‘How long do you have?’ I force a laugh.
‘Not long,’ he says very quietly. ‘They have confirmed your sentence of death. I am so sorry. 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.
Winner: Audiofile Earphones Award (2017)
Released in 2017
This has been a journey of discovery for me into the lives and characters of the Grey girls. I knew of Jane before I started research but I knew next to nothing about her sisters and it was a lucky guess that there was more behind the sentimental portrait of Jane that took me to the stories of the three of them. I struggled for a title until I had finished the book and then I chose this ambiguous one. Mary is the last Tudor of the Brandon branch – a fascinating and unknown character to end such a famous line – but Elizabeth is the last ruling Tudor, the throne inherited by a Stuart. She could have named Katherine as an heir and put a Tudor/Seymour boy on the throne of England and broken the jinx on Tudor male heirs. But her rivalry and paranoia was too much for her. The stories of the Grey girls show the enterprise and courage of young Elizabethan women who defied two queens, to make their own lives. Jane chose death rather than deny her faith, and her sisters conspired against the throne, pursuing their own loves and ambitions and risking their sister’s fate: execution for treason. This is the darkest portrait I have ever seen of Elizabeth – I have responded only to the facts of her treatment of her cousins, who as kinswomen and heirs should have been under her protection but found themselves at the centre of her fears.
Book opens in 1550
England’s king, Edward VI, the Protestant son of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII, is not yet 18 years old. The country is ruled by a council of men who jostled for control of the young king. Edward has no male heir, and does not favour his two half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. When Edward’s health starts to deteriorate the race is on to secure an heir and the council looks to Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Mary Tudor Queen of France.
Library Journal Xpress Reviews
"Gregory’s first-person perspective on late Tudor England’s turbulent history will delight existing and future fans."Full Review
Antonia Senior, The Times
"Gregory’s deep knowledge of the period shows. She is particularly good on the subtleties of the ever-fluctuating currents of power and influence in the Elizabethan court....This is a compelling, convincing interpretation."Full Review
The Gilmore Guide to Books
"If you’re looking for escapist reading this summer, The Last Tudor, and all of Gregory’s novels are the perfect choice."Full Review
Leanda de Lisle, Express
"brilliant "Full Review
Kathe Robin, RT Book Reviews
"The Grey sisters, Jane, Katherine and Mary, were tragic figures, but in Gregory’s hands they become powerful women who defy their queen. Weaving three distinct stories into one novel is a feat."Full Review
Fanny Blake, Woman and Home
"Spellbinding story of political and personal shenanigans."
Laura Milne, Express
"Gregory’s skill has always been to breathe life into historical figures, creating real and engaging characters, and her fans will love this final instalment of her Tudor saga."Full Review
AudioFile Magazine (AudioFile Earphones Award Winner)
"Narrator Bianca Amato delivers another flawless performance as author Philippa Gregory reaches deep into history, using impeccable research to speculate on the hearts and minds of three Tudor women."Full Review
Amy Gwiazdowski, Book Reporter
"True to her style, Philippa Gregory weaves a story that draws readers in and tugs at the heart, featuring characters who defy everyone’s expectations... every detail is pristine, and the drama is spot on."Full Review
Sadie Trombetta, Bustle
"Master of historical fiction Philippa Gregory returns... Poised to be another outstanding addition to the best-selling saga, this late-summer release is worth waiting for."Full Review
Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail
"With their immaculate research, pacy narratives and a stubborn insistence that history is not only about men, Philippa Gregory’s bestselling novels have opened up Plantagenet and Tudor history for many."Full Review
Mackenzie Dawson, New York Post (This week's must-read books)
"From the bestselling author of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl.’ This title... brings new meaning to the term ‘sibling rivalry.’"Full Review
Pam Norfolk, Blackpool Gazette
"an intriguing and compelling account, and one that will seal Gregory’s reputation as a master storyteller"Full Review
Historical Novel Society
"Despite the tragic subject matter, a fascinating read."Full Review