Saturday, July 23, 2011

REVIEW: The Tudor Throne by Brandy Purdy + Giveaway

 Mary Tudor was once the beloved daughter of Katherine of Aragon and the great King Henry VIII.  Declared a bastard when Henry cast her mother aside in favor of Anne Boleyn, Mary tries to adjust to her new life in the country with only her faith to comfort her.  The former Princess is now forced to play nursemaid to her half sister Elizabeth.  Even though Elizabeth now occupies the position Mary once had, a strong sisterly bond develops between the two.  When the relationship between Anne Boleyn and Henry turns sour, Elizabeth is declared a bastard as well and when Great Harry breathes his last, the kingdom is left in the hands of his spoiled boy child son Edward and his ambitious counselors.  The sisters grow up apart as Mary continues to seek solace in her religion and Elizabeth comes of age in the household of her former stepmother Katherine Parr.  As Mary finally gains the throne the devotion between the sisters turns into rivalry as jealousy and religious convictions tear them apart.

 Told in first person alternating chapters, The Tudor Throne delves into the complex relationship between these sisters-the ardently Catholic Mary and the Protestant Princess of the people, Elizabeth. My first concern with reading anything Tudor is whether it bring anything new to the table because there are so many books out there about this time period, I don't want to read the same old story again.  This one is different because it focuses less on the what-the detailing the history of the time, and focuses more on the why-the thoughts and feelings of these two women that motivated their actions and decisions. 

I felt sympathy for Mary who was abandoned at multiple times in her life.  She longed so much for love that she was willing to sacrifice her pride, the love of her country, and degrade herself for the cold callous Phillip just to get it.  It is hard to feel for someone who burned several hundred people at the stake in the name of religion but Purdy does such a good job of painting her as a good but REALLY misguided woman that I found myself thinking "poor Mary" at several times throughout the book. Elizabeth's story was equally interesting, especially in regards to her relationship with Thomas Seymour.  This novel goes in an unexpected direction with exactly how involved her relationship with him was. I thought it was an intriguing avenue to explore. The Elizabeth here is highly intelligent but also conflicted in her early years about whether to let her heart govern or her mind.

It is clear that these two women cared deeply for each other and quite sad that religion, politics, jealousy and paranoia set them at odds.  I would consider this novel part of the guilty pleasure category as I found myself drawing comparisons to The Tudors on Showtime-a bit racier version of the story than I am used to but a good one nonetheless.  The only thing that irked me just a bit was the repetition of certain phrases.  Anne Boleyn is referred to as "the great whore" several times and there is a little ditty in there that Tom Seymour sings that was repeated often enough for it to get stuck in my head for a few days after finishing the book.  Other than that little gripe I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

For those in the UK who would like to check out this book, it was published as Mary & Elizabeth by Emily Purdy.  I have decided to add this to the books I am offering in my Summer of ARCs and Galleys giveaway.  This is not an ARC or Galley but a finished copy of the book and it is signed by the author.  If you would like to win this or one of the other 3 books currently up for grabs please enter HERE.  I am selecting the winner for July on 1 August.

This book was provided to me for review by the author.  These are my honest thoughts on the book.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! Elizabeth is my favorite, but I really sympathized with Mary in this one as well. I found myself wishing circumstances for her had turned out differently and then jolted myself when I remembered that if they did, we would not have had Elizabeth the way we did.