Saturday, January 2, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - The King's Sisters by Sarah Kennedy

Series: The Cross and the Crown (book 3)
Pages: 320
Publisher: Knox Robinson Publishing


It is now 1542 and another queen, Catherine Howard, has been beheaded for adultery.  Although young Prince Edward is thriving, and the line of Tudor succession seems secure, the king falls into a deep melancholy and questions the faith and loyalty of those around him. Catherine has found herself in a unique position as a married former nun.  Now she is a wealthy widow.  She has two children, a boy who has successfully joined the young prince’s household and a daughter who lives with her at Richmond Palace, home to Henry’s cast-off fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, now designated “The King’s Beloved Sister.”  Catherine also enjoys the attentions of widower Benjamin Davies, and in the festive court atmosphere, she has furtively indulged her passion for him.  But England has changed again. Anne of Cleves hopes for reinstatement as queen―until questions arise about the finances of the houses she keeps.  Catherine, as one of the king’s “reformed sisters,” is singled out, just as she realizes that she is carrying a third child. The King’s Sisters explores the Tudor court under an aging Henry VIII.  He now has a son and heir, but his two daughters remain players in the political intrigues. The Cross and the Crown series follows the very private Catherine as she is thrust into the scheming.  She is skilled enough to serve a former queen . . . but this may be the very quality that endangers her future.

My Review

The Kings Sisters by Sarah Kennedy is an extremely well written, as well as interesting work of historical fiction, however it was a little slow starting for me. After I had gotten a chapter or two into the novel, it began to pick up for me. The slow start could be due to the fact that it is book three in The Cross & the Crown Series, so I had to figure a few things out, as I have not yet read books one and two. However, I don't feel that it is necessary to read the first two books in order to follow along with what is going on in the novel. The main character, Catherine, belongs to Anne of Cleves household in Tudor England. King Henry VIII is still King of England, and has just recently beheaded his queen, Catherine Howard. The atmosphere is that of intrigue and conspiracy, and the main character finds herself embroiled in one intrigue, and must use her wits to stay out of the grasp of Martin David Martins, who is after more and more money and power.

Ms. Kennedy does an excellent job at staying true to Tudor history with her novel. I really like that she obviously has done a lot of research, and there are no areas in the novel where I had to really suspend my disbelief. The author also is able to take the facts, and turn it into a tale that reads nothing like a history book, but like a fascinating story that takes the reader right into the midst of Tudor England.
I will definitely be looking into books one and two of The Cross & the Crown Series. The only reason I am giving this novel a four, rather than five stars, is the fact that it took a little bit to get into the story. I like to be pulled into a story within the first couple pages, but it took a couple chapters for me to be able to get into this novel.

Praise for The Cross and the Crown Series

“A true page-turner.”—Historical Novels Review

“It is not necessary to read the first novel in the series to enjoy this book, but those finding this their first introduction to Catherine will surely search out the first novel to spend more time with this feisty woman in her richly detailed world.”—Foreword Reviews

“….In City of Ladies Kennedy takes her place with Daphne du Maurier, Anya Seton, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Hilary Mantel as writer of superb historical fiction.”—Suzanne Keen, author of Empathy and the Novel

About the Author

Sarah Kennedy holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature from Purdue University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College. The author of seven books of poems as well as The Altarpiece and City of Ladies, books one and two in The Cross and the Crown series, she has received individual artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, as well as an award for scholarship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She teaches at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. Her website is

Want to start reading The Cross and the Crown Series? Click below to purchase book 1 in the series, The Altarpiece.

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