Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bloody Mary

Author: Carolly Erickson
Stars: 2
Review by: MandyApgar

Specializing in biographies of misunderstood women in history, Erickson handles this one like the others, but it comes out as probably the weakest work. The first half for the most part is rather well done despite being formulaic - pretty little Mary, the pearl of her father Henry VIII and learned mother Katherine of Aragon, is thrust aside in her father's quest for a legitimate male heir. She then lives the next 20 odd years of her life in suspicion and surrounded by danger, until she is able to seize the throne from her cousin Jane and is proclaimed queen only to die shortly therafter having become synonymous with religious persecution intensified by her inner struggles with a troubled marriage. Mary is indeed shown as sympathetically as possible - much attention is given to her motivations for the burnings and religious hysteria of the period, and no - it really is not all on her. (But not that much space is really given to all that, odd since it is her biggest legacy and the source of the title.) A woman who had 2 phantom pregnancies, Mary's prayer book still exists today with a page on devotions to safely carry and deliver a child tear stained to the point of near destruction. Her marriage to her dandified cousin Philip of Spain, who abandoned her. Things like that. However; there are several inaccuracies which I find very uncharacteristic of the author. Many untrue statements concern Mary's one time stepmother Anne of Cleves, and the ladies' close friendship is completely ignored. A few misquotes, and other problems, nothing too overly huge but mistakes none the same, and some of the statements detract from the flow of the book and serve a disservice to understanding Mary's evolution of character.

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