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on 5 June 2012
I have read four recent books by David Loades and it seems he is turning into the male Elizabeth Norton of Amberley Publishing; releasing three or so, in my opinion, lightweight books a year while the publisher ticks off from their wish list of Tudor personalities they would like written about. This is even more disappointing when you consider someone of Loades' reputation.

On the one hand the book is not badly written but it does not engage you either. Loades just does enough to keep your interest. The main problem is that there is not enough known about Mary Rose to justify a biography solely about her. True, Loades describes her being a pawn played by her elder brother Henry VIII in European politics with her betrothal to Charles of Castile, later Charles V, and marriage to Louis XII of France but after her marriage to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, she takes a backseat. Charles is now the centre of the book, albeit influenced by Mary Rose in his pro-French policy. You are treated to brief family histories and Mary Rose's view on her brother's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn. Again, he just writes enough.

The last book written on Mary Rose was Maria Perry's 'Sisters to the King' which Loades dismisses as 'popular'. You would expect then that Loades would write a more scholarly effort. He hasn't really.
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VINE VOICEon 21 June 2012
David Loades starts with stating that royal princess are always interesting, especially in a strong personal monarchy, and it is justified having a new look who Mary Rose was.

Well, maybe but what do we learn more from this book than we aleady new? I feel nothing. Mary's five minute of fame was her three month marriage to the elderly King of France and her quick remarriage to Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk. This help to cement Charles Brandon's position as what one could possibly claim the closest personal freindship with Henry VIII. Mary was from this point the royal court beauty, an ornament of the court, but of no consequence whatsoever.

Chapter by chapter the book reveals that as there are tons of information on the time, the events and ceremonies and only for good measures throwns in - as this book is on Mary - that she was there and participated. One does not learn about her real opinions, her friendships, her role as Duchess or as mother. However one does learn an awful lot about her husband, the Duke of Suffolk and his role at the court of Hernry VIII. To be very frank I wished the author would have written a proper biography on the Duke of Suffolk. Here really lies a huge gap.

All in all, I share the previous reviewer's disappointment. The book never takes off or really engages the reader. It is party boring, partly extremenly lightweight. It seems indeed quickly assembled in order to meet a publishing deadline. Foir me not worth the money.
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on 8 July 2014
This is a pleasant, readable biography, but suffers from a lack of detailed information about the subject. Its modest length is achieved only by an introduction describing how the Tudors took the throne from the Yorkists, and a conclusion outlining events such as the Lady Jane Grey conspiracy which occurred 20 years after Mary Rose's death. I agree with another reviewer that a new study of her husband Charles Brandon would have made for a more worthwhile book.
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on 18 April 2013
Bought this as part of my daughter in laws Xmas present, she was delighted with it and I patiently wait my turn to read it
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on 6 December 2014
Agree with the other reviews. The book was a bit of a let down. There does not seem to have been the effort to discover more about the woman herself by a more in depth search of resources.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 31 October 2014
I came to this book with real high hopes. It's always refreshing to come across a book about one of the more obscure Tudor personalities - there is only so much one can read about Henry VIII and his procession of wives, after all. And Mary has always seemed too much of an intriguing character to be hidden in the shadows - Queen of France for little more than months, secretly married to her brother's best friend, ostracised from court in disgrace before working her way back into Henry's favour.

But, sadly, this book was a disappointment. Part of it is that there just simply isn't enough material to really fill a decent biography - Mary herself is little more than a cipher in these pages, appearing occasionally to dance or wear fancy frocks or bear children, but the real focus is on her matrimonial history: her engagement to Charles of Ghent, her marriage to the French King, her marriage to Charles Brandon. And even here, these men are the focus, not Mary.

And part is Loades' style. This book is workmanlike. There's little attempt to engage the reader, no colour or dash, not attempt to bring Mary and her world to life. He makes no effort to establish context or background to events and there are numerous off-hand references to events many readers may not be familiar with. Loades dismisses other previous biographies of Mary as 'popular', but this is hardly what I would call scholarly. He provides just enough detail to make his point, no more, and as a result there's no real depth to this book.

Based on this I would not be in a hurry to pick up any other of Loades' books. The cynic in me thinks this was a quick buck production by the publishers to cash in on the popularity of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor from their characters in 'The Tudors'.
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