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448 pages, Hardcover
First published May 9, 2013
I’m afraid I was wrong. Wrong about Mary, who never wanted to be better than anyone else; she just wanted to be herself.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?
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.
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.
[Mary's] voice is round and delicate, though tuneless.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.
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.
“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.
“When you walk away—and every time you walk away from me—don’t look back.”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.
Like Orpheus. Like Lot’s wife. Looking back would break the spell.
King Henry the Eighth,
to six wives he was wedded.
One died, one survived,
two divorced, two beheaded