hear it. I am wondering what Jane would have done – would she have told the truth and died for it?
Sisters of Treason focuses primarily on three disregarded figures from the Tudor period. Lady Katherine and Lady Mary Grey are the two younger sisters of deposed ‘Nine Day’ Queen, Lady Jane Grey, and their Tudor blood is more a curse than a blessing, meaning they live their lives at the perilous epicentre of the struggle for the Tudor succession. The fact that the Stuart line eventually won that struggle has meant that the younger Grey girls became little more than forgotten footnotes in history. Their stories though allow us a glimpse of the danger, drama and intrigue of the period and offer an alternative perspective on the turbulent reigns of Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. Another overlooked Tudor woman, court painter Levina Teerlinc, helps the girls negotiate the perilous terrain in which they find themselves, whilst also offering an outsider’s perspective on the Tudor Court from a woman who defied convention to earn her living as a portrait painter.
In Sisters of Treason, Lady Jane Grey has just been executed by her cousin Mary Tudor; her two younger sisters, Mary and Catherine, live in the shadow of their sister’s tragic demise. Lady Catherine’s fatal flaw is her compulsive desire for love, while clever Lady Mary is burdened with a crooked spine and tiny stature – and both have inherited the curse of royal blood. It is court painter Levina Teerlinc who helps the girls survive Mary Tudor’s reign, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, court life becomes increasingly treacherous for the Grey girls.
Sisters of Treason is available in hardback for £14.99 from the 22nd of May 2014