Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter
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MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
Again, I’m grateful to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for introducing to something new to me: I had never heard about Anne Clinard Barnhill, and I’m not sure I had ever read a historical novel that much centered on Elizabeth I before. I had no idea about Mary Shelton and her connection to the Queen.
Actually the author is herself related to Mary Shelton, as her bloodline comes from from Mary’s older brother. How cool is that!
This is basically the story of Mary Shelton, the queen’s second cousin, whose parents died when she was very young, and so who was raised by the Queen herself. When Mary was of age, the Queen intended for her the best future possible, with some rich European noble possibly, but Mary had some other more humble and more romantic plans. Did she have to obey? Did she rebel? What happened to her and the one she truly loved?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, where all the major English political figures of the time are present, including one that keeps intriguing me since I met him in the Giordano Bruno’s series: John Dee.
I discovered a lot here about Elizabeth’s horrible character, with insane fits of anger:
Mary mulled these thoughts over, wondering if she would ever understand the woman who sat next to her. The queen seemed the most loving, considerate, and wise ruler a people could ever hope to have. Yet, she could change into a selfish, cruel mistress if the mood took her.
And I didn’t know much either about Elizabeth’s relationship with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the whole question of her virginity or not.
All the characters were presented like real people with feelings and intricate traits.
Mary Shelton particular appeared so very real, and not fearing to be herself and blunt with the queen.The sense of dread was excellent as for Mary and Skydemore’s future. You know what’s coming, but the way it’s coming slowly but surely is really creepy and almost unbearable.
It was interesting to see how Mary’s inner growth and evolution was described. I was amazed how at the end, after everything, she was not bitter, but was still of awe and love for Elizabeth.
And all this of course on the background of the religion problems in England at the time, as Mary, Queen of Scots, seems to be plotting with Norfolk to reintroduce Catholicism and take Elizabeth’s place on the throne. The growing tension related to this was very well rendered.
The background includes as well England’s difficult relations with France and Spain.
I enjoyed also how life at court was described in many details, with for instance a lot of emphasis on all that could touch your sense of smell, in a disgusting or pleasant way! There were lots of information as well on the queen’s summer travels.
The Author’s Note after the novel was really excellent at showing what was real and what modifications she introduced.
One thing that was not perfectly clear to me at first, was the nature of the pages in italics, here and there between “regular chapters”. First, I was thinking maybe they were thoughts going through Elizabeth’s mind. I believe they are actually more things that Elizabeth shared with her confidante Blanche. They are important passages.
And I noticed one typo which I hope disappeared form the final copy: pubic instead of public on page 113.
VERDITC: Historical fiction about England too often focuses on the Boleyns. Through this rather sad story, Barnhill offers here a refreshing view on a major page of the end of the Tudor dynasty. Getting to know Mary Shelton, you will experience all the major troubles of the times, including the fits of a fierce royal character and the omnipresent looming shadow of the Tower. For all historical novel lovers.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.
Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds. [provided by HFVBT]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Clinard Barnhill has been writing or dreaming of writing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has published articles, book and theater reviews, poetry, and short stories. Her first book, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ, recalls what it was like growing up with an autistic sister. Her work has won various awards and grants. Barnhill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Besides writing, Barnhill also enjoys teaching, conducting writing workshops, and facilitating seminars to enhance creativity. She loves spending time with her three grown sons and their families. For fun, she and her husband of thirty years, Frank, take long walks and play bridge. In rare moments, they dance.
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