29 January 2018

Book review ~ The King's Pearl: Henry VIII and His Daughter Mary, by by Melita Thomas

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

I remember being taught at school about how Henry VIII's daughter Mary became known as 'Bloody Mary' after having hundreds of dissenters executed and burned at the stake. Since then I've realised her life - and relationship with her father - was far more complex.

In a new reappraisal of Mary Tudor's life, Melita Thomas has taken a thorough and well-researched approach. It is refreshing to know Melita can read Italian and French, so was able to refer to the original accounts of chroniclers of the time, rather than the many translations. 

The result is a a sensitive picture of a young girl growing old before her time in challenging circumstances. One aspect I'd not given much thought to before was her submission to her father and how Mary faced the impossible dilemma of risking her immortal soul by acknowledging her father as the supreme head of the church or risking her life defending her mother's faith.

The book ends with the death of Henry VIII, and although there is a short epilogue, I still fund many questions unanswered. I hope Melita Thomas will therefore write a companion volume which covers Mary's rise to power and later life, as there is so much 'misinformation' written by later protestant chroniclers. 

Last year I stood at the shared tomb of Queens Elizabeth and Mary in Westminster Abbey, listening to their imagined voices on the audio guide. It made me want to learn more about Mary Tudor, so The King's Pearl is a book I'm sure I will refer back to - highly recommended.

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Melita Thomas is the co-founder and editor of Tudor Times, a repository of information about Britain in the period 1485-1625 www.tudortimes.co.uk. Melita has loved history since being mesmerised by the BBC productions of ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and ‘Elizabeth R’, when she was a little girl. After that, she read everything she could get her hands on about this most fascinating of dynasties. Captivated by the story of the Lady Mary galloping to Framingham to set up her standard and fight for her rights, Melita began her first book about the queen when she was 9. The manuscript is probably still in the attic! Whilst still pursuing a career in business, Melita took a course on writing biography, which led her and her business partner to the idea for Tudor Times, and gave her the inspiration to begin writing about Mary again. ‘The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and his daughter Mary’ is her first book. She has several ideas for a second project, and hopes to settle on one and begin writing by the end of the year. In her spare time, Melita enjoys long distance walking. She is attempting to walk around the whole coast of Britain. You can follow her progress here. https://mgctblog.com/ and find her on Facebook and Twitter @thetudortimes.

Disclosure: A review copy of The King's Pearl was kindly provided by Amberley Publishing 

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