Top positive review
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Intelligent and impressive
on 10 April 2010
John Guy's account of the relationship between Sir Thomas More and his daughter, Margaret, is utterly absorbing from the first page.
A devoted family man, Thomas More believed that his daughters should receive an education equal to that of his sons. With the greatest of care, he taught his children Greek and Latin, how to reason and how to form arguments. His eldest daughter, Margaret, proved the most apt scholar, such that she was feted by intellectuals throughout Europe. Within More's family, only she had the wit and learning to rival his sharp mind. Over the years, a deep and mutual respect grew between Margaret and her father based upon equality, love, and intellectual and spiritual understanding.
When Henry VIII demanded that all his subjects sign the Act of Supremacy and take an oath declaring Henry to be 'The Supreme Head of the Church in England', Sir Thomas More found that, in conscience, he could not sign since it would be a renunciation of his Christian duty to "first look unto God and after God unto the king". Imprisoned in the Tower by Thomas Cromwell, More's only aid came from his steadfast daughter.
In the wrong hands Guy's narrative could have been long and complex. It is, for example, often difficult to keep track of all the protagonists where such a large family is concerned, especially given the internecine complexities of extended families, marriages and re-marriages. However, Guy succeeds in making his subjects appear as fully rounded characters through his well structured and economic prose. The reader retains a clear idea of all the characters and issues so that there is little need for referring back to previous pages. The narrative is complete, moving, and compelling. The result is a page-turner which vividly brings the 16th Century to life.
Guy's brilliance is in refraining from speculation, allowing documentary evidence to speak for itself. His work is marked by the thoroughness and precision of his scholarly training. Perhaps the highest praise that can be given to 'A Daughter's Love' is that it makes the reader want to go to the original sources and read Thomas More and Margaret Roper in their own words.