Mary Tudor Princess – by Tony Riches – book review

While admittedly I am obsessed with all things Tudor, I still feel I can still distinguish between fabulous history fiction and those novels that are just so-so. This one falls under the so-so category. It’s NOT bad. It simply moves predictably through the relatively short life of Mary Tudor (1496-1533) without much emotion, depth, or creativity. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.

NOTE: This is NOT Mary Tudor (1516-1558), elder daughter of King Henry VIII, who becomes Queen Mary I of England, marries Phillip II of Spain, and is known in history as “Bloody Mary.”)

This Mary Tudor is younger daughter of Tudor dynasty founder, King Henry VII. As a child, she dutifully acquiesces to being a pawn in the political marriages arranged by the more powerful males in her family. All the while harboring a passion for Charles Brandon, close friend of Mary’s infamous brother, King Henry VIII. We eventually follow Mary’s entourage to France when she weds the much-older King Louis XII.

King Louis XII of France

And what follows is the more mundane “rest of her life.” Some financial problems, a few children (Mary was grandmother to the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey), a marriage with ups and downs, and late in the book, an outsider’s perspective on King Henry VIII’s Great Matter — his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn. A few months later, Mary is widowed and makes her big power play: she weds Brandon without first getting her brother’s permission.

And what follows is the more mundane “rest of her life.” Some financial problems, a few children (Mary was grandmother to the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey), a marriage with ups and downs, and late in the book, an outsider’s perspective on King Henry VIII’s Great Matter — his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn.

One of the things I like best about reading historical fiction is when an author is able to imagine and realistically speculate what might have been going on inside the mind of an historical figure — applying all we know about human nature so that the characters feel real. But there wasn’t much of that in this book. Instead, the author relied too much on factual research, incorporating a lot of detail about events. Too much for my taste.

To me this was a missed opportunity. Because there’s a lot of drama to work with in Mary’s story:
• What was it like to be the youngest surviving child in the first Tudor family?
• How did it feel to be a political pawn in the European marriage game?
• Was it difficult to become the wife of a country squire after living as a Princess of England and Queen of France?
You’ll find no answers in this novel. But, if you, like me, can never seem to get enough of the Tudors, you may enjoy this read anyway.

Author Tony Riches (Photo Courtesy of His Website)

This is the first book in a 3-novel series by Tony Riches. Tudor die-hard that I am, I WILL now move onto the second installment, Brandon Tudor Knight.

More about UK author Tony Riches.