Mrsgaskell's Reviews > The Queen's Sorrow

The Queen's Sorrow by Suzannah Dunn
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's review
Sep 13, 10

bookshelves: british, own, 7-star
Read from September 06 to 13, 2010 — I own a copy

This book is set in the time of Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Shunted aside when her father abandoned her mother for Anne Boleyn, she succeeded to the throne upon the death of her half-brother Edward VI. There was rejoicing upon her accession to the throne but her reign was a terrible time and she is best remembered as “Bloody Mary”. She attempted to return England to Roman Catholicism and over 300 “heretics” were burned at the stake. Although the title of the book leads one to expect a story focused on the Queen, the main character is Rafael, a member of the Spanish entourage of Philip of Spain. In her late thirties, the spinster Mary married her nephew Philip in the hopes of producing an heir to the throne and bringing stability to England. But her marriage to a Spaniard was not popular among the English. Rafael was commissioned by Philip to create a sundial for the Queen and was supposed to be in England, away from his wife and son, for six weeks. But the months drag by, and due to lack of funds and direction, the sundial project does not really get underway. Rafael and the rest of the Spaniards, are stuck in London, resented foreigners idly passing the time until their return to Spain. Billeted in the home of a merchant, Rafael gets to know the seamstress Cecily and her young son Nicholas. We also learn something of his life in Seville. The book was filled with interesting details of Tudor life and the counter-reformation, but I would have liked more about the Queen and her life at court. Seen through the eyes of Rafael, one felt some sympathy for Mary, but he seemed incredibly naïve at times. The ending was much more dramatic than I expected. I enjoyed the additional sections at the back of the book, “Reign of Error”, “Rafael’s London”, and the Q&A with the author. It’s interesting to know that there have never been any national monuments to Queen Mary.

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09/06/2010 page 27
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