Good Reading : September 2005
goodreading 9 she found that Mary had children, that she more than likely had two children by Henry – a son and a daughter – and they both did very well in Elizabeth’s court. Because Elizabeth was a Boleyn girl. Choosing Mary allowed Gregory the licence to observe the others. I think she constructed the book very well.The first chapter is Mary’s first memory – observing the beheading of her uncle, the Duke of Buckingham. I think it’s a beautifully structured book by having a beheading at the front and a beheading at the end. COLLEEN It’s still too long. GLENICE Yes it is. I think she got to the stage where she had so much information she didn’t know what to cut out because it was all pretty interesting stuff. In that first chapter at the end when Mary says to her mother I thought the king would forgive him. And her mother leans over and whispers to her ‘Then you are a fool and a fool to remark it.Watch and learn Mary, there is no room for mistakes in this court’. So this was the beginning of the family’s manipulation of the girls. PATRICIA And she was twelve. JAN It must have been pretty hard to bring a young girl, a 12-year-old, to that point. Of course they were already being married off at that age.They grew up pretty quickly then, didn’t they? KATHIE I suppose they were a lot older in some ways than now because they died earlier.You were an old man at 40. GLENICE She was only 14 or 15 when she had her first child by Henry. ANNE Given that she was only 43 when she died, you couldn’t say Mary had a long and happy life. JAN I thought it was interesting that she was still considered attractive after having had two children. I thought she would have been well and truly out the back. RUTH Well remember all those clothes they wore – very hard to tell what a woman’s body was like and there was no electricity, so in bed at night not a lot could be seen either! GLENICE Why does Mary call herself and George a pair of pleasant snakes? PATRICIA Because she’s being asked to do what in her heart she doesn’t want to. To spy and to scheme and to deceive the Queen who she is fond of, so she’s always having to present different faces and report back to the family. RUTH It was all to advance the Boleyn family no matter what. COLLEEN Initially Mary did love Henry. ALL She did. PATRICIA But in the end she hated him. GLENICE Mary professes that she loves and admires Queen Katherine and feels she can’t betray her. Do you agree that from start to finish Mary had no choice but to betray the Queen by taking the Queen’s message to her uncle? COLLEEN If she hadn’t have done it she wouldn’t have gained anything. She wouldn’t have got anything from the Queen, because the Queen had no power. MARLENE And she didn’t read the note, she didn’t know what was in it. RUTH At one stage Mary says something like I couldn’t help but obey. I felt that she had been so brainwashed from child- hood to do what the family said. It’s like she had no control. She was like a puppet on a string. GLENICE Do you agree with Anne when she says to Mary you can’t desire the King like an ordinary man and forget about the crown on his head? What does this say about Anne and about Mary? PATRICIA Anne was looking out for her chances. GLENICE I think Mary knew she would never be Queen because she was already married. JAN But Mary had had a son and that’s why she wasn’t as ambitious as Anne. Her son was very much in line to be King. RUTH I felt Mary’s character changed once she had children. She was more concerned about the quality of life and where she most enjoyed living and how much her children meant to her. And when Anne said she wanted Mary’s son, her response to that reverberated throughout the book. GLENICE After Anne was arrested Mary said we only did what we were com - manded to do. Did Henry have no choice but to behead Anne? RUTH I think he was a bit mad. I think he started to go a bit wonky when he decided to get rid of Katherine. JAN I think he was an extremely, extremely selfish person. PATRICIA He was the King – off with her head. KATHIE And he had the power to do it. GLENICE He was an extremely powerful person by then – head of the Church and head of the country. GLENICE Did Anne and her brother George and Ann really sleep together do you think? KATHIE I thought so, she wanted to have a baby by hook or by crook and she thought he’ll do, because she knows him, and he’ll keep quiet. COLLEEN It seemed very feasible to me. Because they were so affectionate. JAN It was also so feasible that his wife would manufacture such a story and all the way through you thought, maybe, maybe not. COLLEEN Makes it all the more fascinat- ing doesn’t it.We need DNA samples! Share your opinions and thoughts with our readers by becoming our Reading Group of the Month. If you are successful, we’ll provide each member of your group with a free copy of a specially selected title and publish an edited version of your discussion. To register, simply fill out the card on page 45 and mail to: Good Reading, GPO Box 3835, Sydney NSW 2001, or register your group online at www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au Would you like to be our Reading Group of the Month? reading group From left to right the group is: Anne, Stephanie W, Freda, Ruth (in the front) Lisa, Jan, Joyce, Marlene (in the front), Stephanie H, Kathie, Glenice (in the front) and Colleen.