In my opinion, there’s way too much negative HF written on Mary with the pendulum exaggeratedly high on both, the very revered, Elizabeth and her mother, Anne Boleyn. Mary, on the other hand, is too often scorned for being a religious zealot and uber- queen of massacre during her reign.
Unlike the favoured (almost) propaganda-like novels on Mary, Her Mother’s Daughter takes an historical stand in portraying the feel of the times in light of the Catholic and Protestant movements with a refreshingly endearing take on Mary. Julianne Lee portrays Mary through her journey’s destiny, beginning from her infancy to show us a clearer picture of who she really was.
Of course Mary’s intact belief system as a devout Catholic is an underlying factor in this read-but that is certainly not all that this splendid book is about. Almost like a biography, the author takes us through Mary’s life, from her earliest, and happiest memories of her father, right to the end of her reigning years. We get to see her interactions and reactions with all the members of her family and entourage. Her distinct hatred for her step-mother, Anne and her undying love for her father-that is never reciprocated-is very clear. She is stripped of her title, belittled, chastised, used for a means and forgotten. Yet, Mary, despite all this has an unimaginable inner strength and unshakeable faith. I admired her courage throughout and understood her stance in matters of state, love and faith.
Molded by circumstances and stripped of motherly and fatherly love (let alone complete rejection), Mary was a survivor. Even through her love for Phillip, her husband, there was great suffering for none that was reciprocated, compounded with an unfulfilled desire for children…not a crumb of happiness for this forever lonely soul- Ever. Is it any wonder that she found solace in her faith, the only thing that brought her any sense of peace and comfort?
In terms of the writing, Julianne Lee is brilliant. The book flows impeccably as it takes us through Mary’s history. I especially enjoyed the first person interjections of Mary speaking or recounting specific moments in her life. And, how creative that the book should begin with spooked children chanting her name in a mirror: Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary. It hooks you immediately.
I didn’t think I could say this, but Julianne Lee's novel, comes very close to what a modern-day Plaidy might have written. I can’t believe I said that (Arleigh! - Marie!)- but yes, I believe it is well merited.
Her Mother’s Daughter is historically accurate, flowing in flawless language and prose, intense, gripping and emotionally filled.
To anyone who would like to learn more about Mary Tudor, I highly recommend this exceptional book. You won’t regret it.
And I’ll say it again- It’s about time!
Thanks to Penguin Group USA for this review copy:)
To read Julianne Lee's excellent Guest Post, SEE HERE.