In the Shadow of the Crown [NOOK Book]

Overview

As Henry VIII's only child, the future seemed golden for Princess Mary. She was the daughter of Henry's first queen, Katharine of Aragon, and was heir presumptive to the throne of England. Red-haired like her father, she was also intelligent and deeply religious like her staunchly Catholic mother. But her father's ill-fated love for Anne Boleyn would shatter Mary's life forever. The father who had once adored her was now intent on having a male heir at all costs. He divorced her mother and, at the age of twelve, ...
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In the Shadow of the Crown

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Overview

As Henry VIII's only child, the future seemed golden for Princess Mary. She was the daughter of Henry's first queen, Katharine of Aragon, and was heir presumptive to the throne of England. Red-haired like her father, she was also intelligent and deeply religious like her staunchly Catholic mother. But her father's ill-fated love for Anne Boleyn would shatter Mary's life forever. The father who had once adored her was now intent on having a male heir at all costs. He divorced her mother and, at the age of twelve, Mary was banished from her father’s presence, stripped of her royal title, and replaced by his other children--first Elizabeth, then Edward. Worst of all, she never saw her beloved mother again; Katharine was exiled too, and died soon after. Lonely and miserable, Mary turned for comfort to the religion that had sustained her mother.

In a stroke of fate, however, Henry's much-longed-for son died in his teens, leaving Mary the legitimate heir to the throne. It was, she felt, a sign from God--proof that England should return to the Catholic Church. Swayed by fanatical advisors and her own religious fervor, Mary made horrific examples of those who failed to embrace the Church, earning her the immortal nickname "Bloody Mary." She was married only once, to her Spanish cousin Philip II--a loveless and childless marriage that brought her to the edge of madness.

With In the Shadow of the Crown, Jean Plaidy brings to life the dark story of a queen whose road to the throne was paved with sorrow.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307496140
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/21/2009
  • Series: A Queens of England Novel , #6
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 437,752
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

JEAN PLAIDY, one of the preeminent authors of historical fiction for most of the twentieth century, is the pen name of the prolific English author Eleanor Hibbert, also known as Victoria Holt. Jean Plaidy’s novels had sold more than 14 million copies worldwide by the time of her death in 1993.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Mary’s motto is, “Time unveils Truth.” Why does she believe that? Does it prove to be an accurate statement? How does it become a recurring theme of the novel?

2. Love–for her mother, her betrothed, her siblings, her handmaids–is an enduring motif in Mary’s story. Do you think she understands what love is? Does she find true love in any form?

3. Mary portrays her father at various times as a cruel tyrant, an incorrigible dissembler, and “a god, all-powerful and gloriously benign." Do you think she believes each one at the time? What do you think of Henry–how he treats his daughter, his wives, and women in general? Is he a good king, even if he’s not the best father? If he were ruling a country today, how might he be perceived by the world?

4. After her betrothal to the Emperor is rescinded, Mary says, “I must thrust aside sentimentality. I must cease to dream of chivalry and romance. That was not for such as I was, and oddly enough I did not wish it to be different.” Does she succeed in this effort? Why or why not? Does she really want to?

5. Mary says, “My heart was filled with anger–not toward him so much as toward [Anne Boleyn], the goggle-eyed whore, the woman who was his evil genius. I blamed her for all the trials which had befallen us.” Why does she lay the blame at Anne’s feet instead of her father’s? In doing so is she betraying her gender, or rationalizing as any child of a broken home might do?

6. Over and over, Mary criticizes her father for his malleable conscience, but it often seems hers is equally compliant. As she says on page 135, “I began to believe fervently that what I had done–however much it had been against my principles–was the only way in which I could have acted.” When does that cease to be a purely personal foible? What are the repercussions? Does Mary ever recognize this trait in herself?

7. How does Catherine of Aragon’s example affect Mary’s behavior? Ultimately, do you believe her mother would be proud of her? What about her surrogate mother, the Countess?

8. Symbolism plays a great role at court, through rituals, family members’ inclusion or exclusion, even room decor. What would you say was Mary’s most symbolic act? What did it signify?

9. Most, if not all, of what happens in Mary’s life stems from the simple fact of her gender. How might things have been different if Catherine had managed to produce a son in addition to Mary? If Mary had been permitted to marry and have children at a reasonable age?

10. Mary’s illnesses often come on at critical times. What does Plaidy lead you to believe about these spells, through Mary’s own narration? If she were alive today, would her bouts be taken seriously, or would she be sent for psychiatric treatment?

11. Throughout the novel, Mary persists in believing her cousin the Emperor to be her staunch supporter, even though he repeatedly refuses to involve himself in any meaningful way in her plight. Is she just naïve, or is something bolstering her belief? Do you see parallels in her relationships with Elizabeth and Philip?

12. Ultimately Mary gains the throne. Is this because, as she seems to believe, she has learned to maneuver in the politics of the court, or just happenstance? What do you think of her choices as Queen? Is she making up her own mind or being manipulated? How do her advisors differ from her father’s?

13. “Though I was a woman and they might think a man would be more suitable to rule them, I had a heart full of sympathy for my subjects and I would be a gentle and loving sovereign.” Mary says this at the beginning of her reign, but later she complains, “How many more had suffered, and as cruelly, in my father’s reign? . . .He had sent them to their deaths because they disagreed with him; I had done so because these victims had disagreed with God’s Holy Writ. Why should I be so stigmatized when none had questioned him?” Given the fact that Mary is telling her story in hindsight, what do you make of these two quotes? Was her gender a factor in the way her subjects judged her? Was her legacy deserved?

14. Do you see any parallels between the hunts for “heretics” in Henry’s reign, and again in Mary’s, and religious extremism in the world today? What might we learn from the Tudor era?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    Good

    It was good but too much repetition, I would have liked the same emotion put in her other books like Queen of this rralm about Elizabeth I, or Katherine of Aragon, Lady In The Tower used here.
    My favorite fiction book of Mary has been thus far Daughter of Henry VIII by Rosemary Churchill.
    I recommend this though if you are a die hard fan of history and Tudors like me but be aware there won't be that much insight or in depth as her previous books.

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  • Posted July 5, 2012

    Repetition

    If you read the previous books on the series, you can skip several chapters. Before you get to the actual story of Mary's ascension you have to read (again) everything that happened before during her early years.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2006

    Interesting, but drags

    I thought Mary's character was very intresting, and i found myself thinking throught the story, 'what would i do if i was in that situation' as an actor i love a book that can make me think of a characters motivation. I enjoyed growing up with Mary and watching her grow. However Jean Plaidy's writing style differs greatly from most other historical writers. She basicly told it strait up, how it was, very little emotion or climaxes. I also found the repetition of ideas very dull. for example, she mentions once that she would like to marry Reginald, just like their mothers had wanted. And this thought is repeated almost every chapter, sometimes several times. There were others to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2005

    a truely great book about a little known Queen

    This book gives you a look at marys world as she saw it, and it gives her a chance to defend herself in her bloody reign. Plaidy portrays her as a girl who is one minded and unconfindent in her own decisons, she really believes she needs a man to help her rule her counrty. Plaidy also implies that marys problems rest in the treatment of mother and herself at the hands of her father.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2005

    Eh....

    Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be a review that discourages you from reading this book because it really is wonderful, Jean Plaidy writes wonderful books, but her writing in general bothers me sometimes. I don't think there's enough dialogue or as detailed discriptions of the setting as I have seen in other writers. I thought Mary's view was quite interesting, but probably inaccurate to her true character. I whole-heartedly believe that Mary was probably much more embittered than she was portrayed by the author. I really don't think she was as sympathetic as in the book.... after all they call her Bloody Mary for a reason. I do think she had mercy in her, but still too bitter to see straight. Tendency to hold grudges. Don't see that in the book. By the way, I ALSO don't approve her implying that Elizabeth was a virgin. Ha! That's practically impossible either way you look at it. The odds are highly against it. They call her virgin queen simply because she never married, and unmarried women are supposed to be thought of as virgins....hence the term 'maiden name' All and all it was a still a good book and I do recommend it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2004

    Mary's Road to the Throne

    First off, I'm excited that several of Jean Plaidy's (real name Eleanor Hibbert) books are now back in print. I had always wondered what Mary's story would have been like if she had personally told it. I was delighted to see Jean Plaidy had written a book on Mary. I really enjoyed this book. Mary in the 1st person allowed for the reader to see events as she saw it. I first encountered Jean Plaidy in high school and all the books I've read by her are a pleasure. Jean Plaidy is a wonderful story teller, and it's easy to see why she was a successful writer.

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    Posted December 26, 2008

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    Posted October 27, 2008

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