Review: Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 1408869446
ISBN 13: 9781408869444
Published: April 2018
Pages: 384
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

Lady Mary follows the life of Mary Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VIII, starting from her engagement and the downfall of her mother (and hence, the introduction of Anne Boleyn). As a young adult book it simplifies things a little, and perhaps some sections would even be suitable for advanced middle grade readers if there is interest there, but overall it is an engaging piece.

At Princess Mary’s engagement to the french Duke, it is noted that there’s the possibility that her parents aren’t in a blessed marriage… using the evidence that as they haven’t had a son (as in, a ‘real heir’), then clearly God doesn’t think they should be together. Soon after this her father aquits his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and marries Anne Boleyn instead. From here, everything gets far worse for Mary than she could have ever imagined – she is removed from Court, forced to be a servant to her new sister Elizabeth, imprisoned… yikes.

One of the strengths is getting to see them as a family unit at the beginning. Mary is about 11 or so, and her father pulls funny faces and ruffles her hair to make her smile. You really get a sense of place with the descriptions of the places they live, the reasons they have to keep moving around (basically they eat the food the small village has to offer and then they move on so they can continue to live their lavish lifestyle), and just how many servants they consider necessary.

Overall, I enjoyed this, however not as much as Worsley’s previous historical fiction books. In previous books where her main character may have seemed childish or whingy it could easily be put down to the character really being thought of, or accounted to be, exactly like that in history. In this, though… Mary seemed a little unaccountable.

Parts of this are a little slow, but it is quite a task when sharing the life of someone who is waiting in exile for a significant part of the book. I think for that it does really quite well.

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