Secrets of the Tudor Court

Secrets of the Tudor Court - D.L. Bogdan I really wish they let us give half-star ratings, because I would give this three and a half if I could. I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, it does a pretty good job of telling the story of Mary Howard, a relatively minor figure in the Tudor court, but one who was connected to the powerful Howard family and a witness to many of the important events that happened there. Not (thankfully) having been in an abusive relationship myself, I don't know how accurate the dynamics of her relationship with her father are (and incidentally, there is some historical justification for the portrayal of him), but it seems that there might be some basis for the incredible conflict she feels, between wanting to admire and love him and the reality of his behavior. Some reviewers have said that she doesn't stand up to him, but she does, more than once, even though it doesn't do her much good, but that's the reality of life in that place and time period.

Mary's character, another thing that others have objected to, is a little too good, but not unrealistically so, IMO. A lot of it has to do with her insecurities, but she does grow and change to some extent, and even finds some happiness. It seems a little silly to me for people to criticize the book because there is so much loss and unhappiness in her life, unless the reviewers want the author to play fast and loose with history.

Some of the things I had problems with, however, were actually what were relatively minor historical errors. She says, for example, that Mary's cousin George Boleyn was hanged, when in fact he was beheaded, as I think all the men accused with Anne were, except for the "lowborn" Mark Smeaton. She also repeats the well-worn (and almost certainly false) portrayal of Katherine Parr dressing her husband's festering leg abscesses, which only appears (without sourcing or attribution) in Agnes Strickland's history in the nineteenth century. She also has some quite jarringly modern language (like achieving "closure" or the word "goner" as in "He's a goner"). I know it's pretty much a sine qua non, but I found the insertion of a fictional romance for Mary, however fleeting, a little annoying. Finally, as another reviewer mentioned, I had trouble gauging Mary's age; her narration is virtually the same throughout, even though she goes from about twelve or thirteen to her mid-thirties, and if she is going to be telling her story in present tense (something I personally find very irritating), an author should at least make some attempt to match the language to the age of her character.