Paste Magazine’s “The Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Books of 2024”:.

Why we're excited: When discussing the Tudor family, most of the focus is almost always on King Henry VIII and the story of his six wives or the triumph of his daughter Elizabeth, who went on to become one of the most famous queens in all of history. His eldest child, Mary Tudor, is often forgotten or swept aside, with little more than the sobriquet “Bloody Mary” to summarize her life and time on England’s throne. But this latest historical fiction novel from Alison Weir, the author of the Six Tudor Queens series, is here to change all that and aims to finally give Mary her due. 

Adored only child of Henry VIII and his Queen, Katherine of Aragon, Princess Mary is raised in the golden splendour of her father’s court. But the King wants a son and heir.
With her parents’ marriage, and England, in crisis, Mary’s perfect world begins to fall apart. Exiled from the court and her beloved mother, she seeks solace in her faith, praying for her father to bring her home. But when the King does promise to restore her to favour, his love comes with a condition.
The choice Mary faces will haunt her for years to come – in her allegiances, her marriage and her own fight for the crown. Can she become the queen she was born to be?
Alison Weir’s new Tudor novel is the tale, full of drama and tragedy, of how a princess with such promise, loved by all who knew her, became the infamous Bloody Mary.


"Congratulations! This is a fantastic novel, and I know how daunting it initially felt to bring Mary to life with both authenticity and the right level of sympathy. I think you’ve absolutely succeeded. It brings a really fresh perspective to the series to see the history we’ve become familiar with from an entirely different point of view. Following Mary from precious, precocious child to determined queen to her desperate, sad final days is a fascinating journey. It’s made all the more so by the way her beliefs and faith impeded her ability to compromise or find an easier route through challenges, which is at times admirable and others so damaging! She is overshadowed so often by characters who have more power, or charisma, or are willing to be more expedient, so the moments when she stands firm and wins, particularly in her early queenhood, are particularly powerful, and her indecision at other times both realistic and frustrating. I think the influence across her life of her divided emotions towards her father is really strongly shown, along with the emotional impact of the losses she suffers early on. I really enjoyed seeing Katherine of Aragon, Henry and Elizabeth through Mary’s eyes, and the way you played on her possible relationship with Chapuys, who’s always been a favourite character of mine.
   Mary is a complicated and, as we’ve discussed, not always sympathetic character, and I think that you’ve captured her really well – no, we don’t agree with her policies but we understand why she herself pursued them; why she felt that heresy was so dangerous and had to be stamped out. (And of course, so much of her story takes place before this – we’ve seen how she was threatened under both her father’s and Edward’s reigns, and why her faith is so intensely important to her.) There’s an interesting line from Philip that stayed with me, from just after he’s spoken to Elizabeth: ‘She is very different from you, my dear. She does not see things in black and white. There is a subtlety in her.’ While Mary is of course incensed that Elizabeth has managed to ingratiate herself with Philip, this ‘black and white’ approach, so similar to her mother’s, bears out a truth that we’ve seen throughout.
  Another thing that resonates is Mary’s sadness and the anxiety that the stresses and challenges of her unique position (first as disinherited princess, then as the first Queen of England, then as she tries to navigate her obligations to her country, her god and her husband) leave her in.
  There’s so much richness and depth here, and I love the way that this finale to the trilogy spans so much of the previous novels’ worlds while bringing a fresh perspective on the events of the time."

"We’re so impressed. You’ve written a beautiful novel – Mary is such a compelling character, and I was wholly caught up in her story from child to woman to Queen. I was especially struck by the relationship between the three siblings and found how she perceives both her brother and sister, and how those relationships shift across the course of the novel, especially fascinating. I felt like I really understood Mary and the reasons for the choices that she makes, and felt her emotional depth – and the profundity of her faith – even when I was horrified by the reality of some of her actions."

"Thoughts on Mary I - it’s absolutely wonderful. There’s so much to admire here, and you really bring out Mary’s humanity, horribly misguided as it was towards the end. It’s a fascinating and emotional read, and I feel that we really get to know and understand her in such a powerful way. You have brought in an additional richness and depth, and fantastic finale to the trilogy."

UK Holding jacket; jacket for Australia and New Zealand.


"An exquisitely drawn, poignant portrayal of one of history’s most complex, maligned and fascinating figures. Told with all of Alison Weir's characteristic verve and eye for evocative period detail, this is a book that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. A must for Tudor fans everywhere.
   "Huge congratulations on the novel. It is absolutely stunning. You brought Mary to life as never before. You managed to get under her skin in a way that I have never seen done before, either in fiction or non-fiction. You have produced a true masterpiece." (Tracy Borman)

"Utterly convincing and eminently readable. This is Alison Weir’s most humane – and most personal – novel yet. Her huge fund of historical knowledge allows her to tackle head on the challenge of our most controversial Queen, at once beleaguered girl and the ‘Bloody Mary’ of black legend. The result is a Mary Tudor we can all accept, without having always to admire.’ (Sarah Gristwood)

"A spectacular tour de force. Elegantly written, historically accurate, Alison Weir has masterfully told this tragic story from Mary I’s perspective: a beloved and betrayed princess and wife who became fearsome queen. Alison, you deliver in spades!" (Susan Ronald)

"What a totally absorbing read and remarkable novel. I was utterly enthralled by the way Alison so skilfully shows the gradual evolution from the tender, brave and resolute little girl, determined to love and protect her half siblings into the desperate woman, so broken by her marriage and the constant political and religious deceits and manipulations around her. I thought I knew Mary’s story quite well, but though I knew the what, where and when, this gave me a completely new insight into the why and how of Mary’s transformation – the parallels between her desperately seeking love from her father and then from her husband, and the way in which the faith which had given so much courage and comfort as child, had become so twisted through her experiences it had become a demon, driving her to such cruelty. At the end of the novel, I was left wanting to weep for her, but also shudder in horror at who she had become. Although, I suppose, she was no worse than the male perpetrators of the Inquisition in Europe. It is Alison’s great skill that showed us in the child a glimpse of the compassionate queen she might have been, which really drives home the tragedy of her story in a way I’d never understood it before. Brilliant!" (Karen Maitland)

"I just wanted to say how amazing it was! I couldn’t stop reading it, your books have always been a comfort and joy to read, and this one was just the same. I cannot wait to be able to purchase a paper copy in May, counting down the days till I buy your beautiful book." (Unholy Tudor)

"I’m now halfway through Queen of Sorrows and it’s SO good - I honestly can’t put it down! I just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying it." (Nicola Tallis)

"Tudor expert Weir dexterously humanizes this polarizing figure. [She] aptly demonstrates how politics and personal relationships intermix via Elizabeth’s transformation, in Mary’s eyes, from beloved sister to dangerous rival. Mary’s passionate spirit, which is stubbornly and tragically misdirected, comes alive via Weir’s thorough approach." (Booklist)

"Thrilling, captivating, this is brilliant evocation of Mary and her world, Alison Weir welcomes us into her vivid, tragic and dangerous life. Beautifully evoked, she makes Mary’s story unforgettable." (Kate Williams)