Book Review: The Secret Bride

Since early childhood, King Henry VIII’s little sister Princess Mary Tudor has known it was her duty to king and country to cement alliances through an arranged marriage. First Mary’s father King Henry VII arranged a betrothal to the very young Prince of Castile and later, her brother insisted she marry the much older King Louis XII of France. It mattered little that King Henry’s best friend, Charles Brandon the ambitious Duke of Suffolk and Mary loved one another. She watched as Charles married twice for position and money, a court necessity and her close friend Jane Popincourt dallied with Thomas Knyvet. No matter how hard she tried, Mary could not help loving Charles and begging King Henry to reconsider her upcoming marriage to the old king only gained her the promise that she could marry whoever she wished if she were widowed. Three months after the marriage, King Louis XII was dead without an heir on his young bride and Mary finds herself fending off advances from the new, married King of France. When Charles, now a widower, arrives in France as King Henry’s emissary, Mary delivers an ultimatum that results in the two lovers finally getting married in secret. Done without King Henry’s permission, he forgets his promise to allow Mary to marry who she wants and sees their marriage as a betrayal. Court rivalries and Queen Katherine’s failure to produce a son leaves King Henry keenly feeling the perceived betrayal by his beloved sister and best friend in this thoughtful, evenly paced portrayal of the young monarch. Part historical romance, part biographical fiction, this telling of King Henry VIII’s rise to power, the politics of court and power struggles is from a different perspective that lends freshness to an old tale. Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.