Her Mother's Daughter
Berkley, Dec 2009, $15.00
The seventh grade girls and one younger sister Karen were playing “Bloody Mary” when Queen Mary Tudor arrived to tell the truth to the lone fifth grader who called out to her. She explains the reality behind her notorious legend. Her father King Henry VIII adored her until she turned eleven when he tossed her and her mother Katherine of Aragon aside for Anne Boleyn. She returns to the court as a servant to her half sister Princess Elizabeth. Acrimonious and angry due to her father’s rejection and her inability to see her mother, Mary finds some joy eventually in her marriage to Philip of Spain, but that is not enough as he was more away than with her. When she became Queen, she pushed to end the heresy of her father by returning the country to the Catholic Church leading to the deaths of many.
This is a terrific “autobiographical” fiction as Mary reminds readers history is written by the surviving victors, which in this case is her half-sister Elizabeth. Readers will enjoy this fine version although using a fifth grader as her listener seems like an unnecessary gimmick even based on the mythos that Bloody Mary kidnaps little children, as the strength of the novel is in Mary’s explanations and rationalizations for her actions built predominantly on her deep religious belief that Catholicism was the pure version of Christianity. This is a winning portrait.