Q: What drew you into the world of Historical Fiction?
A co-worker gave me 'Princes in The Tower, and the mystery of the Princes' fate and who the bad guys could be hooked me also. There was no turning back after that. I googled a lot of stuff and lived on Wikipedia for awhile, and then researched reviews to choose my next HF reads. My Amazon wish list grew by leaps and bounds! My birthday came in July and my dear father responded quite well and thus started my ever growing Tudor History collection.' by in February of 2008. I was amazed at the fact that these were real people! I had to know more, and I then read a few of Alison Weir's books, The Wars of The Roses, and The
Q: How did you start writing book reviews and blogging about them?
I actually wrote reviews on Facebook's application WeRead before blogging about them for a few months. I started my blog in December 2008 as a sort of creative release and distraction after my father had suddenly passed away. After several months of lame reviews that were very focused on my opinion that blended with personal garbage, I started to get a comment or two. I had probably been commenting on other blogs for a little while and then they started to check out who this weird person was, and they found my blog. My first commenter's were Amy from Passages From the Past, Arleigh from Historical-Fiction.com and Royal-intrigue.net, and Daphne from Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff. Those three bloggers were my inspiration to start creating a more structured blog and not make it personal mumbo jumbo. No one had commented on my earlier personal stuff but when I started blogging seriously about HF Books in March/April, I started getting a following and that was when I got my groove on.
Q: What is your favorite historical period and why?
I will always be fond of the Tudor period. They were my first love, and the second is The Wars of the Roses, both English history. I do hope to expand more into the French Revolution and Napoleon. I've had Catherine Delors book 'Mistress of The Revolution' since March but still haven't had a chance to get to it.
Q:What is your favorite author and novel?
This is the question that everyone HATES to get. There are SO MANY!!
Victoria Holt: 'My Enemy The Queen'. I also enjoy for her Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy that started with 'When Christ and His Saints Slept'. I was completely enthralled by Anna Elliott's book Twilight of Avalon, if her 2nd novel is just as good than she'll officially be my favorite author.would be one favorite author as she was so prolific on ALL of the eras that I want to learn more about. So far my favorite of hers that I have read is actually under her pseudonym
Q: If you could choose to be one HF leading lady, who would it be and why?
Another tough question! Many of the ladies I've read about in the Tudor era have come to tragic ends due to Henry VIII, that old meanie! But his daughter Elizabeth I, was a formidable woman who overcame a lot of adversity through her lifetime to become a respected monarch, and she was a WOMAN who ruled successfully for almost half a century. Her strength, fortitude, intellectual abilities and the fact she dangled would-be lovers by their nose make her a very intriguing person to me. There are still so many books that I have in my library that I long to read about her to help shed light on her personal mind, such as 'I, Elizabeth' by , 'The Lady Elizabeth' by , 'Elizabeth: The Struggle for The Throne' by David Starkey and 'The Wild Irish' by Robin Maxwell, to name a few. So many fantastic historical fiction books, so little time!!
(And the Quest for GOOD Historical Fiction on Anne)
by Marie Burton of The Burton Review
As part of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event, we've had our favorite bloggers posting interviews and guest posts across each other's blogs. Amy from Passages to the Past posted over at Hist-Fic Chick spotlighting one of her favorite royal historical figures, Elizabeth I (above, left). Today I am spotlighting Anne Boleyn (above, right), who was Elizabeth's mother. The similarities shown are amazing!
Those who read historical fiction set in England most likely know the tragic but enthralling story of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne. I am not going to post a biography of her, (you can find all sort of fun things on Anne at The Anne Boleyn Files site) but I am going to highlight key events and what I have learned along the way, so this is my journey with getting to know Anne Boleyn through the world of historical fiction.
Anne was educated in the French courts, which helped her be a bit more superior to the other courtiers in England when she returned home. Anne's sister, Mary Boleyn, was a mistress to King Henry, and bore him an illegitimate son. Some say her daughter was also one of Henry's. One books that I look forward to reading is "Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII's Mistress" by Josephine Wilkinson, which is non-fiction released in April of 2009. Anne's frenchified ways caught the roving eye of King Henry, and they starting courting each other much to the chagrin of the king's advisers. No one wanted to see the Boleyn family rise in the court food chain, it was their Howard relations who had given them the rank they had. After seven years of a seemingly happy courtship, Henry and Anne were married in early 1533, even though the people of England did not want Henry to cast aside their Queen Catherine. But that is what he did, and the debate rages on to this day whether or not Anne had bewitched Henry into marrying her. Contemporaries certainly did not shed any favorable light on the new Queen Anne, instead they called her a witch, rumored her to have a sixth finger and a wart or devil's mark. I first met Anne Boleyn in "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory, and later watched the film, which were told more from the sister Mary's point of view. And I can't say that I liked Anne very much. I didn't feel bad for her, I did not have mixed feelings about her. But the book was my introduction to Tudor History, and I wanted to know more in general about Henry VIII. Margaret Campbell Barnes is an author of several Tudor novels, and her "Brief Gaudy Hour" was one centered on Anne. In that one she is depicted as evil and shallow, see the review on Historical-Fiction.com.
A book that has caught my eye because it is from 1957 is "Anne Boleyn" by Evelyn Anthony. This seems to tell Anne's story when she was younger and when Henry becomes smitten with her. When Anne finally gets her way and marries Henry, Anne realizes she has a long road ahead of her if she wants to win over the people. But she has indeed won over Henry, and all she has to do to keep that love is to provide him with an heir. But seven years is a long time to wait, (and be abstinent?) and Henry was not getting any younger. Anne was probably pregnant when they married, and proclamations were later being made which referred to their unborn child as "prince." Although the people loved Catherine as their Queen, they knew that England needed and heir. That book mentioned above also has mixed reviews, perhaps because of historical inaccuracies, which were more common than in today's modern times. Moving onwards to the novel of Anne Boleyn and a woman in the household, we have Suzannah Dunn's "Queen of Subtleties." With a mixed narrative between the two women, the story was lost along the way according to some reviews. I have this on my shelf and intend to read it for myself. There is a review here by author Brandy Purdy of this novel, which also addresses the problems with the modern language used in the novel.
When Anne fails to produce a living son for Henry after the birth of their daughter Elizabeth, Anne was brought up on false charges of adultery and incest, and was beheaded in 1536. Her daughter Elizabeth was about 3 at the time and probably did not have much of a memory of her. In Robin Maxwell's first novel "The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn" the premise is that Anne kept a secret diary for her daughter, Elizabeth, so she is now on the throne reading her mother's diary and we as the reader see a rare glimpse into Elizabeth's feelings. The reviews on this are also varied, but more readers rated it higher up on Amazon. The Maiden's Court gave this one a high rating, see review, and mentions that Anne is portrayed in a sympathetic light. Maxwell also wrote "Mademoiselle Boleyn" which is told from Anne's point of view, and highlights Anne's coming of age; this book received favorable reviews on Goodreads. I have the first book, and still have to acquire the other. (You can enter to win BOTH of these reads on my blog today at The Burton Review!)
Enchanted by Josephine has just reviewed A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Tudor Women Series) by Laurien Gardner which I am also waiting to read, and she enjoyed this one as another story that is told by a lady-in-waiting of Anne. A favorite author of mine, Jean Plaidy, has written "Murder Most Royal: The Story of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard" which is another with mixed reviews. Sometimes Plaidy's reads can be dry, and others are very engrossing.
When one thinks of books on Anne Boleyn, it is inevitably about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. Much of the reason for the fall of Anne was Henry's advisers, because of Anne's stubborn ways, but onlookers at court could have also had a part. Anne's sister-in-law, Lady Jane Rochford, was one who was said to have testified to the fact the Anne and her brother George had sexual relations. George was beheaded for this crime before Anne was. What is the story behind Lady Jane? Did she really believe herself regarding the accused incest or was she just jealous? In a reissue of "Vengeance is Mine", author Brandy Purdy will update this book for January 2010 with an updated version titled "The Boleyn Wife", which explores Lady Jane's views as she herself finally awaits the axe, and includes the reigns of five of Henry's queens.
While I want to know all I can about Anne Boleyn, I don't mind the fudging of facts to get a story going for me. But when I want just the facts, that's what non-fiction is for. I have Eric Ives' biography "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn", (2004) and after reading not so good reviews on Carrolly Erickson's "Mistress Anne", I think I will read Ives' book first. At 480 pages, it looks even thicker than that, so it has been sitting on my shelf for when I have a good two weeks to devote to it. But when I am looking for a wonderful book to get lost in the drama, I am going to go with some of the aforementioned novels. But where to begin? I think that all of these mentioned have merit. I would love recommendations on novels that you have read about Anne Boleyn and her family.