MARY, BLOODY MARY by Carolyn Meyer


Age Range: 12 - 15
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Meyer (Gideon’s People, 1996, etc.) presents the youth of Mary Tudor, oldest daughter of Henry VIII, as a bitter tale of mistreatment, political machination, and battling wills. From the outset, Mary blames the witch, Anne Boleyn, for separating her and her mother, Catherine of Aragon, then depriving them of wealth and security; for persuading the king to declare Mary illegitimate; for forcing her at last into the role of scorned servant, charged with changing the infant Elizabeth’s nappies. Certain that she will one day be queen, Mary fights back in the only ways she can, by becoming an accomplished spy, holding in her anger, and refusing for years to sign the acknowledgement of her illegitimacy. Meyer gives Mary, Henry, and Anne strong, distinct personalities and motives, enlivens historical events with closely observed details of dress and ceremony, and drives it all forward with engrossing emotional intensity—climaxed by an eyewitness’s lingering account of Anne Boleyn’s beheading: “We heard the dreadful sound—there is none like it in all this world." It’s an absorbing story, compellingly told, and if Mary doesn’t come off as the religious fanatic she evidently was, her later brutality is not soft-pedaled in the appended historical note. Follow this up with Rosalind Miles’s equally powerful I, Elizabeth (1994). (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-15-201906-5
Page count: 220pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1999


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