Hello humans! Back with another book review, today’s has a bit of a Tudor twist. I had one of those fun occasions where two of the books you are reading are set in a similar time period. In this case, Lady Mary is set before the time period in Witchborn (which is a very different genre at any rate) but it was nice to revisit the Tudor monarchs, something I hadn’t done since A-level History!
By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Henry the Eighth and Catherine of Aragon’s divorce as you’ve never heard it before – from the eyes of their daughter, Princess Mary.
More than anything Mary just wants her family to stay together; for her mother and her father – and for her – to all be in the same place at once. But when her father announces that his marriage to her mother was void and by turns that Mary doesn’t really count as his child, she realises things will never be as she hoped.
Things only get worse when her father marries again. Separated from her mother and forced to work as a servant for her new sister, Mary must dig deep to find the strength to stand up against those who wish to bring her down. Despite what anyone says, she will always be a princess. She has the blood of a princess and she is ready to fight for what is rightfully hers.
This book isn’t my normal read, other than alternative histories like And I Darken I haven’t really delved into the world of historical fiction, odd for an ex-history student! This book deals with the childhood and teenage years of Mary the first, also known as Bloody Mary. I’ll confess I knew very little about ‘Bloody Mary’ before reading this, as most of my Tudor knowledge is Elizabeth I centred. As a result, I can’t speak to the historical accuracy of this book, but I do think it was clever to make Mary the main character of this story, as it was interesting to see how her character might have been corrupted by Church history throughout the years.
When this book first started I thought I was really going to hate Mary, she was written as quite a whiny individual, dependant on others to make decisions for her. I think that’s partly because I’m not used to reading characters who are so young, particularly not in a first-person narrative. However, Mary grows into her own pretty quickly and she quickly becomes a strong-willed individual. I’m actually quite glad she started out as unlikeable (for me) as it’s a fun experience for a reader to grow to love the main character. I’m reminded a little of Emma and how you have to be willing to like the character.
What I particularly enjoyed about reading this book was the huge sense of dramatic irony you get from reading it, knowing a bit of the background to the Tudor age. It’s heartbreaking to see Mary’s parents divorce through her eyes, especially knowing Henry the eighth isn’t even started yet, so many more women are going to end up hurt. I think this would be a great book to read if you knew absolutely nothing about this period (I don’t know how much they teach the Tudors in schools outside England) but it’s got a certain power to it when you do have that additional knowledge.
This is a powerful story of the role of women (for there are more women than just Mary in this story) in a time which most people write off as being just for the men. Mary, Elizabeth and their subsequent female monarchs did huge things while in power (obviously not all of them good) and this book goes some way to showing that Mary was exceptional even before she was made Queen.
Should you read this? If you enjoy a good bit of political intrigue and some strong-willed ladies then I would say so. As a fantasy reader, I could have done with more dragons, but maybe I’m just being picky.
My rating: 4 stars
This book comes out on April 5th 2018.
I did receive a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? What other Historical Fiction should I be reading? Let me know in the comments below!