Secrets of the Tudor Court
This is another Tudor novel, this time seen from the perspective of Mary Howard, cousin and lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, and (briefly) wife of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son. There aren’t many “secrets” here, though; for those familiar with these familiar characters and events, there will be no surprises. Those looking for an introduction to the politics and pageantry of Tudor England will probably be confused at the cast of characters and events that skim along, textbook-style, without much real development. The research seems lacking, as some of the basics of Mary’s life are garbled, glossed over, or strangely absent. An attempt to create a great love story between Mary and “Harry,” the bastard Duke of Richmond, never really flowers. The narrative is in the familiar first-person present-tense, with Mary alternating between unlikely self-awareness and straightforward recounting of emotions. Given the scope of the book (Mary lives long enough to encounter each of Henry’s subsequent wives, the rise and fall of Lady Jane Grey, and Mary Tudor’s reign), it would have been nice to see the main character explore something just below the surface, either via internal or external action, but she never quite gets there.