Friday, September 18, 2009

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table:Featuring Marie from The Burton Review with Guest Post

The Burton Review: Q & A with Marie. Be sure to check her out today she is also having a giveaway of a Anne Boleyn book by Robin Maxwell. She also is having guest posts by Robin Maxwell (My Favorite) and Michelle Moran (hopefully a new favorite).

: What drew you into the world of Historical Fiction?
A co-worker gave me 'The Other Boleyn Girl' by Philippa Gregory 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 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.

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 and, 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!!
Jean Plaidy 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 Victoria Holt: 'My Enemy The Queen'. I also enjoy Sharon Kay Penman 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.

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 Rosalind Miles, 'The Lady Elizabeth' by Alison Weir, '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!!

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event

Me and Anne Boleyn

(And the Quest for GOOD Historical Fiction on Anne)

by Marie Burton of The Burton Review

Elizabeth I, and her mother, Anne Boleyn; Amazing similarities! 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

Anne & Henry's Marriage, See Poor Wolsey on the right, he is traumatized! 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.


  1. Great article on Anne Boleyn, Marie, and thanks for mentioning The Anne Boleyn Files.

    I haven't read all of the historical fiction out there on Anne Boleyn but from what I have read my favourite is Jean Plaidy's "Murder Most Royal" because for a book that is 60 years old it is incredibly accurate and I feel as if Anne is just going to walk off the pages. I didn't like The Other Boleyn Girl but it is one of the reasons why I'm on a mission to find out more about Anne and educate others, so I have to give it some credit!

    By the way, great blog Lizzy!

  2. Great interview! I have read many of the books on Anne Boleyn that you mentioned.

  3. Loved the interview.
    The thing with Anne Boleyn is ...What is true? What is not true? The very little I know of her does not have me liking her much yet, I still want to know more. *shrug*

    Thanks for going over a few of the books out there on Anne. It can be hard at times to discern which book to read first and when.

    Question for you:
    What changed for you when you started "blogging seriously about HF"? what did you do differently?

    BTW: I have the Sharon Kay Penman books that you mentioned on my to-read list. I look forward to reading them.

  4. To respond to Ibeeeg's Question:
    -What changed for you when you started "blogging seriously about HF"? what did you do differently?

    I simply had to make a decision to
    weed out the non-HF Genre reads, because I wanted to personally read more HF. There are many many many many book bloggers out there that are "General" and I didn't want to just blend in. I was not happy reading all different genres all the time which I did for a month, and my passion is for HF so that's what would shine through for my blog.
    The other reason is that the other Historical Fiction bloggers that I have come to know, {specifically Lucy, Arleigh, Amy, and now Lizzy, Heather, Allie, & Susie..} are a fantastic group of ladies and I feel at home blogging along with them. We are a great group if I do say so myself, and they make me eager to write more reviews for books that they would all enjoy in the HF Genre.
    Thanks for asking!

    And thank you to my lovely commenters here as well, I do love comments just like any other "regular" blogger LOL =)

  5. MArie!!! What a great post and interview! You've given us such a complete array of books and reviews elaborating on Anne! I so enjoyed this post that encompassed your views on the lady, her life, the authors, the books written on her and the reviews...What a treat for all Boleyn fans! Thank you so much:)

  6. Wow - you are really full of knowledge and information. For me,
    it is the book covers that pull me in. Most are so beautiful:-)

    Great interview and info. Thanks!

  7. Loved reading this! I plowed through all of Gregory's Tudor books last year and then watched Showtime's Tudors and Anne of 1000 days and any other Tudor material I could get my hands on. There are some new to me books here that I'm going out to get right away.

  8. I love Plaidy, she just makes sense. I know it is crazy that the novels are so old but are still so tasty. Every novel I read by her I love. Thank you Anne Boleyn Files!

    I too want to read Sharon Kay Penman books and now that I found out Marie loved them, that means they have to be good.

    Marie this is a great treat for Anne Boleyn lovers, I love the side by side comparisons. They look so much alike.

    I too enjoy Historical Fiction covers they tend to be so beautiful that I am always going to be drawn to them.

    I also plowed through Gregory's novels this last year. My favorite ended up being one I never would have guessed "The Queens Fool", it surprised me. Then I went to Tudors and devoured all I could get my hands on Henry VIII is so HOT!

    I found Marie's choice in novels very interesting because I have read about half and the other half it is like she knew they were on my Amazon wish list, I swear she has like ESP or something!

    Great Job Marie it turned out so nice!

  9. Thanks again for all your lovely comments :)
    Lizzy~~ talk about ESP.. you & I seem so similar! I also really enjoyed The Queen's Fool, even though it was told by "an outsider" that Gregory made up, I loved the story very much. It really made it seem plausible that this is how a person felt, in reality, during those scary times with Bloody Mary on the throne.

    Another sad, very sad, fact about me is that I have roughly 70 of Plaidy's books at home, yet I've only gotten around to reading abot 8 of them. !! It beckons me every single day though!

  10. I wish I could say I had that many of her novels I have a little over ten and read half of them.

  11. Wow....this makes for a great TBR may take all winter to get thru the ones I want to read.


  12. Wow Marie - I have almost every book you mentioned in that great post! I have somewhere in the mid teens at my last Plaidy count and have only read 3 or 4. Thanks for mentioning my review of The Secret Diary - I think that was my favorite review to write.

    Lizzy - those were some awesome interview questions - really make Marie think!

  13. This is fantastic Marie! And thanks for linking one of my reviews :) I have read many of the books you listed and there are so many different views on Anne. Plaidy's The Lady in the Tower remains my favorite.

  14. What a fantastic guest post! I really enjoyed seeing your list of Anne books, and I've added quite a few to my TBR pile!

  15. Marie,

    It looks like you, I and Alison Weir all have a fondness for Elizabeth I. I have read one of Weir's non-fiction books on Elizabeth. She is a great writer. You mentioned Sharon Kay Penman...she is a master of historical fiction. I have several of her books. Great interview!

  16. Come by my blog and pick up your award!

  17. I am glad everyone enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed working with Marie to get it together. Looking forward to next years.

    Nikola, I am heading there now and Thank you!

  18. Great interview with well-thought questions. I love this period and very much enjoyed reading what you had to say. I still have a long ways to go when it comes to reading about this time period.

    Thank you,


  19. I could have sworn I already commented on here...I know I read it, but I can't believe I didn't congratulate the two of you on an awesome interview and guest post!

    Marie, I've read many of the books you mentioned, but not all. I have The Boleyn Wife waiting for me on my shelf. I read The Lady in the Tower by Plaidy and started Murder Most Royal but it seemed almost like a repeat of TLITT so I put that one aside for a while. I also loved Lucy's post about A Lady Raised High, and will most definitely be checking that one out as well.

    Great job you two!! xo

  20. psst
    Lizzy.. in response to your Email, THIS post is an example of what I was referring to.. this was the "original" Round Table feature that we began & these interviews etc are what we are going to feature again for BBAW week as well.


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