This rather continues the theme of 16th century England with some variation. Margaret George is a wonderful historical novelist. Her research is meticulous and her books are long and very readable. The first one I read was not from the 16th century, but the first: Mary, Called Magdalene. George sets this novel up in the context of the interesting – and totally credible – scholarship that places the Galilean disciples as part of John the Baptist’s community before they became followers of Jesus. She sets Mary Magdalene as part of the group, a childhood friend of them all. The book moves away from the traditional, misogynist view of Mary as prostitute and places her front and center as an important witness to the life and ministry of Jesus, which is exactly where the Gospel writers Matthew, Luke, and especially John, place her. It is a fascinating read and a really good view of Palestine in the first century.
I’m currently reading Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles, and it is as good a read and as good a history as Mary Magdalene. It’s a great novel, and really clarifies and illuminates that tumultuous time in English/Scottish history. It helped me out a lot, as I’ve always confused Mary Tudor with Mary Stuart – she’s the Queen of Scots. I’m only about 20% done with it, but Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles, is hard to put down. Along with the tribulations of this young queen trying to do her best in a very difficult situation, it also lifts up the story of John Knox and the Calvinist influence in Scotland and how powerful that all was.
You can read more about Margaret George at http://www.margaretgeorge.com