"Fall" Square

The Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain's Greatest Dynasty - Tracy Borman

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.


                Do we really need another book about the Tudors?


                I’m not sure, but they do seem to be sparking quite the industry don’t they?

                Borman’s book is suppose to be about the private lives – not so much sex, though there is plenty of that- but of housekeeping and castle running.  In other words, how bodily functions were carried out, what make up was used, and, of course, the virginity of Elizabeth I.


                It is not a bad book, but it is hardly a book that someone who has already read books about the Henrys, Mary, Edward, and Elizabeth I needs to read.  The best sections are those were Borman really does focus on the private lives, such private lives that the kings and queens could have (which really wasn’t much).  In this case, it means discussing views about sex as well as herbs that could be used if one spent too much time with a woman.  There are detailed descriptions about royal wardrobes that are actually quite interesting, and make Henry VIII look even more of a bully.


                The book bogs down for the far from causal Tudor reader, when Borman retreads the well-known Tudor stories, and why she acknowledges this in her introduction, that doesn’t make the reading more fascinating for those readers who already know this.  What is interesting is that Borman follows the standard glossy over Edward and Mary (especially Mary) to make quick room for Elizabeth.  It’s hardly surprising; Elizabeth ruled far, far longer.  But it also feels as if she let go of a chance to do something different too easily.   Instead of dwelling for the length of time she does on say Mary, Queen of Scots perhaps more about Mary I of England. 


                It is not a bad book, but if you have read other Tudor histories, it isn’t going to bring much new to the table.  If you have just started reading about the Tudors, you should add this to your list.



(Counting it as a "Fall Into a Good Book" because there are a slew of people falling from power here.  Usually by losing their heads).