The Queen’s Sorrow
Harper, Dec 2008, $13.95
Queen Mary feels euphoric that she has become the monarch and thanking God plans to reverse the trend away from Catholicism to Protestantism by her subjects. Being half Spanish as her mom was the ill fated Catherine of Aragon, she feels even more ecstatic when her potential rival King Philip of Spain, a devout Catholic, marries her.
Philip sends one of his retainers Rafael to his wife Mary Tudor to build her a special sundial. However, the Spaniard has a difficult time adjusting to the damp climate and worse the mistreatment by the nobles who loathe and perhaps fear Catholic Europe. His project is delayed by the weather and the lack of funding, which adds to his sorrow as he misses his family who stayed in balmy Spain. He is attracted to Cecily the housekeeper and soon they become best friends before falling in love even though the confused foreigner still misses his devoted spouse.
In spite of the title, for much of the story line Mary plays a secondary role as Rafael and Cecily play the lead characters; the climax abruptly but exhilaratingly twists the prime role so Mary’s sorrow becomes known. Through the actions of the cast, the story line digs deep as to what motivates the Queen who never forgot her daddy’s rejection of her and her mother; his first wife. Rafael’s constant lament even when he is with caring Cecily feels overwrought as how many times and ways can a protagonist tell his audience he misses his home and family before he becomes redundant.. Still this is an interesting Tudor historical that uses a forbidden romance to provide an indirect look at Queen Mary’s sorrows.