Monday, 3 March 2014

Book Review: The Queen's Sorrow by Suzannah Dunn

Plain and dutiful and a passionate Catholic, Mary Tudor is overjoyed when she becomes Queen of England. After the misery of her childhood, when her father, Henry VIII, rejected her and her mother, Mary feels at last that she is achieving her destiny. And when she marries Philip of Spain, her happiness is complete.

But Mary's delight quickly turns sour as she realizes that her husband does not love her--indeed, that he finds her devotion irritating. Desperate for a baby, she begins to believe that God is punishing her. Her people are horrified at the severity of the measures she takes and begin to to turn against their queen, who is lonely, frightened, and desperate for love.

Rafael, a member of Philip of Spain's entourage, reluctantly witnesses the tragedy that unfolds as the once-feted queen tightens her cruel hold on the nation. As Rafael becomes closer to Mary, his life--and newfound love--are caught up in the terrible chaos.

My Review:
The first thing you need to do is totally ignore the blurb for this book which indicates that this is a story about the unhappy marriage of Queen Mary and Philip of Spain. The title and cover of the book all add to this illusion. So, ignore all that and read the rest of this review to find out what the book is really about!

OK, are you ready then? The title really should be 'The whinging spaniard' or maybe 'The boring life of Rafael'. This book is about an imagined member of Philip's entourage who doesn't want to be in England. So we get him moaning about the weather, the city, the people, the colour of the grass being the wrong kind of green(I'm serious), his accomodation, the time dinner is eaten, and on and on. And he constantly goes on about how much better Spain is at everything(including grass colour and rain quality) and how he should be home with his family instead. Well every courtier in every country in Tudor times is expected to make sacrificies for the honour and prestige of serving royalty so his endless moaning got on my nerves from page one. IF you don't like your job, matey, quit and go home! Then maybe we could have read about Mary instead.

The plot was extremely poor. It was just the tales of Rafael and his adventures in London, none of which I found in the least bit interesting. From what I read he hardly seemed to have contact with the Queen so I really felt cheated by this book. I bought it believing that is was all about Mary as seen through a close courtier's eyes, as you get in a lot of Tudor books but it couldn't be further from that once you start reading. I was so disappointed by the story, the writing, the characters and the standard of the book. When you add that to feeling cheated over what I expected it to be, it will come as no surprise to anyone that I got fed up and did not finish the book.

So there is no option but to give it one star. I look with dread to the fact that my bookshelf has 3 other books by this author which I am not that keen to pick up now but intend to get through this week. If you want good Tudor writing, I suggest you try authors like Jean Plaidy, Philippa Gregory, Diane Haeger and Emily Purdy.
star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

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