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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review - Jean Plaidy's IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROWN

This was from the beginning a sad book. From being the only very loved child of Henry VIII and Katharine, she went in turns to being declared illegitimate, brought back and forth into the spotlight when it suited her father and knew always that Elizabeth was going to outshine her.

I read Queen of the Realm just a while ago and I am glad I did because it gave me a sight into the same events described in this book from the point of view of the Princess Elizabeth. This book delved into the same period from the point of view of Mary Tudor. So similar and yet so different.

Throughout the book Mary Tudor although wanting to be Queen, wanted more than anything else to bring back the Roman Catholic religion to the country. She however did not want the blood of those who did not believe in the faith on her hands - and despite constant entreaties to her to be more cautious of Elizabeth, she wanted to believe that Elizabeth loved her as a sister and only wanted what was good for her. She refused to believe that Elizabeth was scheming and out for the main chance - to get the throne for herself. Mary Tudor just wanted the love of her husband (which she did not get) and a child (this was an overwhelming need and one which was very cruelly not fulfilled). The latter was specially harsh because she went through the symptoms of a pregnancy which was later declared a phantom one.

With the death of Edward, Mary was declared Queen and her reign marked by so much bloodshed got her the ambiguous title of Bloody Mary. Guided by advisors who were only interested in furthering their own ends, Mary was too weak to stand up for herself unlike Elizabeth who knew exactly what to do.

Deprived of her mother whom she did not see again, deprived of a father's love and concern and finally not even getting the affection she wanted from her husband, Mary Tudor's life was a sad, hollow one. The machinations of court, the fear that you never knew when you were going to be "in" or "out" added to the sadness in her life.

I was glad I read it mainly to get the Tudor period from another aspect. With so much emphasis on Elizabeth, this was a different read.


  1. From the beginning? ohhhh. I dunno if I'll read it. But I did enjoy the review anyway.


  2. I read a really interesting book in Spanish about her mother, Katherine of Aragon (Catalina de Inglaterra in Spanish), told in letters to Mary. It was also very sad, but very interesting. Thanks for your review!

  3. This sounds interesting, maybe she didn't deserve the 'Bloody Mary' tag she gets from historians?

  4. I really love reading historical fiction with differing perspectives of the same events (as in your Queen of the Realm vs. In the Shadow of the Crown). Jean Plaidy's novels are very popular, and it appears that it's for a great reason

  5. I love all of Jean Plaidy's books! I started reading this one a few years ago, but wound up losing the book about half way through. I do wish I had finished reading it, and hadn't lost it, but don't really see myself going out to buy another copy.