* This post is brought to you by the nearly 2 feet of snow Mother Nature brought our area over the weekend. Since I couldn’t be out doing last minute Christmas stuff, I spent some time catching up on my reviews. *
Her Mother’s Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor by Julianne Lee
I’m not sure how common it is, but I have some very clear memories of friends at sleepovers daring each other to look into a mirror and say “Bloody Mary” several times. I don’t remember any one actually doing it. We were all too freaked out by what might happen if we did. In Her Mother’s Daughter, Julianne Lee used the Bloody Mary folklore to encompass her story of the life of Queen Mary Tudor. Lee begins her story at the very beginning, when Mary is the beloved daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Once Henry set his sights on Anne Boleyn, she quickly fell from Grace. She no longer received the affection from her father to which she had grown accustomed and she was separated from loving mother. She was declared a bastard, removing her from royal succession. Even still, her father made no plans for her marriage. Without her mother, her father, or a husband, she was left all alone in her early years in the dangerous waters of Tudor England.
Julianne Lee, all too aware of Mary’s reputation, set out to write an even-handed novel about this Tudor monarch. Was she at heart an irrational, murderous woman or did she become the Queen she became due to her circumstances? She structured the novel by beginning each section with a reflection from Mary addressed to the sleeping girls at the slumber party. The story behind the reflection is then picked up by others, both gentry and commoners. This worked well for me because we got the details that only those heavily involved in the drama or living with its fallout would know. It illustrated very well how much Mary’s life was impacted by events and people well outside of her control.
I am not an expert on the life of Mary Tudor, but I knew the basic story when I began this novel. Lee held my interest throughout. In one section, I was so absorbed into the book that she raised my hopes of Mary finding love. I really enjoyed this novel. There was only one part of the story that didn’t work for me well was when it followed Philip after he left England. I understand the intent of that section, but especially since this novel begins with the young girls to whom Mary is appealing, Philip’s exploits are more explicit than necessary. Whether you are new to the Tudors or someone who enjoys this time period as much as I do, you should give Her Mother’s Daughter a try.
I would like to thank Kaitlyn from Berkley/NAL, Penguin Group USA for sending me a copy of this novel for review.