Title: Her Mother’s Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor
Author: Julianne Lee
Release Date: December 1, 2009
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Though history has judged Mary Tudor to be an unforgiving and cruel queen, there is more to her story than meets the eye. In this book, Mary tries to redeem herself and her legacy by telling her own story, rather than leaving it up to others’ interpretations.
Though I have been suffering from what Jen over at Devourer of Books calls “Tudor fatigue,” I was still interested in Her Mother’s Daughter. I’ve stayed away from historical fiction involving the Tudors for some time, so my appetite for them has returned a bit. Plus, I recently read and loved a non-fiction book about Mary Tudor – The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter – so I was really curious about this fiction book.
Lee chose to frame Her Mother’s Daughter through the lens of girls at a slumber party, discussing the myth of Bloody Mary – saying “Bloody Mary” three times while looking in the mirror will force her to appear. In the end, after the girls have gone to bed, she does appear and wants to clarify her story and tell it in her own words. While this was a unique tool to frame the narrative, it was unnecessary. It was also a bit distracting, as it is never revisited as the book progresses.
Reading Mary’s story from her own point of view, as well as those close to her, was very interesting. There was a lot of weight given to her life as a young woman and the pain she feels when her father rejects her. Lee really manages to put a human face on this vulnerable and frightened girl who is locked in a battle with the most powerful man in the country. While the book does cover Mary’s whole life, Lee skips sections of it with just a few paragraphs. This is probably to keep the length of the book accessible and keep the narrative from being bogged down. However, as a result, it’s helpful to have some background on Mary’s life before picking up Her Mother’s Daughter, as Lee doesn’t hold the reader’s hand when it comes to the history of the period.
Mary isn’t portrayed as a misunderstood saint in Her Mother’s Daughter, which I appreciated. She made some real mistakes through her reign, and there is no justification for her cruelty. However, Lee tries to put a human face on the woman, helping the reader to see why she took some of the extreme steps she did. It’s an interesting book that’s easy to read, and I definitely recommend it for fans of historical fiction.