Friday, July 29, 2011

THE TUDOR THRONE by Brandy Purdy: Review


In the wake of King Henry VIII's death, England's throne is left in a precarious state - as is the peculiar relationship between his two daughters. Mary, the elder, once treasured, had been declared a bastard in favour of her flame-haired half-sister, Elizabeth, born of the doomed Anne Boleyn. Yet the bond between the sisters was palpable from the start. Now reinstated, Mary eventually assumes her place as queen. But as Mary's religious zeal evolves into a reign of terror, young Elizabeth gains the people's favour. Gripped by a tormenting paranoia, Mary is soon convinced that her beloved Elizabeth is in fact her worst enemy. And the virginal Elizabeth, whose true love is her country, must defy her tyrannical sister to make way for a new era...

My Review:

[I received this novel from the author as a review copy.]

Over the past several years I have read many books dealing with the Tudors. Most of them have dealt with Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth Tudor, and a few have been about Henry VIII’s other five wives, his sisters, and his daughter Mary. THE TUDOR THRONE, however, is the first Tudor novel that I have read that gives both Mary and Elizabeth Tudor’s points of view together following their father’s death. All of the books that I have read about Elizabeth have mentioned Mary or even had Mary play a large part in the book, or included Elizabeth in a book about Mary, but never have I read a book that placed equal importance on both Mary and Elizabeth's points of view. The novel was written as a first person account of both of their lives, so the chapters alternate between Mary’s point of view and Elizabeth’s. Although I have read their stories a hundred times, from a hundred different books, it was still a terrific novel that held my interest until the end. 

Switching back and forth between the sister’s perspectives enables the reader to really get to know both Mary and Elizabeth. Their fears and insecurities come to light in a way that only a first person narrative can provide. Both women were deeply affected by their father’s treatment of their mothers, and of women in general. Any future relationships with the opposite sex are indirectly tainted by their father’s treatment of women. Both Mary and Elizabeth are frightened of and desperate for love. Mary is desperate to find the love she lost from her father for so many years when she was young. She easily succumbs to Philip of Spain’s half-hearted courtship of her, and although she is the Queen of England, she allows him to rule her, as well as her country. After taking care of herself, guarding her emotions, and having no one to lean on for so long she is more than willing to put her life and love into Philip's hands, though he is no way worth it. 

Elizabeth turns out much differently when it comes to love and trust. Rather than throw everything away for love and companionship as her sister did, she puts up a wall around her that is impossible to penetrate. She refuses to end up like her mother, or any of the other women that her father loved passionately, only to discard when bored, angry, or seeking an heir. Elizabeth, unlike Mary, refuses to rely on anyone, especially a man. She wants to be her own woman, and to make decisions for herself and for her country. Years of sadness and loneliness had weakened Mary’s resolve, while it had strengthened Elizabeth’s. While both women were talented and extremely intelligent, it will forever be Elizabeth who stands out in people’s minds, because of the idea of womanly strength and power that she stood for.

I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys Tudor history. While Ms. Purdy did take creative license when it came to several parts of the book, it was still a well researched Tudor novel. I was impressed by what a quick and easy read it was. There was never a dull moment, and I was able to transport myself to Mary and Elizabeth’s Tudor England every time I opened the book. The fact that it was written in first person, from both women’s perspectives, (both before and after becoming Queen of England) added to the enjoyment and excitement of this fascinating novel of historical fiction.

I without a doubt give this book five out of five stars!

This novel is also published in the UK, but it is under the title, MARY & ELIZABETH by EMILY PURDY. It was published in the US on July 28th.



  1. Great review! I'm going to definitely check this one out!

  2. What a wonderful review! I really like your comments about the alternating points-of-view and how affected both women were when it came to Henry's treatment of women.

  3. Congratulations on winning a copy of The Storm at the Door at Colloquium! Please see the email I sent you last night and respond within 48 hours.


  4. Hi! I just love your new look--at first I was confused as to where I was :) very fitting for your great historical reviews. :) Rae

  5. I want to read this book! I will have to add it to my list.
    I love reading about the Tudors. Oh and I am a teacher too! (and a new follower - awesome blog!)