Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory

Posted January 29, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

Three Sisters, Three Queens

Three Sisters, Three Queens

by Philippa Gregory

Series: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels #8
Publisher: Touchstone on August 9, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Target Age Group: Adult
Rating: ★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

When Katherine of Aragón is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure. With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined—with Margaret’s younger sister Mary—to a sisterhood unique in all the world. The three sisters will become the queens of England, Scotland, and France.

United by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. Katherine commands an army against Margaret and kills her husband James IV of Scotland. But Margaret’s boy becomes heir to the Tudor throne when Katherine loses her son. Mary steals the widowed Margaret’s proposed husband, but when Mary is widowed it is her secret marriage for love that is the envy of the others. As they experience betrayals, dangers, loss, and passion, the three sisters find that the only constant in their perilous lives is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.


Three Sisters, Three Queens is not one of Philippa Gregory’s stronger novels.  After listening to her addendum at the end of the novel, I think the lack of historical content may have affected the story – simply put, there’s not a lot known definitively about Margaret’s life, and so many things had to be imagined.

What I’ve found in my personal preferences within Philippa Gregory’s canon is that I prefer the books built around more famous figures.  The Other Boleyn Girl is absolutely fantastic.  I really enjoyed The Lady of the Rivers as well.  On the other hand, I didn’t care particularly for The Queen’s Fool, which features a fictional character as the protagonist.

This is all personal opinion.  All I’m trying to say is that with more historical fact comes a more compelling story.  So compared to some of her other works, Three Sisters, Three Queens was a bit of a let down for me.  This is truest of all because I absolutely loved The Constant Princess.  When Three Sisters, Three Queens was first announced, I was so excited about this book because I wanted to see more of Katherine of Aragon.  For whatever reason, I expected this novel to be split between the perspectives of the three sisters, and that was not the case.  The entire book is from Margaret’s perspective and, honesty, Margaret doesn’t have much to say.

There were moments that were interesting.  For example, early in the narrative when Margaret was first married, scenes between herself and King James of Scotland were compelling.  But for the most part, Margaret spends passages and passages whining and complaining about not being treated as well as her sisters or brother, and not giving the respect and riches she believes she deserves.  Sometimes, she’s right.  Mostly, she’s just complaining and it is tiresome.

I felt like we never got much of a feel for Margaret or the other characters simply because she was presented as so shallow and changeable.  Told in a first person perspective, Margaret doesn’t let anyone else into the story because she’s selfishly focusing on her own wants and needs.  I think the narrative suffered for that, because it was difficult to impossible to root for anyone unless you liked Margaret herself.  So that may just be a matter of perspective.

As far as historical fiction goes, I still think Philippa Gregory does an excellent job in general.  There wasn’t a whole lot for her to work with here, and her style is still very readable.  I think I would have found this novel much more tedious if I had been reading in instead of listening to it.  If you’ve enjoyed her other works or are interested in Margaret, Dowager Queen of Scotland, then Three Sisters, Three Queens may be a great fit for you.  If this is your first foray into her work, however, I’d definitely start with one of her other books.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★
Plot: ★ 1/2
Characters: ★★★
Writing: ★★★
Pacing: ★★
Narrator: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★


Are you interested in the Tudor family?  I’m not interested enough that I seek out a lot of reading, but I do have my favorites of the queens and I find Henry VIII’s reign fascinating in a bit of a morbid way.  It’s incredible to see how those in power abuse it… Anyway, if you’re interested in the Tudors – who is your favorite to learn about?  Let me know in the comments!

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