Sometimes I wonder, do I really need to read another book about one of the wives of Henry VIII? Well, yes I do. I love the era. Anne Boleyn is one of those historical characters that everyone seems to have an opinion on. She has been pegged as everything from a scheming witch, to a martyr. She has been called ambitious, brilliant and a whore. Which Anne do you think is really representative of who the real person was? Each story I read about her sets a slightly different picture. Anne Boleyn in Margaret George's take was a shrieky, flighty, nasty woman. Anne Boleyn in Phillipa Gregory's book was a bit of a crass, ambitious feminist. In this book, Anne Boleyn is a much more sympathetic character. She is charming and it is easy to see how Henry VIII would have fallen for her.
The story itself centres around a young girl named Frances who comes to Lady Boleyn's rescue. The timing is before the marriage of Boleyn and Henry VIII. In return, Anne Boleyn takes Frances into her court. She trains Frances, raising her stature (paralleling how Anne herself comes from nothing and is raised up in stature). Along the way Frances meets a man of Henry's court, Jack Carlyle, who watches out for the naive girl. Though Frances is annoyed, she can't get Jack out of her mind. The rest of the novel follow Frances as Anne Boleyn goes on to marriage, motherhood and ultimately meets her tragic end.
Is this the best book I've read in this time period? No. But it is a nice take on Anne Boleyn's life. I like that she has more sympathy in this story. I do believe that she was ambitious. She was smart. Unfortunately, nature and the ways of court got her in the end. (I really hope no one reading this echos a young woman I heard commenting after seeing The Other Boleyn Girl, "I knew she'd get it in the end" - ummm, yep, kind of a given really, can't change history that much).