Orsolya's Reviews > Mistress of Mourning

Mistress of Mourning by Karen Harper
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
5647191
's review
Aug 26, 12

bookshelves: historical-fiction, mistresses-royalty, queens, tudor-england
Read from August 23 to 25, 2012

WINNER OF GR GIVEAWAY

Even with all the Tudor hoopla; little seems to be known about Elizabeth of York, the mother of Henry VIII. Karen Harper’s “Mistress of Mourning” attempts to offer an insight into Elizabeth’s view of the disappearance of her princely brothers and of the death her son, Arthur.

“Mistress of Mourning” instantly off put my reading satisfaction by introducing the character of Varina Wescott with nothing more than elementary flair. Instead of “living” through or even with Varina; Harper spends too much time simply telling the character’s back story instead of following a natural, developmental arch. Furthermore, there is no gripping factor surrounding Varina and therefore the reader never truly roots for her throughout the novel. Plus, Varina lacks vigor, is very one dimensional, and has thoughts which remind me of an annoying teenager. Basically, her character isn’t solid or overly accessible and/or likable.

Harper does try to supplement this character by presenting “Mistress of Mourning” with alternating view points/storytelling by Varina and Elizabeth of York. Although Harper successfully distinguishes between the two voices which sets them a part (Elizabeth possesses way more poise than Varina); the swaps occur too often which prevents the reader from truly getting to know one character from another. It almost felt like Harper had two separate book ideas with each being unfinished and decided to try to combine them.

On a positive note, “Mistress of Mourning” was interesting when explaining the art form of candle making and wax effigies. Harper clearly did her research and sparks curiosity to the topic. The Tudor elements, however, are somewhat bland (although they include some accurate facts); and make Elizabeth of York seem crazy in her quest for answers to the mystery surrounding her brothers and Arthur’s death.

The entire novel is unbelievable and is a case example of a good idea with poor execution. The romance between Varina and Nicholas Sutton lacks intensity, growth, and chemistry; while the mystery elements are plain ridiculous and obviously untrue. There are several, “Are you serious?!” moments. Plus, “Mistress of Mourning” is very rushed with the feeling that something of substance will happen but it never does. For those who enjoy literary language and illustrious settings… you won’t find that here. Those are missing elements, as well.

Also unbelievable (and extremely grating) were the love scenes between Varina and Nicholas. Again, not only did they lack chemistry and feel forced but also were comparable to a high school-level couple. I would have even preferred a Fabio romance at this point!

Although seemingly small details, I couldn’t stand Varina CONSTANTLY having “tears in her eyes” (which depleted her characterization even more); or the fact that the characters called the King and Queen “Your Majesty” when that title wasn’t in use until the time of Henry VIII.

The conclusion of the novel is anti-climatic, predictable, and too “happily ever after”. This will certainly upset those readers who were by now annoyed with the already poor book.

“Mistress of Mourning” is barely above a fairy tale with fantastical ghosts, witches, etc. It is hardly a historical fiction novel and much too high on the fluff ladder. I am not a fan of Harper’s Queen Elizabeth mini-series (I only read one because it was so terrible), yet “Mistress of Mourning” is even worse. Truly only recommended for those not seeking any depth or historical credibility. Had I not won this on GR, I would have not been inclined to finish it.

10 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Mistress of Mourning.
sign in »

Reading Progress

08/23/2012 page 162
39.0% "If I hadn't won this on GR, I would already quit reading this. I've liked other works by Harper but this one is failing me."
08/24/2012 page 238
57.0% "Wow... I'm going to be blunt and skip the fancy language and say: this book SUCKS"
08/25/2012 page 320
77.0% "Can't wait for this book to end! And stop calling the King and Queen "Your Majesty"! That didn't begin until 1519 with Henry VIII!"

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

message 1: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit That's the price that comes with these wins and ARCs. You're committed to finishing. Why I don't enter and don't take many even from Amazon Vine. Much easier to shut a library book closed after a few chapters and return it.


Orsolya Misfit wrote: "That's the price that comes with these wins and ARCs. You're committed to finishing. Why I don't enter and don't take many even from Amazon Vine. Much easier to shut a library book closed after a f..."

You make very good points! I still feel lucky to have won (just to win SOMETHING) but wish this had been better. :P


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Oh dear..I have this one..but since Erin gave it a 4 star and you a 1 star,Im just going to have to find out for myself :)


Orsolya Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* wrote: "Oh dear..I have this one..but since Erin gave it a 4 star and you a 1 star,Im just going to have to find out for myself :)"

We'll see what you think. Maybe you will be in the middle.


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Orsolya wrote: "Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* wrote: "Oh dear..I have this one..but since Erin gave it a 4 star and you a 1 star,Im just going to have to find out for myself :)"

We'll see what you think. Maybe you w..."


Have you read other books by this author Orsolya?
She's kinda hit and miss with me.


message 6: by Sarah (new)

Sarah M Thanks for the review! Sadly I don't think I'll bother with this one .


Lolly's Library Great review, but you know what I think would bother me the most about the book? The name 'Varina'. It is not an era-appropriate name and, frankly, immediately gives the book a Harlequin Historical-type feel.


Orsolya Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* wrote: "Orsolya wrote: "Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* wrote: "Oh dear..I have this one..but since Erin gave it a 4 star and you a 1 star,Im just going to have to find out for myself :)"

We'll see what you th..."


Yes, Sandi. Like I mentioned in the review, I've read of the Elizabeth mystery novels (which I hated). I also read "The Last Boleyn" and "Mistress Shakespeare". I really enjoyed TLB but I read all of these years ago so not sure how I would feel now. However, I really don't think they were AS terrible as this was.


Orsolya Sarah wrote: "Thanks for the review! Sadly I don't think I'll bother with this one ."

Don't blame you!I suffered enough for the both of us!


Orsolya Lolly's wrote: "Great review, but you know what I think would bother me the most about the book? The name 'Varina'. It is not an era-appropriate name and, frankly, immediately gives the book a Harlequin Historic..."

Thanks for the kind words!

I wasn't aware of the name not being era-appropriate but then that adds to my dislike to this book! I feel like this was worse than a Harlequin romance though, so that's actually giving this novel more credit than it is worth, ha.


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* I did note that you read the Elizabeth Mystery novel..alas..I have all of those..drat:( What didnt you like about it? I tried The Mistress Shakespeare one but couldnt get into it and thought I would try later.Oh well..III let them collect dust for a bit longer before I tackle them.


Orsolya I forgot to mention that I also read The Queen's Governess. The msytery one was just terrible. There really wasn't any connection to Elizabeth, Cecil, Dudley, etc. It seemed like made-up characters going by those names. I can't remember it much because it was years ago and I hated it but it is just very childish. If you couldn't get into Mistress Shakespeare, you REALLY wouldn't like this book because it is worse!


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Orsolya wrote: "I forgot to mention that I also read The Queen's Governess. The msytery one was just terrible. There really wasn't any connection to Elizabeth, Cecil, Dudley, etc. It seemed like made-up characters..."

Thanks for the heads up on that!:)


Orsolya I think you can safely skip them and not feel a loss.


message 15: by Marie (new)

Marie Varina is a name that sounds too close to va*ina & I would never be able to get past that.


Orsolya Marie wrote: "Varina is a name that sounds too close to va*ina & I would never be able to get past that."

Haha, glady that didn't cross my mind while reading (however, it would now that you mention it!).


message 17: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar I am so done with this author!


message 18: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit I've tried two, neither time did I get very far. One was one of her older romances, and the second one of the newer ones.


Orsolya I'm done too. I have felt some guilt and almost as though it is a requirement to read certain well-known authors in this genre; but I am done with that. I can't worry about what is "required"!


back to top