“It is no small thing, this, for a woman: freedom.”
Frankly this book was fascinating. I don't read historical novels so this was a new genre for me. Sure, some of it was invented of course, the author only has so much to go on, but I think she did pretty well with her own inventions blending with historical facts. Thanks to the back of the book, and if you know anything about the history of it at all, you know who will marry who and what will eventually happen. Still, it was not repetitive and the plot was well-paced. Gregory does a good job creating suspense with events when many know what will happen anyway. The blend of religious growths and cycles, political maneuvering, and the inner workings of the kingdom and select group created a dynamic, engrossing story.
I took a brief break from reading it last night to do some research on the wives of Henry VIII, as it spurred my curiosity for what really went down.
At first when reading the book I was annoyed by the often changing of viewpoints, but this became easier in time. All the characters were fascinating in their own ways, and my heart felt more for Anne. They all shared traits, but differences as well, connected to each other in various ways, responsibilities, and betrayals.
I have no idea if Henry was as stated in the book at that time - I imagine much of it is likely. I have to consider too that with how sick he was in the book, and how this was backed up by research when I did it, that it must have played a large part in his growing madness, moodiness, and severe actions. To have your leg slowly rotting for years and the painful things they had to do to it, the gout and chronic constipation, the rotting teeth (yech!), and all the ongoing politics constantly surrounding the kingdom, it's less of a surprise.
There is violence in the book but it's more mentally disturbing than visceral, and there's not much of it. The ending is dramatic and well played, leaving a hollow feeling but sticking as close to the source material as you should.
Again not something I usually read, so I'm delighted it was so engrossing, well-written in a lovely literary style, engaging with plot twists, bizarre hidden layers of people involved, and surprises.
“I have learned the power of surviving.”
“If it has to be done at all, it must be done with grace.”
“He is a young man with a future of power and opportunity and we are young women destined to be either wives and mothers at the very best, or spinster parasites at the worst.”
Extras from Author's Site: