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Mary of Carisbrooke: The Girl Who Would Not Betray Her King [Paperback]

Margaret Campbell Barnes

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Book Description

March 1 2011
Margaret Campbell Barnes has been one of the most reliable of England's historical novelists.' - Chicago Tribune

' A Girl, A King, and the castle that changed them both Forever... '

Charles I, king of England, thought that Carisbrooke Castle would be safe, an Isle of Wight refuge far from the madding crowd of Cromwell. But Charles ran straight into the arms of betrayal, his retreat morphing to prison and his allies few and far between.

Mary, a quiet servant girl in awe of her king and country, vaults into intrigue and danger as she helps to plot the king's escape.

A moving story of royal hopes and misfortunes, Mary of Carisbrooke is at its heart the tale of a charming girl who is as romantic and alluring as she is smart and bold. Loyal to herself and to the Crown, Mary's brush with history reveals just how quickly fate can shift the paths ofpower.

Praise for Margaret Campbell Barnes
'Barnes vividly depicts Anne's hopes and fears in an age where royal marriages were brokered like a cattle fair, and beheading could befall even a Queen.' - Publishers Weekly on Brief Gaudy Hour

'Rich in detail and flows beautifully, letting readers escape into Anne's court and country life. It is a must read for those who love exploring the dynamic relationships of Henry VIII and his wives.' - Historical Novels Review on My Lady of Cleves

Frequently Bought Together

Mary of Carisbrooke: The Girl Who Would Not Betray Her King + King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew All Their Secrets + Tudor Rose: The Story Of the Queen Who United a Kingdom and Birthed a Dynasty
Price For All Three: CDN$ 32.51

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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: 20.3 x 13.7 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #331,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A beautifully written tale blending sweetness and sadness.

About the Author

New York Times bestseller Margaret Campbell Barnes, now deceased, wrote several historical novels, including Brief Gaudy Hour, My Lady of Cleves, King's Fool, The Tudor Rose, Within the Hollow Crown, With All My Heart, Isabel the Fair, The King's Bed, Lady on the Coin, and Mary of Carisbrooke. Her novels have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mary of Carisbrooke Aug. 19 2011
By MSEreads - Published on
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read April 27 2011
By LAS Reviewer - Published on
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
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Character Nov. 1 2013
By Laura - Published on
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars 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.
3.0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing Story Of A Young Woman Loyal To Her King Aug. 7 2011
By Colleen T. - Published on
I originally review this book for the blog Luxury Reading.

In 1647 Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland, being imprisoned by the Cromwellian Parliament in hopes of forcing the king into reforms, escaped to the Isle of Wight. Having fond memories of this traditionally royalist island and believing he could find safety there, he brought the turmoil of the mainland to the doorstep of a group of people who were much sheltered from the goings on in London and abroad. While he was mistaken that escape could be found there and was subsequently imprisoned once again by Parliament in Carisbrooke Castle, he did in fact find a loyal group determined to see the king come back into his divine rule. One such person was Mary of Carisbrooke.

Mary, barely seventeen, had always loved her sleepy, happy island life and never dreamed of leaving it as so many of her friends had. She was quite content to work alongside her aunt and under the close, loving attentions of her father at Carisbrooke Castle. When the king first appeared, she was shy but kind and honest and soon endeared herself to the new mainland men that followed in the king's train as she had to those who already knew her well.

When her aunt became the King's Laundress and she, in turn, her assistant, she found herself in a particular position to assist the king and his cause in a way unthought of before. As the intrigue, danger and drama that could only be found in the turmoil of a country's civil war unfurled around her, she learned to use her given gifts of bravery, loyalty, insight and natural benevolence to attempt to change the outcome of history. At the same time, she learned about first love, first loss and what it really meant to live.

Beginning this book, I didn't know much about the history behind its events other than the eventual downfall of King Charles I. From the beautiful cover and description, I had a mental image of our heroine to be about twelve years old. Upon reading that she was seventeen I had to change my initial mindset of a young girl ahead of her time to a young woman coming into her own. While the story is well written I found that it dragged through the middle, often bogged down with the numerous plots to help the king escape. Spending so much time concentrating on Mary's devotion and assistance to her king I was disappointed when the final outcome of Charles' death is told to us through a third party. It seemed to be dealt with swiftly and then to continue on to the beginning of the rise of Charles' son, the eventual King Charles II.

The side plot of Mary's first love and heartache also seemed to be dealt with as an afterthought so that I couldn't feel endeared to her budding knowledge of what it means to grow up and become a woman. With this being said, I did find Mary to be an endearing character and enjoyed learning of this important point in history from an unlikely source. Mary of Carisbrooke is definitely worth a read for lovers of historical fiction, but readers who are just branching out into the genre might want to start somewhere else.

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