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Mary of Carisbrooke: The Girl Who Would Not Betray Her King Paperback – Mar 1 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition (March 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402255950
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402255953
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 13.5 x 20 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #354,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Mary of Carisbrooke Aug. 19 2011
By MSEreads - Published on
Format: Paperback
A beautifully written tale blending sweetness and sadness.

Mary is a quiet girl of 17 with a sunny disposition and a helpful nature. Her father is the Sergeant of the Guard at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. Mary helps her Aunt Druscilla who is the housekeeper of the small household. Although they have to deal with the soldiers who came recently from London, the political struggles between the Cromwellian Parliament and King Charles I mean little to Mary and the other Islanders.

Mary's quite life changes when the King, with several faithful retainers, escapes from Hampton Court, and seeks refuge at Carisbrooke Castle. Although the King and his supporters thought he was being granted sanctuary, the Governor is a staunch "servant of Parliament" who promptly sends word to Parliament for instructions on how to handle the King's `visit.'

The story portrays Mary's dedication, gentleness, caring nature and quiet courage. She serves the King with dignity not only as a laundress but also by becoming involved with the intrigue of passing secret letters, planning and helping with escape attempts. Unfortunately, poor planning, problems and betrayal beset the escape efforts and one by one the King's friends are removed from him. Mary becomes a source of comfort listening to his distress and trying to encourage him.

All of the King's men, old and young, find Mary's innocence and steadfastness to be charming. Mary blossoms into womanhood responding to the warm friendship of Harry Firebrace, the Groom of the Bedchamber. One of the other servants of the King, Richard Osborne, who has a bit of a reputation, tries to warn Mary to protect her heart. Meanwhile Mary is threatened by the unwanted attentions of the leering Captain Rolph who is fiercely ambitious and opposed to the King.

The author does a wonderful job setting the tone as I felt a sense of sadness and tragedy even though I did not know how the King's story would end. The characters are developed with unique depths that make them very real, whether likeable or detestable. Some of the characters are caught in the political machinations and their ambivalence is conveyed as they are caught between official duty and private feelings.

The book started a bit slowly but I think that is part of the somber ambiance. It soon picked up and the intrigue, dangers, and personal relationships kept me engaged and wanting to know what happened to the King and to Mary. There are plenty of rich details creating a vivid picture of the Isle and Castle. These enhance the smooth flow of the story. If you enjoy historical fiction don't miss this tender story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Read April 27 2011
By LAS Reviewer - Published on
Format: Paperback
If a king were in danger, what would you do to help him? Mary of Carisbrooke, a book by Margaret Campbell Barnes, addresses this question, and in quite an entertaining way. This book is a wonderful historical fiction with a touch of romance.

Mary is a quiet girl working in a castle when her king, Charles I of England, is brought there and imprisoned. Her character is memorable, fully fleshed out with a history, hopes, dreams, love and disappointment. She is so innocent but yet courageous, admirable for the actions she takes in the name of doing what she thinks is right. Some tragic things happen to Mary, and I kept turning pages to find out how she would get through them. Her first love comes into the picture and is developed with a surprising twist. Something unexpected happens.

The writing flows with elegance as the story unfolds. The setting of a mysterious castle is the perfect place for the themes of misfortune, courage, and hope to come about. Some things are universal, some human characters seen throughout the ages, and the author shows this while expertly holding on to the world of the seventeenth century. The characters are relatable. Sides are chosen. Some die for it. Others have their happy endings. Mary's fate is surprising and pleasing.

Readers who know the history of Charles I of England know if the escape attempts are successful or not, but even with this knowledge, there is still great suspense in the story. What happens to those who help the king? Charles's character is written well, giving a glimpse into his human side and inspiring a great empathy for him and his family.

With an intelligent and clear writing style, the story is timeless, a recommended read for fans of historical fiction with a dash of romance.

Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Good Read from Campbell Barnes June 16 2011
By H. Rieseck - Published on
Format: Paperback
This story was as much a coming of age story as it was a tale of Charles I while at Carisbrooke Castle. Our main character is Mary, who has lived at the Castle her entire life and can never imagine living anywhere else. The Isle is her life. When Charles I and his entourage show up there looking to hide out she is quickly enveloped in a life very different from what she is used to - a world of intrigue, daring-do, and political machinations. We get to see Mary grow from a very naïve young girl to a young woman who knows what she wants and can take matters into her own hands. I didn't think I was going to like Mary at the beginning of the novel but she grew on me. I think once we got past the super naïve girl I began to enjoy her more. During the story she experiences her first taste of falling in love and her first heartbreak. These scenes were very sweet and developed in a believable manner.

I had never read about King Charles I before this book and I really didn't know what to expect. All I knew was that he was eventually executed. The end portion of his reign is covered in this novel - from the time of his escape to Carisbrooke to his execution. I would have liked to have been given a little bit more background for context purposes to know what led to the divisions between the King and Oliver Cromwell. It was sort of that he just showed up there and you were thrown into it. In terms of the King as a character, he was more of a passive character. All of the other book characters are working to save/rescue him and have conversations about him, but his active role in the novel is rather small. This book was written with a sympathetic view of the King in mind.

This wasn't a very heavy novel but it was full of intrigue and plots of escape that made it a fun read.
An Interesting Character Nov. 1 2013
By Laura - Published on
Format: Paperback
A decent book. It wasn't my favorite of Barnes's books, but it was fairly interesting and I liked Mary as a character. I would recommend to fans of Barnes, but not necessarily to others.
Good Jan. 4 2013
By Eileen Johnson - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was good and I would read another by the same author. It had the history, but was a light plot.