Book review – Mary Boleyn in a nutshell by Sarah Bryson

Very little is known about the other Boleyn girl. Was she the mistress of two Kings? Did she give birth to Henry VIII’s children? Just what do we know about Mary Boleyn?

Sarah Bryson jumps into the unknown life of Mary Boleyn and attempts to pull the facts out of the little that is known about her.

We start right at the beginning with the birth of the Boleyn children and the debate over the order in which they were born. We follow Mary though her time at the French court and her return to England.

Sarah Bryson takes her time to look into Mary’s alleged relationship with King Francis I of France. Bringing in arguments for and against Mary being the French King’s mistress we are given a balanced and clear idea of what may have happened. All the evidence is carefully examined and anything that was documented falsely is proven with the reasons why. An example of this is a letter written by Rodolfo Pio in the year that Anne and George were executed. Bryson clearly explains why and how what is written in the letter is false.

A large portion of this book looks at Mary’s relationship with King Henry VIII and it deals with the question of whether her children Catherine and Henry were in fact Henry’s children or the legitimate children with her husband William Carey. I found this section of the book highly interesting as this is what Mary is remembered for over everything else so to have the facts written down clearly is helpful to anyone who doesn’t know much about Mary Boleyn.

Bryson also explains what happens to Mary once her relationship with Henry was over, her banishment from court and her second marriage with William Stafford. Much of her later life is unknown but we get the idea that she lived happily away from court with her family.

The book is a great read and easily finished if you have an afternoon free for reading. It is great to learn more about the Boleyn who is often left in the shadows of her younger sister, Anne.

Mary Boleyn in a nutshell

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