I recently bought Lady Mary for my daughter and we have both been so impressed with the story that I thought I should write a bit about it.
Let me start by saying that when I first thought about getting her the book I was a bit nervous because it deals with Princess Mary growing up and going through the years when her father decides to divorce his first wife, has an affair with his second wife, marries her then has her beheaded. I was a bit apprehensive that there might be sections with a bit too much detail regarding Henry’s bedroom antics. But after pondering about it for a few weeks I bought her the book and then read it cover to cover myself. I LOVED the book. LOVED it. And no there are no bedroom antics. They do talk about the fact that the King has mistresses twice in the book and the Queen in one instance tells Princess Mary that the King is allowed a mistress whenever the Queen is pregnant “for his health” but that is the level that it is discussed at. No explicit details.
Both my daughter and I have found this a thought-provoking story about Mary’s childhood and it has prompted many discussions about what it must have felt like being Mary, one day a princess whose father seemed to adore her and then suddenly banished from her parents, her title removed and really imprisoned and treated very badly. The demands that she must recognise her younger sister as a princess, a new imposter (in her eyes) as Queen, a new religion, the treatment – all of that makes you think about the impact that it must have had on her. You really do warm to her and I admit I stopped thinking of her as Bloody Mary and started thinking about how all these actions must have affected her so deeply. There is no denying that Queen Mary was not a moderate like her sister and caused a number of deaths but I do think it is good to put her in context, to consider what it must have been like growing up the way she did, how her father’s actions must have deeply affected her. I think when we look at Historical figures it is good to consider the background, the context and for me this book has really helped my daughter do that. Before she read this story she was fascinated by the Tudors but very much biased towards Elizabeth I, she still adores Elizabeth I but this story has made her think more deeply about Mary.
This story has without a doubt raised a lot of questions in our household – questions about how someone’s childhood can shape them and how if Mary had been treated better, would that have impacted her as Queen and possibly made her more moderate?
I like this book for that reason it gives a backstory to Mary and it makes the reader think about her in a new way.
But there is more tucked away in this story. The story gives you an understanding of Tudor life and Tudor court. We found some of the references to the food interesting and how a bit of protein made such a big difference to Mary’s health. Also Court life, the politics involved and how you had to be so careful about everything that you said and the way in which you phrased your sentences.
We think this is a stunning book for Tweens / Teens to read while they are learning about the Tudors.
I have a strong suspicion that this is going to be one of those stories that my daughter reads a few times.
Admin bit – I bought this book for my daughter. I did email the publisher to double check recommended age and they told me 13 and over. My daughter has just turned 11 and we found this book the perfect fit for her, but she is a bit of a bookworm and is slightly History obsessed.
I also spotted another Lucy Worsley book at our local library which we immediately borrowed – My name is Victoria. And I have read it and found it an interesting fictional take on Victoria but my daughter has not yet had a chance to read it.