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Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court—and to convince the whole court they’re lovers—she accepts. Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice—but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart’s desire and the chance to make history.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published May 9, 2013

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Katherine Longshore

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 223 reviews
September 29, 2013
Actual rating: 3.5
I’m afraid I was wrong. Wrong about Mary, who never wanted to be better than anyone else; she just wanted to be herself.
I’m afraid all the things I’ve said and done will hunt me down and haunt me. Because the thing I’m afraid of is the same thing I told the king would make me happy. The thing I’ve been pursuing through the forest of my own life.
This book wasn't what I anticipated. It was still good---it just didn't head in the direction I thought it would. Come on now, Anne Boleyn? Arguably the most famous of Henry VIII's wives? The woman was was made the scapegoat for Henry's formation of the new Church of England? The seductress who won a king's heart?

Really. Look into my eyes and tell me you're not utterly fascinated by this woman. If you say no, you're a lying liar, and we are no longer friends.

This book didn't fit into my expectations of it because it was so much about character development, and compared to other books I've read, Henry VIII played such a minor role. This book was about Anne's initial arrival at court, in disgrace from her antics at the French court, in pain, in absolutely uncertainty about her future, and with a whole lot of growing up to do. There really is not a lot of plot to this book, the character development and family dynamics is what made this book shine. Knowing Anne's history, this was a somewhat bittersweet read.

There is also a whole lot of romance, insta-loves, love---I don't even want to say triangle, because it's more of a love hexagon, not to mention adultery. Despite everything, it didn't bother me that much, because it was fitting given the time and the context. There are a lot of love interests, a lot of courtship, a lot of flirtation, and almost none of it relevant to who we know will win in the end. Really, that's my main complaint about the book.

Maybe that was the point of the book, to let the reader know that Anne was Anne before she was Henry's infamous lover, but for a book about Anne's development during her initial meetings with Henry and throughout his initial infatuation of her---Henry's interest and Anne's interactions with him were just not believable. Henry's growing infatuation with Anne as she grows into herself was so weak and so poorly depicted as to be almost nonexistent. And despite Anne's overwhelming crush on Henry...and he does cut a pretty attractive figure in his youth:
The red of his hair shone against his black velvet cap, echoed in a more subdued shade by his beard. He was dressed all in crimson and cloth of gold, with jewels at his throat and crossing his chest, on his cap and encrusting his fingers.
But it wasn’t the gold that dazzled me. And it wasn’t the jewels.
It was the way he wore them. The way they fit the body beneath. Broad chest. Narrow waist. The hard edge of the muscles in his leg beneath the stockings. And he towered above us, especially the lame and stocky Claude, who glowed round and sweet like a gilded pudding.

Anne's conversations with Henry and how he came to grow increasingly attracted to her was just inadequately depicted. The sparks flew off the pages far more and far more believably for Anne's alternative love interests.

This book offers a very interesting view on her character. From what we know of Anne, from the numerous accounts and rumors as to her character as "the great whore," the witch, the seductress, I certainly didn't come to expect the Anne we came to meet within this book. Young Anne was not beautiful, not like her sister Mary, who was also King Henry's mistress. Anne is intelligent, well-read, witty, educated. She is independent, she has a lovely singing voice, she plays the lute beautifully. But she is nothing like Mary.
[Mary's] voice is round and delicate, though tuneless.
But Mary is beautiful.
Her skin is naturally pale with just a touch of pink. She has wide eyes, smooth hair the color of freshly cut oak, both of which she got from our mother. I once heard my father remark that I must be a changeling child, as all the beauty on both sides bypassed me.
Anne is flat-chested, slim with no hips, her hair is dark, her complexion not so much pale as it is sallow. Her eyes are so dark as to be completely black. She is not considered attractive.

Anne is an outcast upon her arrival at Henry's court, exiled from France, where she was raised, and where she still considers home---a very, very unpopular opinion, considering the fact that England and France is on the verge of war. Her French fashions, her French hoods, her tendency to speak before she thinks, and her unwanted reputation as Mary's sister does not make Anne any more popular with the people at court.

To say it mildly, Anne is different, with no desire to change. But she knows she has to change; Anne has to cultivate popularity in the court, because she desperately needs a husband, a better one than the man her father wants her to have. James Butler, her intended, is a deplorable man. He is determined to literally beat the life, the living spark, out of Anne once they are married, and she knows it. Anne wants to get married, not because she wants to, but because as a woman, she has no other options than to find a good husband---or rather, one that's less disagreeable than Butler.

Let's face it, Anne's options are extremely limited. As a woman in Tudor time, a good marriage is pretty much the only way out of a worse marriage and a bad family. I do not begrudge Anne's determination to make a good marriage at all. As her brother George so callously and realistically reminded her:
“Don’t make yourself more than you are.” George stands and brushes his doublet. Checks his fingernails. “As a woman, you have no choice. You have to do what your father says. And eventually what your husband says. You can use your feminine wiles to encourage certain outcomes, but at the end of the day, their will is the only will that matters.”
Anne's only worth, sadly, lies between her legs.
I learned early on that my virginity is the only treasure I carry in a royal court. Everything else about me is worthless. Or belongs to my father.
In order to gain popularity at court, the ungainly, gawky, not-beautiful Anne has much to learn. She makes a strategic alliance with the infamous charmer, Thomas Wyatt. He will help her get what she wants---popularity and acceptance, and if she gets it, Anne must come to his bed. Anne is extremely reluctant to make the agreement, but she is running out of time, and Thomas is her only option and ally at court.

Thomas slowly teaches her the graces and the art of seduction. He shows her how to be coquettish, how to attract a man's attention---and keep it. His lessons not only revolve around flirtation, but on courtly behavior as well, as a side lesson in human psychology. Never apologize. Never show weakness. Always be confident.
“When you walk away—and every time you walk away from me—don’t look back.”
Like Orpheus. Like Lot’s wife. Looking back would break the spell.
Anne's character development is wonderful. I loved seeing her transformation. I also absolutely loved the complicated dynamics within her family, I cannot overemphasize that. George and Mary, Anne's brother and sister, are featured prominently in this novel. They are major figures at court, and as such, Anne has ample opportunities to interact with them. We see their family history at play, we get a glimpse into their past, we see how close they were, and how they grew apart at the time. We see the fruits of their overbearing, cruel, manipulative father's behavior on their relationship. We see Anne's love and hate of both her brothers and sister, and her conflicted feelings towards them.

Anne and George's relationship is so interesting. Like a lot of things in this book, it was not what I expected. We have accounts of Anne's extremely closeness with George, but as the years passed, their relationship has changed into a somewhat bitter one. It is not smooth sailing, not a purely loving relationship as I had anticipated from previous Anne Boleyn novels. George loves her---and hates her, for many reasons, none of them simple. Their interaction fluctuates between completely loving---to the point of crossing the boundaries sometimes, to backhanded and backstabbing. Absolutely brilliantly depicted.

I also loved Mary and Anne's relationship. It was a complicated one, because, as we know, Mary was Henry's lover first. As such, Anne has some very strong opinions of Mary, none of it positive. Anne has always envied Mary for her beauty, and for her ability to attract men's attention, from the French king to Henry. Their relationship is a quietly resentful one, but Anne came to change her opinion of Mary as she matures.

A great book for those who love character insights and an intimate portrayal of familial psychology. The plot could use a lot of work.
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
603 reviews87.3k followers
November 11, 2022
This was even more enjoyable than I expected! I read this immediately after finishing with GILT because that was such an easy read, and it didn't disappoint! I actually listened to the audiobook for both and they were super quick, it felt like watching the TV show Reign honestly. I wasn't sure what part of Anne Boleyn's court life this would focus on, but I appreciated that it was kind of a "before" look at things. This read like much more of a romance than the first book did, but it still did a great job of bringing you into the politics of court life in the Tudor era. The modern language might bug some but this is really meant to be more of an entertaining historical read, so it worked for me. Overall, I really liked this one!
Profile Image for Jess.
225 reviews24 followers
June 18, 2013
Where to even begin this review? I have always been fascinated by Henry VIII and his wives, but most especially by Anne Boleyn. I always hope that when I read another book about her it brings me something new to love. Katherine Longshore has not only done that but has completely surpassed my expectations in doing so.

Anne Boleyn. There is so much to be said about Anne Boleyn. There are countless books written about her, both fiction and non-fiction. So why does this one stand out? Katherine Longshore has written a young Anne with the kind of perseverance that is common in many accounts of her, but also with a heart she tries to hide and a sense of insecurity she tries to swallow that is often ignored. In Tarnish, Anne is not a list of character traits, successes, and mistakes. She is a young woman caught up in the wonder of the court of King Henry VIII and all the deception, secrets, and potential it holds. She is trying to make a place for herself where nobody else will. She is trying to balance her desire for power and free-will with her blossoming yearning for love. She is ever growing and learning, for better or worse. She is unfailingly witty and excels at the games she plays, especially when it comes to playing with men's hearts. Despite being mocked and rejected at court and by her own family, her resiliency is impressive. She believes in herself as a woman and as a person, and she doesn't step down to take the easy road. She refuses to be controlled by the wills and whims of the men in her life. Anne Boleyn is so much more than what she is often classified as: a manipulative, power-hungry temptress. Katherine Longshore shows us that other side of her. Tarnish made me fall in love with both Anne and Katherine Longshore's storytelling all over again.

One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed the most, aside from Anne's character, of course, was her interactions with the men at court. Right away it is clear how intelligent she is, and it comes across constantly in her conversations (which often felt more like battles of wit) with her brother, George, and her friend at court, Thomas Wyatt. With both men she has entertaining and smart back-and-forth that can change in an instant from light and humourous to playful and flirty (with Wyatt, at least) to venomous and back again. Sometimes their conversations made me laugh out loud, sometimes they broke my heart, and sometimes they left me thinking about the historical figures I thought I understood, but I always, always wanted more. Watching Anne play the game of Tudor court life with these two men was never dull and I was thrilled to get such an in-depth and exciting look at their relationships and conversations.

I also adored the way King Henry was presented in the novel. So often we picture Henry as he was in his later years; bound to his chairs by injury, growing ever fatter and grumpier. But here we see Henry in his prime; an incredible hunter and dancer, physically fit, and confident in himself. He was a marvel in his prime and it was wonderful seeing that reflected in Anne's view of him. I was thrilled with the timeline Katherine Longshore chose to follow as it really demonstrated Anne's growing attraction to Henry and his growing interest in her at the pace she likely felt it. It was a slow build, but filled with entertaining distractions to keep the plot from lagging. There were moments of tension and setback, but moments of growth and pure elation on Anne's part to help balance the growing relationship out. I often wonder why the Henry we think we know was so interested in a woman who defied him as strongly and openly as Anne did, but Tarnish leaves me with no doubt in her charms and his infatuation. It was a beautiful exploration of Anne's many relationships; both the struggles and the triumphs.

Tarnish absolutely entranced me. I am not one to often find historical fiction boring, but I am also not often completely captivated by the words and the setting and the characters the way I was with Tarnish.
An undeniable 5 stars!

*I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
Profile Image for A.C. Gaughen.
Author 6 books1,837 followers
March 14, 2013
I *know* the history of the Tudor court. I love that history. I know a considerable amount about Anne Boleyn (as an Anne myself, I kind of bonded with her).

Katherine Longshore's GILT showed the wide-eyed waif Catherine Howard to be a manipulative and unapologetic mean girl who arguably got what she deserved. So when I got to TARNISH, about the girl who history seems to argue knowingly and seductively turned the world upside down and changed the course of English history (to say nothing of raising and inspiring Elizabeth I, one of the most effective and interesting leaders of all time in my opinion), I really thought I knew where she was going with it. Younger. Blair Waldorf for the Tudor court.

TARNISH knocked me off my feet. There is an incredibly beautiful, perfectly told, lavishly researched and utterly surprising story in there. Maybe Anne Boleyn wasn't the most famous slut/whore/bitch of all time. Maybe she was a young girl who wanted to belong, who wanted to be loved, who wanted something real and solid that she could count on.

Longshore's Anne is heartbreaking. She's vulnerable, she's sharp, she's witty, and she is so eager and scared. Emotions I felt like I could so deeply relate to. The novel captures the heart of YA because it allows the reader to immediately identify the narrator--in this case, a fascinating and dangerous historical figure.

But then there's this other layer where the author is equally as clever as Anne herself, using a light touch with foreshadowing of events to come (I think in one place she used the word "execution" in reference to a marriage contract, and it literally made me shiver).

This is a deftly written glimpse into the Tudor court, a fresh new history of a familiar subject, and beyond all of that, an utterly engrossing read.

Totally obsessed.
Profile Image for Caroline.
301 reviews56 followers
October 3, 2013
Hoo, boy. And I left Gilt excited for this one.

Once again, I feel that I need to preface my review with a bit of background. I am not patting myself on the back when I say I know a lot about Anne Boleyn. Though no scholar, I've been hooked on this woman's life since I was eleven. She was what got me interested in history, and arguably the trigger for my subsequent passion for feminist study of historical women. I would say that she's tied with Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia for my favorite historical figure, and certainly she's my favorite king or queen.

Anne Boleyn is a much-covered--though very rarely effectively--figure, and she's also extremely difficult to master. To be honest, I'm kind of surprised that Longshore wanted to attempt tackling Anne at all, considering how many passionate opinions exist concerning this one woman.

In my opinion, the best fictional portrayal of Anne was Natalie Dormer's in The Tudors. Though the series was greatly flawed and the first season's version of Anne was flatly written and saved largely by Natalie's acting, the second season saw an amazing creation (again, largely thanks to Natalie interfering and speaking to the writers). Here we saw a woman who wasn't a Protestant martyr or the Great Whore. She was human. She loved deeply and hated deeply; she acted rashly and plotted; she saved some and condemned others. She wasn't always a nice person, but she had a heart and a great capacity for love, and was ultimately tragic.

Katherine Longshore's Anne isn't terribly inaccurate in what she does. Anne did spend a lot of time in France; she did have some kind of thing with Thomas Wyatt, though in reality that "thing" seemed to be much more one-sided than what Longshore portrays; she had another thing with Henry Percy, though I doubt it was as casual or went as far as Longshore's version does. There were a few glaring issues that raised my eyebrows, such as Anne's age and her being exiled for some weird faux pas before the novel's beginning. But as usual, Longshore puts a disclaimer at the novel's end. She was especially honest about Anne's age, which she set back by about six or seven years in order to make the book more accessible for teens.

In terms of personality and characterization, however, I could not believe that I was supposed to buy this "odd girl out" as Anne Boleyn. Anne was different from most court ladies, to be sure. But she was such a consummate courtier that nobody really cared. She said controversial things, but it wasn't the kind of flaw that made her shrink in shame. In fact, the issue was that she wasn't awkward, wasn't gawky, wasn't ashamed. She certainly didn't need to be coached by Thomas Wyatt. She'd been coached by Marguerite of Navarre, by the French court in general. Anne Boleyn was, in many ways, a Frenchwoman, and by nature was anything but the clumsy teenager portrayed here.

Longshore seems to think that in order for the reader to like Anne, she must be declawed, at times anachronistically so. Anne goes on and on about how women are just as good as men, and how come Princess Mary can't inherit? I almost laughed at that bit. The historical Anne's trump card was that she could give Henry a male heir. She had a voice and used it, to be sure, but she was hardly a feminist. She treated Mary Tudor horribly (I say this as someone who loves her) not to mention Catherine of Aragon, both of whom she likely would have wished to see dead. Although Anne loved her daughter, I'm sure that she was disappointed--because, even if she was advanced in some ways, Anne remained a woman of her time. I really doubt she would have thought women capable of anything men could do.

There were lots of weird moments along those lines. Thomas Wyatt's wife is demonized to make him look better. (The entire drama of the Wyatt thing was ridiculous. As if Anne Boleyn fell in love with a poet nipping at her heels. She was far too pragmatic for that.) The phrase "men and women can't be friends" is uttered so many times that I thought I was watching When Harry Met Sally....

Another problem is the Boleyn family's general dynamic. There are all these Breakfast Club-esque scenes wherein Anne and George talk about their daddy issues. Anne expresses disgust at Mary being "prostituted" which is hardly what happened. Thomas Boleyn is this big bad (and yes, he was an asshole, but I doubt Anne acted so much in pursuit of his love). George is a complete dick, which disturbed me as he and Anne were said to be quite close throughout her life.

I could deal with this if I thought that this was perhaps a plausible version of the Boleyns' "younger years" but it just doesn't work. Yes, the novel takes place before Anne's affair with Henry VIII really starts--but not by much. The author also has this odd affection for Jane Boleyn, who, though complex, evidently cared little enough for her husband and sister-in-law that she was fine with sending them to the chopping block. A fascinating woman, indeed, but hardly one that I care to see portrayed as this great friend of Anne's (even in the early years).

Some of the only scenes that I thought recaptured some of Gilt's charm were those of Henry VIII and Anne together, and they were few and far between. I felt that their first moments of attraction were pinned down perfectly--save for Anne's alternating hero-worship and open criticism of Henry. I can't see Anne critiquing Henry so openly in the beginning stages of their relationship. I also couldn't see her going after him for a crush's sake. I think she did grow to love him genuinely, but at first pursued him for advancement's sake. And isn't that sort of woman more interesting than a constant victim who whines about "wanting to be heard"?

Basically, it was a total disappointment--why bother writing about Anne Boleyn if you aren't going to write about Anne Boleyn.

The Cover: Equally boring. I mean, the glossiness is nice and all, but there is literally nothing going on here. Also, the title reminds me of how much Longshore overused the word "tarnish". (I also hate the other cover with Anne's face on the cover; what is with all he faces) 1/5.
Profile Image for Claire Ridgway.
Author 19 books265 followers
May 15, 2013
I'm hard to please when it comes to fiction on Anne Boleyn because I research Anne on a daily basis and spend my time trying to banish the myths propagated by some novels. I have to chant "it's fiction, it's fiction" before I start an Anne Boleyn novel, but there have still been novels that I've had to give up on because they're so far removed from history or they've just plain got on my nerves. Thankfully, Tarnish was one that I enjoyed. There were a few things that niggled me - the characters of George and Thomas, and the fact that Anne was sent back to France after her return to the English court because she shamed her family. I also sighed on the first page when a mention is made of Anne hiding her misshapen finger, but I was relieved when it is explained that Anne actually broke her finger in a childhood accident, it's not an extra finger - hurray!

What I really enjoyed about this novel was the interaction and relationship between Anne Boleyn and poet Thomas Wyatt. Nobody knows the depth of their relationship, whether they ever had a romance or whether it was unrequited love, so it is the perfect topic for an author to explore in fiction. Their relationship starts with a wager: Wyatt promises to help Anne, who's the odd-one-out at court due to her dress, her past and her sharp tongue, advance at court. Her reputation has become 'tarnished' and she needs help, but it's also a game to Wyatt. He believes that if he helps Anne to be accepted at court that "before long in this pretty, showy dance, you will want me in your bed." They make a wager: Anne makes Wyatt promise that he will leave her alone and not "press" her further if he loses the bet and in return she promises to "follow through" if he wins and she desires him. As the nature of their relationship is unknown, this wager adds tension to the book and the reader is desperate to find out where Longshore will take them. What will happen?

I enjoyed Longshore's writing and her characterization. Although Thomas and George grated for me, because they were not how I imagine them to be or how I think they were, I loved Wyatt (OK, I fell in love with him!) and I liked the mixture of strength and vulnerability in Anne's character. It was also good to see a Jane Boleyn who's not spiteful and voyeuristic for a change!

All in all, it was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. It also contains a detailed "Author's Note" explaining where Longshore has used poetic licence and filled the blanks with her own ideas - very useful.
Author 3 books234 followers
January 5, 2013
If you only read one book about Anne Boleyn, let it be TARNISH! Let it be when Anne was young, when her future was uncertain and anything was possible! So many writers focus on the tedious undoing of Anne Boleyn, but here, Katherine Longshore writes a gripping story about the young and hopeful Anne who first arrives at King Henry VIII's court, one in which we desperately wish we could change the future and shout at her, "Nooooooooooooooo!! Don't let the king notice you ... he will destroy you for his own convenience. Choose the man who will love you after the hunt!" But in this beautiful, lyrical novel, Katherine Longshore shows us that in King Henry VIII's court, choice is not always an option ...

Absolutely brilliant!!
Profile Image for Sarah Mac.
1,062 reviews
February 5, 2017
This book is unlike other Boleyn novels. Rather than ending with Anne's execution, Tarnish focuses on the years before Anne marries the King. We meet our narrator as she's returning from exile & trying desperately to gain favor with Queen Katherine -- both for her own sake & the tarnished reputation of her family. In the process she becomes entangled with Thomas Wyatt, Henry Percy, Jane Parker, & her moody brother George...not to mention her older sister Mary, who is currently mistress to Henry VIII. After careful observation of Mary's life, Anne opts for marriage -- not because she's a romantic, but because she wants power & advancement. The problem? Her marriage choices are dim, & they grow dimmer because she makes a dumb decision. But that decision brings her to the attention of King Henry, & their mutual obsessions bring the novel to a close.

Well...we know what happens eventually. :P Historical hindsight makes Anne's calculated triumph all the more poignant -- but she's no innocent when it comes to maneuvering. Her choice is deliberate. And while that choice gives her a sense of possibility at the close of Tarnish, the reader is well aware of how tenuous & bittersweet those possibilities are.

(If that's not the definition of intricate historical fiction, I don't know what is.)

Anne isn't always the most likable narrator, but she's very much a product of her time. She's faced with a variety of unpalatable choices & does the best she can. As opposed to Kitty's role in Gilt, Anne is on the aristocratic end of the Tudor court, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition of concepts between Gilt & Tarnish, particularly the ideas of freedom, power, & lust. To that point, I really liked the way Henry was portrayed -- a powerful, masculine figure who fades in & out of Anne's life, a monarch who is both accessible & unattainable, one who is rarely heard from yet defines so many choices by other characters. Another positive: the groundwork for Anne's eventual (though questionable) charges of infidelity & incest is touched upon within a believable context. (Don't sweep those Tudor melodramaz under the rug, y'all. ;))

As with Gilt, Katherine Longshore takes a handful of footnotes & personal anecdotes to spin a complete tale of who, what, & where could have happened to the real people involved. She gives a closing overview of where her ideas come from, & I'm (still) impressed with the depth she weaves from such little threads. She's constantly shading her characters with good & bad points, both of which play off other personalities via dialogue & the subtleties of court life, which gives a sophisticated depth to the players. Exploration of topics like adultery, political marriages, & court politics create an atmosphere with plenty of drama, both subtle & overt.

Though this author is classified as YA & there's a scattering of teenage angst, the majority of topics are adult. Longshore's style is more ethereal & staccato than historical novelists like Philippa Gregory, which may or may not agree with your reading taste. (For my part, I think she's one of the few who incorporate staccato & first-person-present to enhance the narration & tension, rather than a token effort to be edgy & hip.)

4 stars. I liked Gilt better from a personal POV, but I think this is a more sophisticated & mature novel. Overall it's a very good read with a unique vision of Anne Boleyn -- a (somewhat?) heartless woman who's painted with a gentle hand. Well done, Ms Longshore. :)
Profile Image for Daisy.
680 reviews113 followers
August 25, 2014
So do any of you by chance remember how much I LOVED Gilt?? Because I totally did and combine this with my Tudor obsession and GAH YOU JUST HAVE THE PERFECT NOVEL IN TARNISH!!!

Excuse me while I continue to gush.

I cannot even begin to explain how much I love books of the English court and in particular of Anne Boleyn (and Elizabeth I) because she is SUCH an interesting historical figure! I mean, can you imagine if she'd had a son and lived? How different the world would probably be? I really need to read The Boleyn King in which this turn of events is explored.

I LOVE that Katherine Longshore doesn't villify Anne, as is done in so many of the novels set around these events. Anne is an actual person here and not just a backstabbing, manipulating girl who makes a dramatic rise AND fall. I felt how Anne just wanted to be accepted and mostly just wanted to be seen as a person instead of a sister/daughter to be sold to the highest bidder. And of course every author takes some poetic liberties with the truth, but I really feel that women didn't have much other choice than to try to rule through men and I FELT this.

This is probably why I love Katherine Longshore's books so much, because I actually FEEL what's happening in history and all of the people in it seem to come to life and become real people with goals and emotion and not just flat things on a page. And I LOVE THIS! It's so nice to see Anne's vulnerable side! To see George in a different light than I did in The Other Boleyn Girl and to just see the beginning of Anne's rise to power.

I think this is also the first novel ever to make me care about Thomas Wyatt. I never thought much of him, but in Tarnish this man has hidden depths and is actually swoonworthy! And I KNOW things don't work out, but I was so rooting for him! Even though he's married and it's kinda despicable and yadayada, I KNOW OK and I still loved him.

I also loved that Jane is Anne's friend and not just the horrible person she is depicted as most of the time. She mostly comes on scene in these novels as the jealous, nagging wife and here she actually stands up for Anne. Even though there are some awful moments in which you see how she could evolve to become this person in history.

This one quote nearly killed me:
"I have but a little neck," I tell the king. "It will not hurt if the blow comes clean."


All the events are so bittersweet because I know what actually goes down in history and every time I read about it, I still start wishing things will turn out differently this time, but I know they can't. I liked that Katherine Longshore leaves us with a somewhat happy Anne, at the beginning of her relationship with the king with the whole world open to her and not with the sad events that I know will happen to her later on. All of the hard things she will go through.

Bottom line: I LOVED THIS BOOK! SO MUCH! I cannot even begin to explain the genius that is Katherine Longshore's writing, but I just get all these feelings while reading it and I love to see history come to life and just GAH GO READ IT! ALL OF YOU! You won't regret it, it is AMAZING!

My rating: 5+ stars

Made me crave: strawberries
Profile Image for Amanda.
101 reviews3 followers
November 4, 2017
I tried and failed to like this book.

Anne Boleyn has been my favorite of Henry VIII's wives, and as such I love to read anything about her. But I'm afraid this did not make the book enjoyable at all; rather, it probably made me enjoy it less.

The main problem in this book, just like many YA novels, is the romance. I'm supposed to believe Anne Boleyn is in a love triangle? Granted, this is true to a certain extent, but the way it was portrayed was absolutely ridiculous. I do not think Anne would be the type to swoon over Henry, nor do I believe she fell head over heels in love with Wyatt. Anne was a very ambitious woman, and while she is not as cold-hearted as some books would lead you to believe, she certainly was ruthless. She had to be to reach the throne. The fact that she is shown here shamelessly frolicking about with Wyatt, not seeming to care that he is a mere poet, infuriates me. Anne was all about getting the best marriage possible to elevate herself and her family, and it didn't show in this book. The only part of her character that I felt rung true was her disgust at becoming someone's mistress.

If you really want to read something good and informative about Anne Boleyn, you'll have to get out of the YA side of the library and get into some adult stuff.
Profile Image for Kimberly Sabatini.
Author 1 book375 followers
May 28, 2013
I LOVED Katherine Longshore's debut novel, GILT, and you should get excited because TARNISH is even better! The one thing that kept running through my mind as I read TARNISH, was how hard it must have been to be a woman in a man's world. To have very little, or no control of your own destiny. The thought is frightening. And yet, against the odds, Longshore gives us Anne Boleyn. She wants more. Anne has a spark and it makes me think of her as one part of a long, bright, string of lights. Anne is part of a chain of women through out history, that have helped to shape our role in the world today. But it's not just Anne. Reading TARNISH made me realize that Longshore is another light--one that continues to guide our way.

Katherine Longshore takes history and mystery and weaves it into magic. Irresistible.
June 21, 2013
*Review posted on Page Turners Blog on 6/21/2013*

I think we all know the fate of Anne Boleyn. I keep remembering that clever, little rhyme:

King Henry the Eighth,

to six wives he was wedded.

One died, one survived,

two divorced, two beheaded

Now, I'm also going to admit here that I'm not a big reader of this time period, but I read Katherine’s Gilt and Tarnish in rapid succession. I devoured these books in two days. I know, TWO DAYS! I simply could not put them down. Why? Well, because Katherine’s writing placed me in the midst of all that swirling political intrigue that made the Tudor era so very interesting to historians and romance readers alike. Perhaps most interesting of all, Katherine chose to tell the story of Anne before she met Henry VIII. The story starts with Anne’s return to England from France and a return to a family who is deeply involved with the King’s innermost circle. The interactions between the siblings – Mary, George and Anne – rang so true. The squabbles, the forgiveness and the understanding were incredibly moving and real.

But my favorite moments were between Anne and the poet, Thomas Wyatt. Their level of banter and yes, even snark, made me laugh. They snap, crackled and popped right off the page. Because I didn’t know the historical details of what happened between them, I fell for every nuance of their relationship. Without any spoilers for Tudor-lite readers like me, let me emphasize how very much I loved the two of them, and I have a feeling that most of you who love a will-they-won’t-they romantic plotline will, too.

Tarnish also reminded me of why I adore historical settings. With a setting this well researched, I felt like I fell right in step, alongside the characters. Katherine tells the story of real people with flawed but proud families who are trying hard to get ahead in their world. Sadly, this is a world filled with biases, assumptions and prejudices that made me cringe at times. I’m a firm believer that the best of stories make us think about our own world;Tarnish achieved that mark.

This summer when you get tired of beachy reads and want a story that will make you think while surprising you with its level of swoony romance, pick up Tarnish. Then promise me, you’ll come back here and tell me if you understood Thomas or Henry more, and if you’d follow your heart or your head in matters of the heart.
Profile Image for JeanBookNerd.
321 reviews40 followers
June 10, 2013
Katherine Longshore’s Tarnish takes readers to a different view in the life of Anne Boleyn. The novel brings the interaction and relationship between Anne and poet Thomas Wyatt to the forefront. Even though their relationship remains to be under the scope whether they were actually romantically linked, this part of Anne’s life is the perfect topic for author and reader to fictionally explore. The story focuses on a wager between the two. Thomas believes he can help Anne with her tarnished reputation. If he wins, Anne must follow through with his advances. If he loses, Wyatt must leave her alone for good. Obviously this provides a new light into the life of Anne Boleyn which delivers a story that will ignite intrigue and interest.

Undoubtedly, Anne Boleyn was an important historical figure who was a key figure in English politics and the religious upheaval that started the English Reformation. The story that Katherine has weaved had a beautiful tone laced with amazing writing. After going deep in the first chapter, it becomes obvious that the research performed for this novel was incredibly done.

The Anne Boleyn of this book possessed many emotions and were prominently shown throughout the book. The exposure of her emotions gave the perfect channel for many readers to relate to her. The capturing of Anne’s teenage years was luminously done. As most readers will come into this story with a presumption about Anne, Katherine cleverly throws them out and allows for a fresh start of this former Queen of England.

Although Anne’s life came to a tragic end, this book reminds us that hope is an important belief in life. It is imperative to be heard and the things we believe in are important. The second book in Katherine Longshore’s Royal Circle series, Tarnish, is an exciting insight into the life of one of History’s important figures and delivers a story that is utterly gripping.
Profile Image for Fallon Prinzivalli.
69 reviews44 followers
May 11, 2016
I was thrilled when an ARC of "Tarnish" made it's way into my hands. After loving "Gilt," I couldn't wait to read the second novel—especially when I found out it followed Anne Boleyn's story. She's my favorite of Henry VIII's wives. As soon as I started "Tarnish," I was hooked. You may think you know the story of Anne Boleyn, but before she lost her head at the hands of her tyrannical husband, she was a girl who was determined to make a bright future for herself.

In the second book in Katherine Longshore's "Royal Circle" series, Anne Boleyn is the new girl. Since she's been away in France, everything about her is different—from her clothes to her sharp tongue to her unwillingness to blend in with the rest of the ladies in the Tudor court. She doesn't know how to keep silent and fall in step with a society that revolves around gossip and expects women to be seen and not heard. But when Anne makes a life-altering bet with charismatic poet Thomas Wyatt to escape a loveless, arranged marriage, how she's seen could lead to her demise or rise. She could end up as nothing or she could finally become something.

Katherine brilliantly captures Anne's voice in her teenage years. Often seen as a manipulating home-wrecker, Katherine throws away these labels to give Anne a fresh start with new ones: a dreamer and an optimist with a desire for her words to be heard, for them to have meaning. In the midst of tragedy, Katherine Longshore offers hope—not just for Anne, but for us all. Our voices matter. Our words have meaning. Don't settle for less than you deserve. In the end, yes, it lead to Anne's downfall, but it also, in a way, lead to her immortality.

Profile Image for April.
2,099 reviews950 followers
May 5, 2013
I totally stan for Tudor related historical fiction — ESPECIALLY when it is YA based. Don’t make fun of me, but I totally ate books like The Other Boleyn Girl up. When Katherine Longshore made her debut with Gilt last year, she filled a much needed void in my reading life – that void of compelling, sort of romantic, young adult historical fiction. Actually, last year was kind of a banner year for YA hist fic. Anyways, after reading Gilt I pretty much decided I would be a fan of Katherine Longshore for life. Yet, as we all know, sometimes authors can disappoint you with subsequent books. YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS after being pretty disappointed by a string of duds by authors I like, I was a tiny bit nervous about Tarnish, Longshore’s sophomore book. Turns out, Tarnish is freakin fantastic and one that I closed and practically hugged despite you know, what eventually happens to Anne Boleyn after the events of this book. IT’S SO GOOD MY HISTORICAL LOVING SISTERS IN ARMS, SO GOOD.
Read the rest of my review here
FYI review does not go live until June 17.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,651 followers
October 31, 2013
Having been greatly impressed by Longshore’s debut novel, Gilt, I was eager to get my hands on the sequel, and thrilled when my friend April gifted me her ARC. I read it slowly over the course of weeks, snuck it in between my review commitments. While I do think Gilt held more appeal for me due to the less traveled subject matter, Longshore still brings something new to Tudor historical fiction with Tarnish.

Read the A Reader of Fictions.
Profile Image for Celeste_pewter.
593 reviews147 followers
June 23, 2013
Two-second recap: A fascinating, fictionalized but very in-depth look at Anne Boelyn.

Katherine Longshore is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical fiction writers, and Tarnish only proves what an excellent writer she is. Review to come.
Profile Image for Kelly | xoxo, Kelly Nina.
1,277 reviews248 followers
June 12, 2013
Absolute amazing portrayal of Anne Boleyn. Just beautiful. More of a review to come :)

"'You're strong.
You're so sure.
You know what you want,
and you're not afraid to make it happen.
You don't let anyone walk on you
or take anything from you.'"
--Katherine Longshore, Tarnish

Um. So, yeah. To quote Carrie from Sex and the City I have to point out to you all that "I have an addiction, sir." That addiction? Historical fiction. FOR REAL. I feel as if historical fiction were crack I would have been in and out of rehab several times by now. It really is a problem. And delving further into that problem is one specific person that I FANGIRL over and have always adored (Warning: There will be swearing, I apologize for little ears so bear with me.) Who might you ask? Anne. Boleyn. Oh. My. Gosh. This girl is no fuckin' joke. I'm serious. If you know anything about history you know she does not have the best reputation and things do not end well for her but she is so much more that. And Katherine Longshore gives you just that in the novel. The writing is amazing. Her portrayal of Anne is just beautiful. *sigh* Ok, so let me break it down for you.

Like I said before, I OBSESS over historical fiction. Specifically all things Tudor and Plantagenet and ESPECIALLY Anne Boleyn. So when I found out that Katherine's second book in her Royal Circle series was going to be from the point of view of Anne I. Freaked. My. Shit. YEEEEEEES!! Oh my gosh, this is going to be amazing! And it totally was. So we meet Anne in this book in 1523 as a young girl returning to the English Court after being exiled by her father back to France. We later learn of her transgressions but that is another story. The Anne we meet is so different from the Anne that is portrayed in history books. This Anne is young, scared, insecure, and the youngest daughter aka irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. She detests this. She wants to be heard. She wants a voice. She wants somebody to hear her. She enters the English court as a black sheep because her ways are all too French. Her hood, her style, her speech, her attitude. She is despised by king's sister, the Duchess...and what a bitch she is, seriously. Oh and PS-the random swearing Anne does is HILARIOUS to me. When she drops all propriety and calls somebody a bitch or uses the F-word I was just dying. You go girl. Anyways, Anne tries hard to be herself in a world where she does not fit it. I love these moments of uncertainty and awkwardness. It made her so real to me. She really was just a very uncertain girl who didn't know how to fit in and where she fit in. She is loosely betrothed to this awful man who she wants nothing to do with. And she wants to belong and prove to all the terrible in people in court that she matters...

...enter Thomas Wyatt. *SWOON ALERT LADIES* But I have to say, he wasn't that way to me at first. He is the court playboy. A poet. Married. Sleeps with half the ladies in waiting. Typical handsome courtier. He decides he wants to help Anne be the center of the court's attention, she doesn't believe he has that power of persuasion...so they make a bet. Wyatt schemes and flirts with Anne to make her look desirable and she in turn plays her part of rejecting him. This goes on for awhile so Anne can look for prospects other than the man she is supposed to marry. Enter Henry Percy. *Sidenote: Anyone who has read about Anne Boleyn before knows these two name are very important so SOME SPOILERS OF HISTORY MAY HAPPEN IF YOU DON'T ALREADY KNOW* She thinks he is a good match. Well bred. Rich. Inner circle of the king...and he seems interested. She sets her sights on him...while Wyatt does the thing he never thought he would do...he falls in love himself...with Anne, of course. *sigh* I couldn't remember the part he played in history and I refused to look it up while I was reading so him falling for her was a mild surprise for me. Oh he is so swoon-worthy. His blatant and ostentatious actions that make the court believe they are lovers are so outlandish, hilarious, and sigh-inducing. This man is a charmer. But I love him most after Anne is sent back to Hever. His short visits just make me want to cry with yearning. In a time when marriage was an end all, be all because divorce was not allowed it made my heart hurt for her. Knowing she could never be with him...sad face times a million.

AND THEN King Henry catches Anne Boleyn fever. Ooooooh snap!! The scenes between Henry and Wyatt had me sweating. The tension. The angst. The forbidden acts of it all. I was dying! First of all, the witty banter these men had when fighting over her but not fighting over her made me wanna unlace my non-existent corset, is it hot in here? Because the men sure are. Shit son. There is something so hot about men fighting for the honor of being called yours. It is a primal instinct I have. I want to be won. This may be the only area where Anne and I disagree. I would like to belong to someone. Someone who fights for me. Who wants me for me. Not in the submissive and subservient belonging, you know what I mean.

The Anne in this book is so strong. She grows so much in a short period and really starts to become the woman we see in the history books. Strong. Opinionated. Unforgiving. I can relate to her so much on a personality level and I can't get enough of how independent and strong-minded she is. She doesn't take shit. She wants to prove the haters wrong. I love love LOVED how Katherine put in foreshadowing clues throughout the book to inevitably set up for what eventually she becomes and what happens to her. Personal favorites. Anne says the King would never look at her. She could never be Queen. Her neck is small if she were ever to be beheaded. Jane Parker saying she would never turn on Anne. George being seen in her bedchamber to talk to her. Anne saying how one day her father will bow to her. Oh the agony and angst of what is to come. It gave me chills. And the last paragraph of the Author's Note made me cry. Literally. Beautiful.

I just don't think I can say enough how much I love Anne Boleyn. One person I want to meet dead or alive is her. I just have so much respect for her and I think she just got dealt the worst hand in history books. So much slander and bullshit. This bitch is fierce. She practically invented playing hard to get with Henry VIII. She spoke her mind, she was smart, she was clever, she was a WOMAN. Blasphemy! A woman AND a thinker?! Crazy I know. But this is why I love her. And Katherine paints just this picture of her and humanizes her in a way that I have never seen before. She was a person who wanted to be heard and matter beyond an object of her family's to sell to the highest bidder. She made a difference. She frickin' influenced the very religious king to break away from the Catholic Church...girlfriend knew how to work a room. And I just think she was brilliant. If I have an idol, it's gotta be her. While she couldn't save her own neck, she did pave the way for her future daughter to rule without a man. She opened up so many opportunities for women at the time that she didn't even know. It is just inspiring. Love love love. And if you have to read any book about Anne Boleyn...read this one. It is beautiful. It is heartfelt. It is real. It makes you see what kind of girl Anne could have been and probably was. I recommend this book to all people. Everyone should know a little history...if only to impress your friends during Jeopardy :)

Should You Read This? For the love of the Crown, YES! Even if you don't particularly enjoy historical fiction, you will still love this book. It reads very easily and not stuffy like some historical fictions are. Team Anne Boleyn.

Favorite Quotes

"Only my words can set me free, and only when the right person hears them."

"I mean you are destined for great things! You're destined for the greatest gambles. For the kind of legendary love you only hear about in ballads."

"'Mistress Boleyn'...'in all our lives, we hope to come across the beauty of someone who will truly change the world just by being in it. Flattery is superficial. Beauty runs deeper."

"I kneel in my room and make a pledge to myself never to let anyone tell me what to do. Anyone. Not my fiance. Not my husband. Not my father or my brother. Not society. I will rule myself."

"This man, this unattainable, golden god of a man is actually interested in me. Anne Boleyn. In my words."
Profile Image for Sarah.
355 reviews29 followers
July 14, 2017
3.5 stars. This ended up better than expected, despite the beginning. I was so close to putting it down because of the writing and the characterization at the beginning, but I was too intrigued by the thought of a story that focused on Thomas Wyatt and Anne Boleyn, so I continued, and I'm glad I did. It was a pretty good read overall. I found Anne's characterization a little questionable; she spent like 97% of the book having 0 self esteem, and I know it's supposed to be about her coming into her own and all, but I've always had a picture of an Anne confident since, like, birth, so the absolute pale noodle Anne was at the beginning didn't jive as much with me. But yeah, really refreshing to read about her and Wyatt for a change. I also really liked the little nods to other parts of Anne's history, like "the most happy" and her casually saying "I have but a little neck" and other stuff like that.
Profile Image for Sydni.
86 reviews1 follower
May 19, 2020
I mean it's YA tudor fiction but it pulls it off! not my favourite george boleyn but then again my standards are extraordinarily high because he is, as the kids say, mine own boy
June 21, 2013
Everyone knows Anne Boleyn's fate, but not many know what her life was like before she was to become queen and marry Henry VIII. Anne was a newcomer to court and since she has spent many years at the French court, she has adapted many of their ways, which makes her a bit of an outcast. Her childhood friend and notorious womanizer, Thomas Wyatt, has offered to help her make an impression at court and essentially be accepted. Anne not only wants to be recognized at court, but she also doesn't want to be controlled by a man, including her father. She wants to have a voice and a say, which is unheard of for a woman during her time. Things with Wyatt take an unexpected turn and on top of that, she eventually captures the king's attention. Katherine Longshore's Tarnish is a captivating look at Anne Boleyn's life at court that will keep historical fiction fans flipping the pages despite the fact that we know her unfortunate fate.

Longshore's version of Anne Boleyn is everything I could want and more in Tarnish. She is just how I imagined her and Longshore did an outstanding job bringing her to life. She felt well developed in Tarnish and not just some chess piece in her father's warped game that blindly accepts things and mutters yes or no. She's smart, witty, and feisty. I've read many historical novels that deal with Anne Boleyn and I've got to say that this is my favorite portrayal; plus, Tarnish examines a part of Anne's life that most authors overlook. I enjoyed getting a glimpse into what her life was like at court before the king noticed her and how she dealt with the various pressures from her crazy family.

Thomas Wyatt, the well-known poet, attempts to "coach" her regarding how to be popular at court. Since he is a charmer, I kind of expected Anne to fall into his trap, but as Tarnish progresses, Wyatt took me by surprise. There's definitely more to Wyatt than just an eloquent philanderer. The romance in Tarnish is done very well and there's much depth to it as it focuses on the big choices Anne has to make in life, which essentially deal with matters of the heart. Should she follow her heart? Should she listen to her father? Can she be more than just someone's mistress?

I also like how Tarnish doesn't deal with the marriage of Anne to Henry VIII. That has been played out by many an author and thankfully, Tarnish just focuses on Anne at court before things get serious with the king. Ultimately, I feel that is why Tarnish is like a breath of fresh air in the world of Tudor literature.

My only issue with Tarnish is the length. It is rather a long read and when it comes to teens, I'd only recommend it to serious historical fiction fans and/or fans of Tudor history. But hardcore history fans, like myself, won't mind the 400+ pages.

Once again Longshore has a hit a home run. I always think that I am over books about the Tudor court, but then she writes a brilliant version that keeps things captivating and fresh. I can't wait to see what Longshore comes up with next.
Profile Image for Talia Vance.
Author 3 books248 followers
May 8, 2013
I loved this story of family, love and self discovery. Anne no longer feels at home in England, and she refuses to conform to the rigid social conventions of the English court. But when Thomas Wyatt offers to help make her the belle of the ball, Anne plays along, falls in love, and catches the eye of the king.

Tarnish is by no means a tragedy, but the ghost of Anne's demise casts a shadow over this story of young Anne. There were times I wanted to scream at her to run far, far away from the king, but even then, it was easy to empathize with the choices she made.

The book is full of wonderful characters who kept me turning the pages,from the charming and sexy Thomas Wyatt to the pernicious Jane Parker (Boleyn) and the troubled George Boleyn. Anne is a strong character, a maverick of her time, but also vulnerable and insecure.

15 reviews39 followers
April 30, 2016
I thought this book was okay because at times I felt that it was boring. The story was moving slow but the characters made me continue to read. I have an interest of learning about England's most ambitious family,the Tudors,but out of all the people in that family, I like Anne Boleyn the best. I feel that she is the most clever of all of Henry's wives. This book portrayed her personality well, but if I could change something about this book, I would make the story move faster and stick more onto history's side then fantasy.
Profile Image for Lauren.
676 reviews75 followers
January 10, 2013
If kids knew how interesting the royal courts were, full of "beddable men" and "bitchy women", I suspect they'd payer closer attention in history class! The second book in Longshore's "Royal Circle" series is just as sensual, detailed, and fascinating as the first - I couldn't put it down! "Tarnish" is a sophisticated YA novel that should easily appeal to adults whether they are YA fans, history buffs, or none of the above!
Profile Image for Brittany.
343 reviews10 followers
March 30, 2016
I enjoyed this book.... I wanted Anna to end up with a curtain someone but that wouldn't have been Anna Boleyns story. And Thomas Wyatt..."And wild for to hold, though I seem tame" omg be still my heart. I just loved everything about that man<3 Good historical read and I'll probably be looking into more of Katherine Lonhshores stories:)
Profile Image for Sarvenaz Tash.
Author 9 books301 followers
February 4, 2013
Katherine Longshore brings the Tudor court to visceral life with her lush and beautiful prose and her vibrant characters. It was so fun to read about the infamous Anne Boleyn as a young misfit girl trying to be heard.
Profile Image for MistyWish.
209 reviews
May 31, 2022
"I am not nothing, and I refuse to be nothing. Without you. I will be more than you. You will not shape me. Because I have a shape of my own."
I am hugely invested in the interpretations of Anne Boleyn and how she is represented. I see more to her rather than the name she's been given in history "The whore Anne Boleyn".

Rumors and gossip follow Boleyn like a shadow and she is greatly mistreated and more importantly underestimated! both her mind and tongue are sharp which I believe intimidated others around her, even though in the book you see her hold herself back at times or getting scolded a many times, you're constantly hearing from others and the fear they have for her.

How this woman isn't damaged is beyond me only because of where she's been used and so horribly treated is crazy to me! most of the time the worst heartaches were caused by her brother George, but for the Boleyns family is everything in their own way.
I was captivated from page 1, I always wanted to know about what would happen next with Anne, there were things I definitely wasn't expecting at all! for my part, I would have liked to have read more between Henry and herself with what is somewhat known from history but I understand why the author decided to concentrate on a younger version of Anne who is finding love and still being optimistic.
100% power, love, and heartbreak. today's lesson! men are rubbish.
My conclusion is I had a blast reading, it was fast and fascinating just to be able to experience a story from the perspective of AB!.
Profile Image for Laura.
101 reviews
May 10, 2018
I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading this because most of Anne’s story is told after she ensnared the infamous King and not before. But it was a welcome change to the tragic story that lay ahead for Anne Boleyn. Retracing the second queen’s footsteps in anticipation of interacting and essentially falling in love with King Henry VIII set apart this novel from the rest.

Longshore’s writing was beautifully crafted and added a layer to her story building. The writing kept me reading and the characters were so real and full of substance and drama making it easy to picture the fights and conversations as they unfolded. I even wanted to scream at some and cry at others! It was as if I was there, seeing and feeling everything her characters went through.

“I want him so badly I feel like glass on the verge of shattering.”

I honestly don’t think she could have worded it any differently. The impact just leapt off the page!

The sibling rivalry between Anne, Mary and George was executed brilliantly! It was authentic and the fighting made sense. The strain between her and her sister, Mary was pivotal to the overall plot because we know that Anne ends up with the King and with Mary being one of his many mistresses, their jealousy is important! You could tell the strain between Mary and Anne because of Mary’s reputation in France and then again with the King himself. Understandable too given the fact that there was an underlying desire for the King in Anne that was hidden and suppressed the longer she knew Wyatt. And George had a lot to hate about Anne, her poaching a title from him, their father’s attention etc. now that I think about it that’s probably the reason for his excessive drinking. But despite all of this Anne never wavered, she still believed in the Boleyns’ sticking together. She didn’t want to give up on them because she knew that they were stronger and ultimately happier (even if they didn’t see it at the time!) if they stuck together. They were a constant and I think that’s exactly what Anne needed while dealing with court life.
Despite his treatment of her it made sense! He was jealous of their father’s love for Anne! “He said I wish she was my boy. I wish Anne was my son. I would give her everything. You don’t deserve it!” Although this realization came near the end of the book, I like how they made up. They were finally united and I like how that was how the novel ended, sticking together like Anne always knew Boleyns’ should.

It’s natural for siblings to fight but because of the fate bestowed on Anne, I thought her relationship with George would have been on good terms. Most of what I knew about these two from history was their undoing, the accusation of adultery and incest. This made me think that they were thick as thieves and that’s how it was easy to twist their relationship to that of incest but that’s not how it went in this book. There were rumors about the two throughout bit because it was written in Anne’s focus, you as a reader could tell how she felt about him. It wasn’t until George’s new wife and Anne’s friend, Jane Parker mentions the possibility of such actions as possible, 358 pages in.

“I’m always being criticized, Thomas. By you and everyone else. Told who I can and can’t speak to. Be with. What I should look like. I need to be more like everyone else. I need to be seen but not heard. I need to marry a man of my father’s choosing and disappear into oblivion.”
“No, Anne. You are better than that. You are not meant to be shackled to a man who binds you into his own perfect image. You don’t want to be known throughout your days as Anne Percy, or Anne Butler. Or Anne the King’s concubine. You are Anne! Anne Boleyn.”

The supporting characters boasted Anne’s. However, the character that made the most impact in my mind was the Kent, Thomas Wyatt. Notorious for being the talk of the court, Wyatt seemed to go out of his way to talk to and conspire with Anne. The introduction to his character was brilliant! You could feel the sparks as the two spoke, “Nor would he ever call his lady so,” he says. “For earls are gentlemen and accord their ladies naught but the tenderest of words and devotion of heart, body and soul.” He’s insufferable and arrogant but he spoke out about women’s rights, something that Anne herself was passionate about, so how could there not be sparks?

“No, it was his words that drew me to him. And the fact that he listens to mine.” He was the thing that she couldn’t get out of her head. He was her constant. They played off one another so smoothly. I think it was their witty banter that kept me coming back for more. You could easily tell who they were as an individual as well as see the undeniable passion between them. Longshore made me fall for him just like Anne was. “I listen to every word you say, Anne. You may think no one hears you. You may think that no one listens. That you can toss off into the wind and will never be remembered. But I remember, Anne.” I think this sealed the deal for me. He wasn’t who everyone thought he was. He actually cared for Anne past their stupid bet.

Throughout the whole novel Anne never wanted to be seen as a mistress or anything lower than a man’s equal. It was her fear of herself and what her words would convey but she took that risk and everyone who knew her did too. This made her strong!

“I want to see it all. But my life is limited by more than rivers and walks and monasteries. These men have no idea what being trapped really feels like. Only my words can set me free and only when the right person hears them.”

Every time Anne would pine for Wyatt and say that he’s the one for her, it hurt me! Because I knew that they couldn’t end up together. He never wanted to compromise her integrity, he would challenge her without pushing too hard. He listened to her and valued her as his equal. He was the right person for Anne and she knew it, sadly she also knew she couldn’t have it. It was essentially their love story, the boy before the king.

We saw Anne vulnerable and unsure, young and naïve. She was voicing an opinion that is still debated today. She wouldn’t jeopardize her own morals or integrity to get what she wanted and wouldn’t rest until she got it. She was not going to be someone’s mistress, the easy route out of her tedious situation and I admire her for it. She knew what she wanted and she wouldn’t settle for less.

“All my life I have been shipped and trundled and bought and sold by my father. I want to be mine. I don’t want to be a mistress, Your Majesty. Worse than that. Nothing. I don’t want to be nothing.”

She was aware of her flaws but used them to her gain because it was her words that got her to the King. He admired her for it and this in my mind made them a solid match.

“You are not a possession, Anna. Not a thing. And you could never be nothing.”

“And Anne? Most people know what happens to her. I prefer not to include it here, because in this book, at least, she is alive and optimistic, on the verge of love. About to face the biggest adventure of her life.” Not only was this honourable for Longshore to admit but it also struck a chord with me. People spend so much time worrying and thinking the worse, so seeing Anne how she was before her tragic end felt like hope. I learned from Anne that anything worth fighting for won’t be easy and giving up is not a choice. And this is why the book was as great as it was.

Profile Image for Donna .
468 reviews124 followers
July 3, 2013
I received a copy of this audio for review from Penguin Audio through Audiobook Jukebox

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore was very nicely narrated by Leslie Bellair. Her voice was expressive and well paced although not overly animated allowing the reader to enjoy a very laid back narration of this historical story.

I have read just about every book about Anne Boleyn that I can find, she is such a dynamic historical figure with such a tragic story. Tarnish is unique in that some possibilities were explored that I had never considered or read in any other portrayal of her life. Reading this made me recall Susan Bordo's novel "The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen" where she talks about how each generation interprets Anne in a way that fits with that time period. In this case, Anne is depicted in a manner that will appeal to young adults while still remaining very close to what is established history. Longshore's Anne Boleyn was much softer and more approachable than the haughty queen with the biting wit that she's been painted by many other fictional portrayals.

I enjoyed that Tarnish explored the possible relationship between Anne Boleyn and Thomas Wyatt. This is so well done and entirely historically plausible. Several times throughout the story, I felt a little jolt of sadness at some seemingly offhand comment by Anne or Thomas that sounds so innocuous unless you know how this story plays out.

Tarnish begins shortly after Anne's return from France and ends right as her relationship with the king is beginning. I enjoyed imagining Anne as an insecure girl thrown into a hostile court with dreams of being more than a woman of that time period can usually expect. In Anne's strained relationship with her brother and father, Tarnish puts into perspective the way women were viewed in 1500's England.

Overall, this is a wonderful read that I would highly recommend for fans of historical fiction. This is a great introduction to Anne Boleyn for anyone who only knows her as the tragic queen of Henry VIII. And for those who are very familiar with Anne's story, this is a fascinating fresh perspective.
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