Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.
You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.
The premise of this book drew me in. Anyone who knows me knows that I would love to have seen a happier ending for Mary Tudor (Henry VIII's daughter, not his sister). In this novel, the author attempts to rewrite history with Mary becoming a young wife and mother but never queen. And that is when the problems started.
The idea that Catherine of Aragon and her daughter would each decide to forgo Mary's birthright in order to keep Henry content starts this story off on the wrong foot for me. After all, in reality, the were both willing to sacrifice almost anything to ensure that Mary's (and Catherine's) position was recognized. This is just the first of many implausible changes in historical events and people that occurs. I understand that this is an alternate history. That's why I picked it up, but to be enjoyable it still needs to make sense based on what we know of the real people and events.
I could have accepted the historical changes if the novel was at least entertaining, but it is written almost entirely in stilted dialogue. It is tricky to write dialogue that comes across as realistic but without the ordinary level of repetition. The dialogue in this book not only doesn't sound like what people would actually say ('That's a shame' when a close family member dies, for example), but the reader is forced to endure things being repeated for the benefit of different characters.
The whole thing just reads like a first draft. There's potential here. I LOVE the idea of Mary being married to Reginald Pole, whether she became queen or not, but this needs more editing and polishing to make it a great story.