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Her Mother's Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor    by Julianne Lee order for
Her Mother's Daughter
by Julianne Lee
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

The story of Bloody Mary is truly a sad one. But author Julianne Lee knowledgably provides a nuanced portrait of this ultimately lonely queen. She brings us into 16th-century England, at a time when Henry VIII almost bankrupted the country with his wild living. We learn how this affects the commoners as well as the courtiers.

When Henry dies, instead of Mary (the daughter of Catherine of Aragon and rightful heir to the throne) ascending, it is Edward, a sickly nine-year-old, who reigns. Surrounded by a council that is supposed to guide him but in reality uses his power for their ends, Edward is never allowed to grow close to his sister. At this time, the conflict between Catholics and Protestants is intense. Mary, brought up by her devout mother, sees the destruction taking place in England and blames it on Protestant heretics. When, late in her life, she ascends the throne, her steadfast belief that heretics must be punished and burned so that England can return to its true faith only adds to the destruction.

Julianne Lee has set herself a difficult way of telling this story. In part we have Mary's own words, which ring very true. Then we have a third-person account of the various events taking place. The court scenes are very believable, but the commoners' stories are not fleshed out enough and spring into the narrative quite abruptly. The prologue seems a bit silly, but it serves to set up Mary's reflections on what happened after her reign and once more to demonstrate who she was. Despite these impediments, the book feels historically accurate, and I found it to be very enlightening.

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