Book Review: Mary, Bloody Mary

Mary, Bloody MaryTitle: Mary, Bloody Mary
Series: Young Royals #1
Author: Carolyn Meyer
Publisher: Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company)
Original publication in: 1999

This is a paperback reissue edition.

Date read: July 16th 2013

This is the story of Mary Tudor as she, the precious jewel of England, became a bastard child unable to inherit throne and serving her baby half-sister in a matter of few years.

I can’t vouch for historical authenticity as I have little knowledge of the Tudors and England in general in the sixteenth century. It is stated, right above the copyright: Mary, Bloody Mary is a work of fiction based on historical figures and events. Some details have been altered to enhance the story.

I would say Mary, Bloody Mary, the first book in Young Royals series, is targeted at rather younger audience than adults who expect historical accuracy with biography-like tone.
The novel heavily concentrates on Mary Tudor, aged 10 at the beginning, as she is the narrator of her teenage years. Yep, the book ends with the death of Anne Boleyn when Mary is twenty. The author writes that she is fascinated by royals who had to face hardships at young age, thus the series name, Young Royals. I expect the other novels in the series will have a similar time span of the heroine.

At first I did not like Mary, Bloody Mary all that much. I had heard of Bloody Mary, of course I had – even back then when I was eight or nine. Henry VIII was the only English monarch (or just monarch, period) who fascinated me because he went through so many marriages that ended in divorce or death of wives.
But the more I think about the book, the more I like how the characterization of Mary was done and how she seemed real to me, seeing the whole affair through her (yes, prejudiced, but then again, aren’t we all?) eyes. Her boiling rage at Anne Boleyn and her father, her humiliation at having to serve as a maid and her anguish at being separated from her mother – they all made Mary more appealing to me. Oh, she has a fiery temper and unbending will, to be sure.
But reading this book made a historical event so… personal. We talk in facts and figures in history lessons but all that has once been a person’s (or persons’) life. I no longer see Mary only as a harsh queen who shed her share of blood but also as a frightened and mistreated child, who has been torn away from her mother and abandoned by her father.

That being said, I have to add I am rather looking forward to reading the sequel, Beware, Princess Elizabeth, about the early life of Queen Elizabeth I.

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