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At the Mercy of the Queen

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,509 ratings  ·  172 reviews
A sweeping tale of sexual seduction and intrigue at the court of Henry VIII, At the Mercy of the Queen is a rich and dramatic debut historical about Madge Shelton, cousin and lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn.

At the innocent age of fifteen, Lady Margaret Shelton arrives at the court of Henry VIII and quickly becomes the confidante of her cousin, Queen Anne Boleyn. But
Paperback, 432 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,509 ratings  ·  172 reviews

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Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

"I wish I'd liked this more" were my first thoughts upon finishing, and being incredibly disappointed by, this Tudor-era historical fiction. For all its attempts to do something new within the uber-popular Tudor-prevalent historical fiction genre, this is a totally unmemorable effort. Perhaps "I wish this had just been better" would be closer to the mark with how I feel regarding this novel. The dialogue, the characters, the historical anachronisms -- all were j
Rick F.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"A sweeping tale of sexual seduction and intrigue at the court of Henry VIII, At the Mercy of the Queen is a rich and dramatic debut historical about Madge Shelton, cousin and lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn."

With the many Historical fiction books written about Anne Boleyn and her times...comes another- so very original and well written!! At the Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Anne Clinard Barnhill
has earned a place at the top of historical novels of the era. Anne Clina
Although the *catch* of telling Anne Boleyn's tale from a lesser known cousin who was rumored to be one of Henry's mistresses is an interesting one, the writing and historical details are not enough to hold it together and I have yielded at the halfway mark. Historical details aside, the biggest problem this book has is the writing itself. I am smart enough to pick up on the fact that Henry is King and Anne is Queen and don't need it shoved down my throat as it is here. Example (quote from ARC): ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: historical, abandoned
When I first picked this up the glowing reviews made it sound very interesting. How wrong I was! I was bored within the first few chapters and it was hard work to keep going. The characters are very one dimensional with no motivation, other than to showcase the story of Anne Boleyn. Speech has been taken word-for-word from historical documents which got old very quickly. I'm not sure the author has actually read any modern reference books on the subject; her views are very much the typical Victo ...more
Natalie Grueninger
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Barnhill is the story of Anne Boleyn told through the eyes of her young cousin, Madge Shelton. Madge arrives at court as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn but is unfamiliar with the machinations of the Tudor court and relies heavily on the guidance of her mistress.

Madge soon becomes one of Anne’s most trusted confidantes and privy to the queen’s innermost thoughts and feelings. While striving to help Anne keep the love of her king – sacrificing
At the Mercy of the Queen gives an interesting perspective of Anne Boleyn through her cousin, Madge Shelton. Madge is pretty innocent and arrives at court for the first time and becomes a companion and confidant to her cousin, Anne. We first are introduced to Anne while she is pregnant with Elizabeth. I did not really connect with any of the characters. I did like Charles Brandon's illegitimate son, but soon found the story tedious and never picking up.

This is a book I could not get into and di
Though there are other novels of the Tudor period which have far more depth and originality, the book is not without its strengths. The author captures something of the perils of the time, and Anne Boleyn’s always uncertain position. It’s a clever ‘take’ to place this from Madge’s perspective.
Madge Shelton, cousin to Queen Anne Boleyn is chosen to serve her at Court. Shy and socially awkward, her only friends are her nurse Cate, a staunch supporter of Queen Katherine and Princess Mary, and the Court poet Thomas Wyatt. She is annoyed by the constant appearance of Arthur Brandon, bastard son of the Duke of Suffolk, but finds him useful when she fends off the unwelcome attentions of Sir Henry Norris, who is determined to marry her, and has the approval of the King. Anne promises to help ...more
Marie Z. Johansen
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was intrigued by the prospect of reading this book because it presents the oft told story of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn from another perspective - that of her cousin and maid-of-honor, and confidant, Madge (Margaret) Shelton I wondered if there was really another angle that would be compelling enough to make for a good read.

By my 5 star rating you can tell that I found that the book really did offer a fresh, new view. Madge Shelton was in a very unique position in the Court o
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow!! I have just finished At The Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. It was such a delightful book. I love how Anne Boleyn was portrayed in this book....more like the Anne I had pictured in my mind. Lady Margaret Shelton is such a wonderful character in this book. She seemed like a perfect lady in waiting for Queen Anne. She was delightful.....someone that you wanted to follow in the see how things would end. I have read a few books on Anne Boleyn and wondered whether another ...more
Rio (Lynne)
Simply boring. I was hoping Madge's story would bring something new and refreshing to this tale we already know, but sadly it flopped. Margaret was bland, living through the Tudor clichés. The author claims to be a descendant to Madge, so I expected more. Not a romance with a non-existent son of Charles Brandon (if he has a son named Arthur, I can't find any record of him.) Nothing new, simply another author jumping on The Tudor ride. Oh and the "coz" thing, simply annoying.
Colleen Turner
Jul 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Really 3.5 starts. I reviewed this book for

When Margaret “Madge” Shelton’s first cousin, Anne Boleyn, marries Henry VIII, their family’s prospects begin to rise on the tide of the King’s affections. Madge is sent to court as a lady in waiting to the new queen in hopes of helping Anne keep her balance on the precarious throne until she can give the king a son and heir, at which time Anne and her family’s influence over the king will be secure. As she works to serve the queen to the best
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Okay guys, now before you shake your head and say something along the lines of "Not the Tudors again," just listen. I myself have been suffering from Tudor fatigue myself and while this does not mean that I'm at the point where I will not read anymore books about Henry the VIII myself (I love it still but some of the books have been a little... well... blah). If you are feeling that way at all, let At the Mercy of the Queen remind you why so many of my fellow historical fiction fans fell in love ...more
Jenny Q
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
I wanted to have some good things to say about this debut, but 250 pages in I couldn't go any further, and most of the good points I'd been noting for my review were rapidly disappearing. I was very excited to get my hands on a novel about Madge Shelton, a Boleyn cousin and brief mistress to Henry VIII. I think the Tudors are overdone, but a fresh angle on them always catches my attention. Unfortunately, this is really another novel about Anne Boleyn. There is absolutely nothing new here, and An ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: old-world
i will give the author a plethora of credit for the historical accuracy, between actual events and the basics of the time period. beyond that, this was a horrible story. it was a good idea, writing from madge shelton's perspective, particularly as the author is a descendent. however, the plot line is the typical imagined tudor court life, the anne boleyn saga was written twenty times better by many other authors, the writing itself was choppy, and the characters are hardly anything exciting when ...more
Nancy Bilyeau
Dec 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Absorbing historical fiction that looks at the marriage of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII through the eyes of Anne's innocent cousin, Margaret Shelton. This novel pulls off the very challenging task of depicting
Anne Boleyn as a real person with great allure and a strong personality but not a caricature of a femme fatale or an innocent victim. Margaret gets caught up in the rivalries and intrigues of a dangerous court. She is not sophisticated and rapidly gets in over her head. She is a sympathetic
Christy English
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a good book. Drawn once more into the world of Anne Boleyn, I found myself rooting for Madge Shelton and for her innocence. It is rare to find a voice of innocence in the midst of the court of Henry VIII. Even as Madge falls deeper and deeper into the politics that surround her, she manages to hold onto herself and to her own hope for the future. I enjoyed this novel. I am a fan of innocence. Anne Barnhill's Madge reminded me a little of my own Alais.
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It was written in a style that was easier to follow than many written about this time period. Telling it from the point of view of Queen Anne Bolyn's lady in Waiting was an interesting idea and offered some interesting insights to her life. I look forward to more books by Anne Clinard Barnhill. Wonderful, easy read!
Carol Storm
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Meg Cabot meets the Tudors! Great look at the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, as a typical seventh grader might see it. Shadow says this one's a real "dog." Woof!
Brooke Lago
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Let me start by saying I have read a ton of historical fiction- Phillipa Gregory, Jean Plaidy, Sandra Byrd, etc. I am not new to this genre.

I picked this book up at the library thinking it would be very interesting to read a novel from the point of view of Madge Shelton. I hadn't read anything from her POV before so I thought it would be very fresh.

It was not. I mean, it kind of was. Her pov was new and her character was fresh. But other than being very loyal to Queen Anne and feeli
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
A sweeping tale of sexual seduction and intrigue at the court of Henry VIII, At the Mercy of the Queen is a rich and dramatic debut historical about Madge Shelton, cousin and lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn.

At the innocent age of fifteen, Lady Margaret Shelton arrives at the court of Henry VIII and quickly becomes the confidante of her cousin, Queen Anne Boleyn. But she soon finds herself drawn into the perilous web of Anne’s ambition.

Desperate to hold onto the king’s wani
Viviane Crystal
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Lady Margaret Shelton, or Madge as she is known throughout the novel, arrives at the Court of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Madge is 15, close in age to Anne, who is soon to wed Henry. For Henry's late Queen has been put aside, Henry has formed his own Church of England after splitting with Rome over his soon-to-be-Queen Anne. It's a dangerous time for all but the King, who revels only in a reign that gathers more and more wealth from the old Church, delightful food and drink, and of course h ...more
Mindy McGinnis
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A fresh perspective on the tragic tale of Anne Boelyn, AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN is told from the viewpoint of Lady Margaret Shelton, the younger cousin of Queen Anne and an ancestor of the author.

"Pretty Madge," as Margaret is called, is called to the court of Henry VIII to be a queen's lady to her first cousin. At first appalled at the lax morals of the court, Madge soon learns that underneath her flirtations of courtly love, Queen Anne is moral, and more importantly - devout. Her
Cyndi Beane-Henry
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lady Margaret Shelton, known by family as Madge, was called upon to serve in the chambers of the Queen; her own cousin, Anne Boleyn, recently wed to King Henry VIII.

What started as an honor and a privilege few would ever know soon began to have consquences that might very well go beyond what Madge was willing to pay.

At a time of great unrest, Madge must choose between what is safe, what is honest, and pure, and serving her Queen. Even if that meant her life.

Susan O'brien
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was okay and I think a lot of people would enjoy it. It is quick reading for historical fiction and to me feels like Tudor Light. The book centers around the life of Queen Anne Boleyn at court, along with her cousin Lady Margaret Shelton, who becomes a lady-in-waiting at age 15. Sexual tensions abound at court, especially when Henry becomes restless once again because Anne doesn't bear him a son. His roving eye includes Madge, who has a dalliance with him at Anne's request. Much mentio ...more
Nov 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
No. Just... no. It was sub standard to begin with, all of the pieces there but nothing really gelling, then morphed into a straight up bad copy of A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, and then (here's where it went firmly in the 1 Star column) she got some basic facts wrong and I was all, please, I've got better things to do with my time.

Ellen Wiseman
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-pregnant
This was a captivating tale filled with romance, intrigue and a rich cast of characters! Anne Clinard Barnhill does a wonderful job of bringing this dramatic time period to life. I felt like I was Madge, torn between her Queen and the man she loves, living and working inside Anne Boleyn's chambers. I learned a lot about the time period while being throughly entertained! I can't wait to read the author's next book!
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wish the author had a more complex way of writing. One-dimensional plot with flat characters.

There is a bit of what could have been older English words thrown into the dialogue here an there. It didn't work for me.

The book went way downhill and barely readable when sex was involved in the plot. It became painful to read, but it was near the end, so I did push to finish the book.
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Barnhill's treatment of Anny Boleyn is masterful. Madge, her cousin, comes to court to be a lady in waiting and ends as one of the few women Anne trusted. It gives a different viewpoint into the relationship between Anne and Henry.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 04, 2015 10:14AM  

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Anne Clinard Barnhill has been writing or dreaming of writing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has published articles, book and theater reviews, poetry, and short stories. Her first book, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ, recalls what it was like growing up with an autistic sister. Her work has won various awards and grants. Barnhill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Univer ...more