I have loved historical fiction since I was little girl( Does anyone remember the Dear America books?). I love reading of times long ago, places far away. Dreamy men and ladies who are tougher than they appear. And no one does all that better than the Brits. You could definitely call me a anglophile, a person who loves British culture. I actually took more British history and literature classes in college than I did American ones. My obsession of British culture is slightly odd, seeing as I have never set foot in the UK. But thanks to my late nights spent on google maps, I feel fairly confidant in my ability to navigate the mean London streets should I ever get the chance to cross the pond.
My favorite time period of British history is by the far the Tudor era. Talk about drama! Romances, war, affairs, revolution, reform, plots and coupes. The Tudors knew how to create a legacy. Phillipa Gregory, who wrote ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ is one of my favorite authors. She is an historian turned novelist who writes with extraordinary detail. I have said this before, but seriously read her ‘Cousins’ War’ Series. It’s about the ruling family before the Tudors and sets the stage for everything else.
Her Mother’s Daughter by the Julianne Lee is the first novel I’ve read about Queen Mary of England. Queen Mary is the daughter of Queen Katherine of Argon and King Henry VIII. Most people know Queen Mary as Bloody Mary, you know the one from your childhood sleepovers. I was never brave enough to whisper her name in the mirror. She has gotten a bad reputation throughout the years and so I was curious to read about her. Her mother was a beloved Queen, known for her capability as a ruler and her father known for creating a dark time in history. (Henry should of stayed married to Kathrine and saved himself a lot of heartache!)
Queen Mary got her nickname, Bloody Mary for the thousands of deaths and burnings she ordered throughout her reign. It was common practice for heretics, or Protestants to be burned for not conforming to the the true faith, Catholicism. She saw it as her god given duty to cleanse England from the sin the Protestants brought.
Julianne Lee’s depiction of Mary made me feel sorry for her. Lee painted her as a shy, unsure, lonely girl who was ripped away from her mother, despised by her father, not respected by her kingdom. She spent much of her life not recognized as a princess and declared illegitimate. She didn’t have friends, she didn’t have children, her husband proved to be untrue. Maybe if I was that unhappy, I would burn people at the stake, as well? The Mary in this novel was very much like modern women. She didn’t think she was pretty, she doubted herself. Her greatest wish was to have a family, but she also wanted her career. She felt inadequate on so many levels. It shows that even with hundreds of years between us, life isn’t so very different. Women are still seen as shrews or “ball-busters” for wanting to be leader, they are still considered to be whores for expressing their sexuality. Women have come so far, and yet we are still fighting the same battles in 2014 as Queen Mary Tudor of England fought in 1553.