Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Redheaded Princess
Rinaldi, Ann. 2008. The Redheaded Princess.
The Redheaded Princess. What can I say about this one? It's a fictional novel--for teens--about Princess Elizabeth. The novel opens when she's a child and she's still estranged from her father, King Henry VIII. The novel closes with the death of her sister, Queen Mary, a.k.a Bloody Mary. In between, there are many ups and downs along the way. Her semi-reconciliation with her father and his newest and latest wife, Katharine. Her relationship with her half-brother, Edward, the boy who would become King (and did in fact become King) yet who never really "reigned" on his own. Too young. Too sickly. Her very, very strange relationship with Thomas Seymour. Her turbulent relationship with her older half-sister, Mary.
Elizabeth's life was strange. No doubt about it. Never knowing her mother, only really hearing about how she had "bewitched" the King into divorcing his wife. She was presented to the girl as a whore and a witch. Someone dangerous to imitate. She had a distant relationship with her father. Sometimes in favor and in court, other times forgotten and left to fend for herself in the country. Not that she was alone. She had her servants, her friends, her tutors. But still. Without parental guidance let's say. And she didn't have normal family relationships with her brother and sister either. When one sibling has the power of life and death over the others, the power to imprison, things can get messy very very quickly.
The plotting. Oh the plotting. The scheming. It seems that there was never an end to the number of people who wanted to use these three children as pawns to gain favor, esteem, wealth, and power. Manipulations. Trying to turn the family against one another time and time again.
The religion. I wonder if readers grasp just how big this Catholic versus Protestant issue was back in the day. Where being one or the other could cost you your life. To realize just how opposing and judgmental they were of one another. It is hard, I think, for readers to grasp until they've studied the era, studied the writers of that time period. This was really and truly life and death stuff. And believers had to be ready to die for how they chose to worship. For how they viewed the sacraments.
Anyway, if you're already familiar with the Tudors, with Henry VIII and his children (Mary, Elizabeth, Edward), then you won't learn much more than you already know. If you're not that familiar, this would be a nice place to start.
This novel would be a good companion to Rinaldi's previous novel, Nine Days A Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey.
The real question may be how does this one compare to Carolyn Meyer's series on the Young Tudor women.
Mary, Bloody Mary. Doomed Queen Anne. Patience, Princess Catherine. Beware Princess Elizabeth. And the answer to that would be purely subjective.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews