Review: Mary of Carisbrooke by Margaret Campbell Barnes

by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Publication Date:  April 1, 2011


The moving, tragic story of Charles I, the last absolute monarch of England, during his imprisonment in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. Richly drawn and inspired by the New York Times bestselling author's own experience living on the Isle of Wight, this dramatic retelling brings to life the cavalier king whom Cromwell deposed. But even more fascinating than the account of royal hopes and misfortunes is the tale of a charming servant girl who is as romantic and tender in love as she is bold and resourceful in plotting the king's escape.


Mary of Carisbrooke takes place during the English Civil War and captures the period of time when King Charles I fled to Carisbrooke Castle on the Island of Wight hoping to find sanctuary after escaping from Hampton Court, yet finding himself imprisoned once again.

Soft-hearted and kind, Mary Floyd was raised at Carisbrooke Castle with her father, a sergeant of the garrison and her aunt. Mary’s humdrum life is instantly changed once Charles I arrives on the unsuspecting island and she soon finds herself acting as royal laundress to the king. Being the same age as the king’s daughter, Charles takes a liking to Mary and he often talks to her of his despair at being apart from his family whom he adored. Mary’s heart aches for his plight and so becomes embroiled in smuggling correspondence both to and from the king to his supporters and family members. When the king’s safety is endangered by a plot to assassinate him Mary conspires with the king’s men to find a way for him to escape Carisbrooke Castle, risking her life and the well-being of her family.

While I found the story of Mary of Carisbrooke interesting, I can’t say that I was all that engaged with it. There just wasn’t enough action or drama to keep my attention and I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I’ve enjoyed previous reads by Margaret Campbell Barnes in the past and I will definitely continue to read her, but this novel just fell a little flat for me.



  1. I was that way too - it was good but I found I could put it down and come back to it.

  2. I haven't read any books from this time so I'll keep it in mind!

  3. I have read about Charles I but this is another aspect of his life which I did not know.

  4. Oh no! I have this one ready to be read on my nightstand :(. It sounds so good....thanks for the heads up though!

  5. Thanks for the review. This is a piece of history I need to know more about. This may or may not be the way to do it.


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