The King’s Sisters is the third title in Sarah Kennedy’s series set in England during the time of King Henry VIII and his misfortunate wives.
Like a lot of readers, my interest in Tudor England began when I read Hilary Mantel. I carried Wolf Hall around for months unopened because I was expecting a literary read that might not be too entertaining. How wrong was I! Mantel quickly captured my interest and I couldn’t wait for the sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, another cracking read if you’ve not already discovered that for yourself.
So, starved for the want of Thomas Cromwell, and pending Mantel’s next instalment, I was fair game for Sarah Kennedy.
The King’s Sisters is the third title in Kennedy’s The Cross and The Crown series. The earlier novels are The Altarpiece and City of Ladies, neither of which I have read so far.
I confess to feeling somewhat lost in the early pages of this novel because I wasn’t sure who the characters were. Although the cast and action were colourful and engrossing, I felt the need for more back story to understand what was going on. This probably would not have been a problem had I read the earlier two books.
What I like about The King’s Sisters is the intimacy and colour. Kennedy presents a largely female world. She creates a wide cast of credible female characters. There’s the King’s rejected wife, Lady Anne, now confined to a convent. Then there is his daughter, Mary, “more politician than her father could ever hope to be’. The menopausal Lady Byron and the widowed Catherine Overton are other key players. Overton, the main character, has a new relationship that drives the plot of The King’s Sisters.
An immersive read
More significant than character or plot, however, is the sense of place and time that Sarah Kennedy so skilfully creates. Reading The King’s Sisters is an immersive experience. You almost feel like you are in the room with the women of this novel. If you enjoy historical fiction, I think you’ll like this novel. But, I suggest that you take the time to read the earlier two titles in the series first.
[Disclosure: An ARC of The King’s Sisters by Sarah Kennedy was made available via Netgalley]