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Jul 2, 2015

Giveaway celebrating the paperback release of SISTERS OF TREASON by Elizabeth Fremantle

Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle
Simon & Schuster paperback release (USA) June 30, 2015

From the author People called “a must-read for Philippa Gregory fans,” a “terrifically entertaining” (The Sunday Times, London) novel about two sisters who must survive life in the Tudor court after the execution of their sister Lady Jane Grey who was queen for just nine days.
Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal death of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Fremantle brings these young women and their perilous times to vivid life.
Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous career at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness—and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act. It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth Tudor, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her Queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for.

Knowing that I have become a fan of Elizabeth Fremantle, the publisher has kindly offered my blog readers a chance to win a copy of Sisters of Treason which has just released in paperback via Simon & Schuster. I wanted to share with you also these quick questions that I asked Elizabeth regarding the second book of her Tudor trilogy.

While researching 'Sisters of Treason', was there anything truly intriguing that was not public or popular knowledge of the era?
For me the most fascinating thing is the story of the girls themselves, so close to the throne and yet few people except true Tudor enthusiasts have heard of them. Indeed even the facts of Lady Jane Grey’s short life remain widely unexplored and most don’t fully understand why she had a claim on the throne, let alone her forgotten younger sisters. It was for this reason I wanted to explore their lives in Sisters of Treason.
Catherine Grey’s deliberate self- starvation is a little known detail and deeply shocking and Mary Grey’s disability has often been glossed over but I discovered, through a conversation with a historian who specializes in the period, that it is possible that her scoliosis was inherited from her ancestor Richard III, who we now know definitely had the condition. It is possible too that her cousin Edward VI was also a sufferer.

Considering the sisters' potential claim to the throne, how do you feel Katherine and Mary felt about their relation to the throne?
Given they had seen their sister go to the block aged only seventeen because of her royal blood it is likely that they felt a great deal of apprehension about their proximity to the throne. This is how I have depicted it in the novel. They are both so young when they find themselves at court (nine and fourteen) it is hard to imagine them as anything other than fearful. Certainly when you know how their lives panned out, their royal blood was more a curse than a blessing.

Why did you choose to tell the story from three different point of views, and what benefit did you find by using a lesser-known figure to help tell the story?
I wanted the two girls to tell their own stories and show how they developed as individuals growing up in such difficult circumstances. Each has a different perspective on the same events and I wanted to demonstrate that through their distinct voices. I felt it was important to have a reliable older voice to hold the narrative together and so I brought in Levina Teerlinc. As a female court painter she intrigued me and I felt her links to the Grey sisters made her the perfect person to tell their story. Her role of painter suggested to me that she would observe the world in a particular way, noticing things others don’t and I used this to help the reader see with her eyes.

In your portrayal of Queen Elizabeth, how close to the truth do you feel the portrayal is of her character?
For me it’s the truth, but of course Elizabeth in my novels is an entirely fictional character. I armed myself with as much knowledge as I could and from that extrapolated the person she was to become in my trilogy, which follows her from girlhood to her death. Everyone’s idea of a figure as well known as Elizabeth is subjective and it is impossible to arrive at a definitive truth about people, even those we feel we know well, from so long ago. So I suppose all we can hope for is a version of the truth.

Tell us more about your current works in progress and who of the Stuart era you plan to focus on.
Watch the Lady has just been published, so the trilogy is complete and I am now working on a novel about Arbella Stuart, another girl with Tudor blood that compromises her entire life. She was raised to be Elizabeth’s heir only to see the throne go to her male cousin. She is a fascinating figure and was a prolific letter writer so I have been able to really get beneath her skin for my narrative. The story has many links to that of the Grey sisters which make the two books work together as a piece. Following that I will move forward in time, keeping my focus on interesting women whilst telling the history of a period of great turmoil, from the Gunpowder Plot through the Civil War and the execution of Charles I, to the great fire and plague and the bawdiness of the Restoration.

Other links at Burton Book Review:
Interview with Fremantle for Watch The Lady release
Review of Watch The Lady, book 3 of the Tudor Trilogy
Review of Queen's Gambit, book 1 of the Tudor Trilogy

One lucky follower will win a copy of the new paperback release of Sisters of Treason!

Please leave a comment on this blog post regarding what intrigues you about the story of Sisters of Treason.
Have you read other books with the Grey sisters? Have you read any other works of Elizabeth Fremantle's?

Please leave an email address so that I can contact the winner; you will have 48 hours to respond to my request for your mailing address.

If you are an Email Subscriber, please forward that email post to reviewer{@} and you will receive an extra two entries, please also comment here to tell me that you emailed me.

Good luck! Giveaway open to USA and ends July 6th, 2015.