Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer

(Cover picture courtesy of LIBR 265-10.)

Mary Tudor is a beautiful young princess in a grand palace filled with servants.  She is accustomed to sparkling jewels, beautiful gowns, and lavish parties. Then, suddenly, she is banished by her father, King Henry VIII, to live in a cold, lonely place without money, new clothes, or even her mother.

At first it seems like a terrible mistake.  Even when her father has a public and humiliating affair with a bewitching woman, Mary remains hopeful.  But when he abandons her mother, marries his mistress, and has a child with her, Mary begins to lose faith.  And now, dressed in rags, she is summoned back to the palace to be a serving maid to her new baby sister.

Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, is a servant in her own home.

Believe it or not, it’s all true.

Mary Tudor has a bad reputation—quite deservedly so—but in the end she is the product of her upbringing.  Her extremely devout Catholicism, her fall from her father’s favour and the people she grew up around made for a potent mix once she finally ascended the throne.  Mary, Bloody Mary tells the story of her childhood at hints at the Queen she would become.

Since Carolyn Meyer tells the story of Mary’s youth, before she started persecuting ‘heretics’, she is a very sympathetic character.  Readers will feel the agony of her fall, the ecstasy of her triumphs and the very real danger she was in during the rise of Anne Boleyn.  Since she also deals with issues teenage girls today do, her story is still relevant.  Her struggle to be accepted by her father and her longing for the mother she’s forbidden to contact is especially relevant to young adults.

Brought up in this kind of dysfunctional family environment changes Mary, but it also adds more tension to the plot.  That makes for a much more interesting, if not faster, plot.  Of course all of the historical details are much more important than a fast plot and Carolyn Meyer will teach young readers history in an enjoyable manner.

 I give this book 4/5 stars.

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