Three sisters and three very different voices from the past all coming from one family. Philippa Gregory's The last Tudor is the final story in her successful series that began with Anne Boleyn. Starting with Jane Grey, the doomed nine day queen, Gregory draws a portrait of a teen devoted to both her religion , as well as the duty she owes her name. Born the granddaughter of King Henry's younger sister, Mary, she knows she is royal and though she is unsure of the legality of the circumstances bringing her onto the throne, she accepts her role with fatal responsibility, willing to die for both her name and her devotion to her religion. She is one extreme, and with Gregory's deft descriptions, each of the players take real shape, from her jealous and negligent mother to the boy she ends up marrying. Gregory is able to recreate the rushed coup de tat, giving each of the players credibility that made the circumstances understandable and relatable. When she is sacrificed for the Spanish marriage Mary so desires, her sister, Catherine takes over the narrative. Fun-loving and superficial, Katharine's story really shines. She grows from a sullen teen to a warm and devoted wife and mother. Where Jane sacrifices all for religion, Katherine does it for love. Falling in love with Edward Seymour creates an alliance that threatens Elizabeth. Young, fertile, attractive, the Seymour-Grey union provides the possibility of a viable succession. Petty and mean, Elizabeth destroys Katherine's life by separating her from her husband, declaring the marriage invalid and any offspring illegitimate. I have read about Katherine's plight many times, Gregory paints a vivid picture of a young life slowly smothered by the political machinations and vanity of a selfish queen. Lastly, Mary Grey emerges from the shadows as a survivor. Born a little person, she is relegated as unimportant in the dynasty, but with her quiet dignity and strength she is able to survive the hostile palace. Able to eavesdrop, she navigates the treacherous shoals of Elizabeth's narrow world until she meets Thomas Keyes. She falls in love with the castle guard and then, throws caution to the wind to marry him. Elizabeth vindictively ruins their lives as well. All the key players are caught in Elizabeth's narcissism, her vile pettiness and heartless revenge. It's a sad story of being a victim of impossible circumstances, and while each girl may see their sister's weaknesses, they are blind to their own. It was my favorite of the later books in the series and a read that once I started, I couldn't put down.