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Secrets of the Tudor Court

Darcey Bonnette

Read 22 May 2012

I am a self-confessed history geek. I love the Tudors and will read or watch anything that features these larger-than-life historical characters.

This is not always a good thing.

I really wanted to like this book. I liked the idea of Mary Howard telling her story, of seeing the court of Henry VIII from a different angle. She was married to Henry VIII’s bastard son, served several of Henry’s ill-fated queens and was the daughter of the great Norfolk, so this seemed a tale worth telling.

I think my main problem with this book is that Mary, as imagined by Darcey Bonnette, is such a whiner. Barely a page passes without her feeling nauseous with fear. Her guts churn, her stomach aches, she vomits – it’s all about her and her belly-aching (literally and metaphorically). So I have a recommendation for anyone about to head out on reading this book. Rather than reading it for pleasure, use it as a drinking game. Every time Mary mentions her stomach problems, take a shot of vodka. Before too many pages have passed you will undoubtedly be in much the same state stomach-wise as Mary is throughout the book, and maybe therefore able to sympathise a bit more with the tedious and repetitive state of the prose, examples of which are (numbers are Kindle locators):

  • My stomach churning in revulsion (186);
  • My stomach settles a bit upon hearing the soothing sincerity (380);
  • I have the worst stomach pains (688);
  • I say against the nausea in my throat (979);
  • I do not want to tell him of the heaviness in both stomach and heart at the thought of him (1010);
  • My stomach is upset, whether from the rich food or his stern vigilance I do not know (1900);
  • My stomach hurts (2362);
  • My stomach churns and lurches (2479);
  • I took leave of the festivities early as my stomach is upset (2619);
  • My stomach is constantly upset (2795);
  • The stomach-turning testimony of his wife (2828);
  • My stomach aches (3069);
  • My stomach aches (3237);
  • In a display that churns the stomach (3548);
  • The stench of his ulcerated leg causing my stomach to churn (3583);
  • My stomach churns (3827);
  • My stomach aches (3880);
  • I place a hand on my churning stomach (3890);
  • I wait at Kenninghall, my stomach aching (3965);
  • My stomach churns (4184);
  • My stomach lurches (4198);
  • If I keep looking at him I will vomit (4461);
  • Bread, the thing least likely to upset my stomach (4636);
  • I am beleaguered by terrible stomach pain (5978);
  • Clutching my stomach (5994)


PS. Also, what’s with the disclaimer? It reads:

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Eh? So Ms Bonnette is claiming that she made up Henry VIII and that he happens to resemble the English monarch of the same name is ‘entirely coincidental’?

Filed under tudors henryviii books anneboleyn disclaimers