Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

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Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lively and interesting telling of the childhood of Mary Tudor and her treatment by her father Henry VIII during his divorce from her mother and his marriages to Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. Mary's had a hard time in the popular consciousness and this story humanises her trials and tribulations very well.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: April 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1408869444

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Lady Mary chronicles the famous story of Henry VIII's love affair with Anne Boleyn, his divorce from Katherine of Aragon, Anne's execution for adultery, and Henry's subsequent marriage to Jane Seymour, which finally produces the much longed for birth of a male heir. This time, the story is told through the eyes of an important but often neglected player - Henry's young daughter, Mary. Mary's hopes of her family staying together are crushed by the divorce and she is treated terribly by a father under the influence of the Boleyn faction. Lady Mary follows her through these awful years and you can't help but root for the little girl stuck in the middle of these tumultuous events.

You have to feel sorry for Mary Tudor really. In a time of vicious religious extremism and sectarianism, nobody comes out well. Henry VIII burned many, many heretics. Elizabeth I burned heretics. Edward VI burned heretics. But only Mary Tudor is known for it by the Bloody Mary monicker. It seems unfair. This was a seismic period during which people genuinely believed that their very souls depended on crushing opposing beliefs. It looks dreadful to modern eyes and, of course, it is dreadful. But Mary wasn't an anomaly. She was the norm. Worsley's book does a good job of humanising her. She had a tumultuous childhood - feted as the most eligible princess in Europe until her father's divorce from her mother; neglected and abused during the ascendance of Anne Boleyn; rehabilitated somewhat by Jane Seymour's peace-making - and Worsley manages to pack all this in without losing sight of the young girl at the centre of it.

In this story, Mary comes across as slightly spoiled but also courageous and dogged. She remembers all the royal lessons taught to her by Katherine of Aragon and never loses sight of her birthright. But it's hard and there are times when she wobbles - especially when Thomas Cromwell sends a handsome young man to tempt her into confidences. Mary is also acutely aware of her gender - princess she might be, but women held little power in Tudor society and so Mary must learn that stoicism is often the best way to protest.

Lady Mary is dramatic and full of high tension and great events and important politics. But it's also the story of a young girl with thoughts and feelings and a strong and loving personality she's not always free to express. And, of course, the little pieces of historical detail - the clothes, the food, the social hierarchy - are all as illuminating and accurate as you'd expect from Lucy Worsley.

Recommended to all fans of historical fiction.

If Lady Mary sounds up your alley, remember that Lucy Worsley has also written about Henry VIII's fifth wife, Katherine Seymour, in Eliza Rose. You might also enjoy Spy for the Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin, which presents, for once, a positive interpretation of Mary, Queen of Scots.

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Buy Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley at


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