Title: Lady Mary
Author: Lucy Worsley
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2018
As a fan of historical fiction and young adult fiction, I was really excited to read this book, especially since the subject was a rather controversial figure in British royal history. Lady Mary is also known as “Bloody Mary,” due to her five-year stint as monarch, which was marred by the executions of over 300 men and women for religious reasons. She’s not the most popular person in history, let’s just say that. However, this book was disappointing on every front. I even made a rant review video of it on my new BookTube channel, because this book just enraged me on so many levels.
Lady Mary tells the story of the titular character, who was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his first wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon. It follows her through her childhood, her parents’ scandalous divorce and her father’s subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, and well into her adulthood. It mentions her time in exile and the hardships she endured throughout her young life.
- Writing: The writing itself in this book wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t all that good either. It was simple and easy to read, but it was rife with inconsistencies and contradictions. At times, it didn’t fit in with the language associated with this time period (16th Century England) and really distracted me from my reading experience.
- Plot: There was no plot to speak of, really. Nothing happens in the book and Mary’s experiences are limited to her exile and whining about everything that is going on around her. However, 90% of the time, she doesn’t even know what’s happening. This frustrated me as a reader, because I was aware of her story (historically speaking) and I knew that she did, in fact, do many things throughout her life and eventually managed to take back her royal position and become queen. Now, her actions as queen were horrendous, but nonetheless, the lack of plot or action of any sort really made her seem like a useless imbecile, who couldn’t be bothered to do or say anything.
- Characterization: Granted, this time period was one of great inequality between men and women, wherein women were treated like cattle and had little to no rights. The fact that this book was written about a female historical figure, who was surrounded by other famous females, made me assume that it would be somewhat empowering. However, that was not the case. All the women in this book were portrayed as frivolous, crazy, stupid, or useless, and there were many derogatory references to women throughout the novel. It was almost like a medieval version of slut-shaming, especially when it came to Anne Boleyn (who was also a victim of family oppression) and Henry’s other wives. This was one of the biggest flaws for me, personally.
- Lack of a fictional aspect: I don’t know about you, but when I read the word “fiction,” I expect some sort of fictional aspect to be included in a book. The only fictional thing about this book was the fact that it was a fictionalized account of Lady Mary’s life, and it wasn’t even done well.
- Mary’s relationship with her father: Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but based on my previous readings and research, Mary did not have some sort of Electra Complex with regards to her father. Yet, in this book, somehow, she does. And it borders on incestuous and unhinged. Despite everything her father put her through (exile, torture, starvation, separation from her family, etc.), the author makes it seem like Mary is practically in love with him. This was truly jarring for me and made me hate almost all of the characters with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. It turned Mary from a potentially interesting character into a whiny, spoiled, ignorant, and delusional brat. This was compounded by the fact that King Henry VIII was infamous for his maltreatment and execution of most of his wives. There were six of them, two of whom were beheaded on accounts of “adultery” or “treason,”, but the real reason was their “inability” to produce a male heir. Spare me.
I liked the cover.
I felt as though I had wasted my time reading this book, as it didn’t teach me anything new about Lady Mary, other than the suggestion that she was a witless fool. Ultimately, I felt as if this book was pointless. So, in light of all of these issues, I am giving this book 1 star. I almost wish that I didn’t have to rate it, because, in all honesty, I would give it zero stars. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone, and I did not enjoy it at all. Sorry for the rant, but this book was awful, in my personal opinion. I rant even more in my video :’D
*I was given an eARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.*