Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn” as Want to Read:
Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn

(Shadows of the Crown #7)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,423 ratings  ·  90 reviews
The enigmatic Anne Boleyn comes to life in this charming, brilliant portrayal by acclaimed British novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes.

The infamous love of King Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn undertook a rocky journey from innocent courtier to powerful Queen of England. A meticulous researcher, Margaret Campbell Barnes immerses readers in this in
Paperback, 383 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published 1949)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Brief Gaudy Hour, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Brief Gaudy Hour

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,423 ratings  ·  90 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
The story of Anne Boleyn as mistress-turned-queen to Henry VIII is well-known. However, lesser known (quite near nonexistent), is any evidence of her personal stance on the situation and the state of her heart. Margaret Campbell Barnes allures readers with an introspective view of Anne Boleyn in, “Brief Gaudy Hour”.

True to traditional Barnes style, “Brief Gaudy Hour” suffers from a slow start with large lapses in chronological storytelling. There is a sense of detachment in Barnes’s work both in
Aug 25, 2008 rated it liked it
I did enjoy this book, although I found myself analyzing it from as being historical fiction first publish over 50 years ago. This came into play with Margaret Campbell Barnes' depiction of Anne's alleged sixth finger and mole on her neck - two rumors about her that most recent historians discount. I also sometimes the portrayal of Anne as dated (again, as in notions and beliefs about her from the 1890s and the turn of the 20th century).

The main "flaw" in this book, to me, is the passage of time
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I always approach a new book about Anne Boleyn wondering which aspects of her life or personality are going to be be followed and which will be played with. It is part of the fun of Tudor fiction! In this case, the author is using Anne as the older sister, being 18 when she served the Queen. I'm personally of the opinion that Anne was the younger sister based on all the non fiction I've read but it doesn't greatly bother me.

Anne's love life is the cental theme to the book and she tries to distan
Olga Hughes
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
First published at Crickhollow Books

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, being the first older historical novel (first published in 1948) that I’ve read on the Tudors. Margaret Campbell Barnes back catalogue was reprinted by Sourcebooks in 2008. After finishing this novel I can see why, this easily outshines a lot of contemporary offerings.

You might be surprised that a lot of novels on Anne Boleyn are written from another characters point of view,
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to know the true history of Anne Boleyn
First published in 1949, this novel of Anne Boleyn paints a compelling portrait of one of the most ambitious women in history, the mother of the great Elizabeth I and a player in the Reformation. With sensitivity and insight, Margaret Campbell Barnes brings to light Anne Boleyn’s humanity and courage in the face of her adversaries. Barnes was known for her meticulous research and accurate portrayals of historical events. (So if you have been a victim of any of the inaccurate trash that has been ...more
The book starts with young Anne who is called to court by her father, telling her that she is to attend the King’s sister to France. Anne is excited to go and while in France she grows into beautiful woman who gets the attention of men. She also witnessed the love between Mary and Charles Brandon, and vows that one day she too will have great love story.

Back in England she fells in love hard but when that is destroyed she wants revenge. But she’s also gotten the King’s attention.

I quite liked th
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudor
One of the better novels I have read about Anne Boleyn.It seemed the author portrayed her with a good deal of realism and kept many of the qualities that we know about her.I liked how it was told from Anne's viewpoint and that her relationship with Henry Percy was included.I also thought it was nicely written.However,it was a bit outdated and some parts of the story just didn't work for me.I think it might be a good book to start out learning about Anne's story as it definitely leaves you with t ...more
Oct 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Wow.. the version I have was published in 1949. I wonder if that will affect anything.

UPDATE: I really enjoyed this book about Anne Boleyn. The only thing I was confused by was the appearance of Jocunda, Anne's stepmother. STEPMOM? It seemed to infer her own mother had died. I've never read that anywhere else. I wonder if that was a rumor that has since been dispelled or something.
Sep 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After finishing the book, I turned to the inside cover and was surprised to find that it had been orginally published in 1949. That may account for some of the historical inaccuracies that more recent research has set aside.

I found this novel's view of Anne Boleyn to be a more balanced portrayal of her character than that found in other novels I have read. She was a young, beautiful, intelligent but somewhat self-absorbed woman, whose family coveted more influence and power in King Henry VIII's
Jean Marie
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Oh, those Tudors, oh that Anne Boleyn. Yeah, I've read many, I've enjoyed most mainly because I'm always curious to how an author will twist Anne's tale; will they show her in a positive light or portray her as the vindictive creature who fooled Henry VIII. This book is definitely the best novels on Anne's life and probably just as genius as The Other Boleyn Girl.

First thing is that this book was originally written in the 1940s so the prose is much different from more modern Tudor novels. It le
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Everyone that knows me relatively well knows that I'll read nearly anything involving the Tudor family. (So long as it's not one of those ridiculous bodice-ripper novels) This means that I've done my research and have a pretty good idea of what's gone on and what not. At least more so than the average person on the street. (What, you mean the average person can't even NAME all of Henry's wives, let alone have a favorite one? Gah! ;))

With that being said, I think I'm automatically going to deduct
Aug 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I read this book for the first time 25 years ago, I found it on my mothers bookshelves. It was one of the first historical novels I read and it helped create my love for historial fiction in general and books about the Tudor family specificly. The quality of this book lies in the fact that it pictures Anne Boleyn as a young girl and is not so negative about her as many other historic novels. Mrs Campbell Barnes managed to write a fascinating story, that I very much enjoyed reading again after al ...more
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was first published in 1949 and it’s the first “older” work that I read about the life of Anne Boleyn. At the beginning I struggled with the book, but once I read the first hundred pages I was drawn into the story. Then again, books about Anne (one of my favourite woman in history) always tend to do that.
Although this book is written a long time ago (even another century  ) it is more accurate than most of the modern books that feature the Tudor Dynasty. Barnes tells the story from A
Charlene Vickers
May 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
I can't say that I hate this, but there's far too much inaccuracy and sloppiness for me to have really enjoyed it. Yes, history marches on, and we do know more about Tudor times than we did in 1948, but even taking that into account the author plays far too lightly with the facts.

To give a few examples:

* This Anne is said to have been born in 1503. We now know that's two or three years too late, but fair enough: it's a good guess for the time. But how could she then be 18 years old in 1515, when
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I am an Anne Boleyn fanatic, and I relish in any book I can find about her, fiction or non. I was very pleased with this book and thought it accurately depicted the life of histories most remarkable woman.

Anne Boleyn comes to life in this volume and the author uses a lot of the queen's real documented words to make the story more real than any fiction I've read in the past. Also compared to books from others, Miss Barnes presents Anne in a better light since she starts the novel in her younger y
Feb 09, 2009 rated it liked it
An interesting look at Anne Boleyn. I liked this version of Anne better than many of the others I've come across. MCB makes her a sympathetic person, one that you can actually feel sorry for. In this version, Anne recognizes her ambition and what it is doing to her but can't figure out a way to stop it and does admit to herself that she loves the power she is gaining. It is also obvious in this telling that Anne was very in love with Henry Percy and that THAT really affected what she did later i ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great retelling of the Anne Boleyn story. Not 100% accurate but never mind. I kinda like it when historical fiction writers make Anne out to be a bit of a seductress. Recommened for all fans of The Tudors. I just never seem to tire of reading about Anne Boleyn. I think she must be(for me anyways) the most interesting person history has to offer.
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is a great read and based on real history not some made up Hollywood tale!
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for our first book club discussion. The book is beautifully written, weaving fiction into a historical account of Ann Boleyn's relationship with Henry VIII. I loved the ending. ...more
Mar 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Wonderful story about Anne Boleyn. First time I heard the complete story besides knowing she was beheaded.
May 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ab
To be honest I almost put the book down after having read no more than a few pages.

First Anne has a sixth finger and a step mother named Jocunda, not to mention the mole on her neck and so on. I realized only afterwards how this book had been written prior to the new historical findings and theories showing how Anne could not have been deformed as her enemies had alleged.
Though I managed to get through all of it and and the reading did not drag on for so long as it sometimes does when a book rea
Kylie Cheung
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Brief Gaudy Hour" is an earlier Tudor fiction piece, and what you first need to bear in mind while reading this is that some of the language is going to be dramatically different from what you're used to. For instance, 'lovemaking' is courtship, not sex. I know I was certainly confused at first upon reading Henry saying that surely 'many men have made love to you before' (not an exact quotation) to Anne, and then going on and calling her a virgin. Anyway, there are many novels of Anne Boleyn so ...more
Kathleen Kelly
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The infamous love of King Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn undertook a rocky journey from innocent courtier to powerful Queen of England. A meticulous researcher, Margaret Campbell Barnes immerses readers in this intrigue and in the lush, glittery world of the Tudor Court. The beauty and charms of Anne Boleyn bewitched the most powerful man in the world, King Henry VIII, but her resourcefulness and cleverness were not enough to stop the malice of her ene
Anne Boleyn was, for better or worse, one of the most influential women of the 16th Century. In fact, she may even be more influential than her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. Born into a family of minor nobility, Anne longed to be something more. Her romances gained for her several lovers, but the most famous of these was King Henry VIII. Henry fell in love with Anne and, encouraged by Anne's family, he left his wife of almost 20 years, Catharine of Aragon, and his young daughter who would eventua ...more
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This classic historical novel is about Anne Boleyn. Despite the fact that she is a popular subject for writers of historical fiction, I think this may be the first novel I have read in which she is the protagonist, surprisingly enough. Barnes is an extremely good writer, and convincingly conveys the feel and details of the era. I swear I could just about feel the velvets and brocades of the clothing and smell the candle wax and polished wood of Westminster and Hampton Court.
Brief Gaudy Hour focu
This is a decent enough Boleyn novel, telling the standard story of Anne's early days at court, the love affair with Harry Percy, her rise and her fall. I particularly thought the way her relationship with her brother was portrayed, as well as the way Anne was able to subtly alienate King Henry against Cardinal Wolsey, was fine.

That doesn't keep the book from the reading like a Harlequin romance at times. For example: "Love like this was a rebirth. It burned away all the cruelty and bitterness,
Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'd give the first part of this book 5 stars. It did a good job building up a fun atmosphere of relationships between the characters. The emotional coloring made it feel like precisely the version of the Anne Boleyn story that I'd *wanted* to read, though I couldn't have said exactly what I'd wanted before cracking the book. I'd just finished reading "The Concubine" by Norah Lofts and felt this one was definitely more fun.

But towards the end the book really started to play fast and loose with h
Karen Galber
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Margaret Campbell Barnes shows Anne Boleyn's humanity.
Anne did not ask to be involved with Henry Tudor but was forced by her father and uncle so that they could enjoy their meteoric rise to power.
Had Anne been allowed to marry Harry Percy who incidentally was the love of her life she probably would have lived a very happy life.
Anne's power slips away the moment she sleeps with Henry and her power slips even further when she gives birth to her daughter, Elizabeth and even further when she is una
May 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the love story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, the woman who changed history. Angered after her love affair with Henry Percy is broken up, she vows revenge on Cardinal Wolsey. Talented, flirtatious and intelligent, possessed of a strange alluring beauty, Anne refuses the love of Henry VIII. For her, Henry broke with the pope and the Catholic Church, divorced a Princess of Spain and braved the scorn of his subjects to crown her Queen. Unfortunately no son came for Anne and she ended up on ...more
Lindsey Cook
Dec 18, 2011 rated it liked it
A good read, but the historical inaccuracies were distracting. Even though this book was written 60 years ago, even then it had been proven that Anne never had a 6th finger or a mole on her neck. As well she as portrayed as having never loved Henry at all, when everything I've read says she loved him at least one time, even if she didn't start out loving him. I did enjoy Anne's early life portrayal, especially of her love affair with Henry Percy. The time line was a bit iffy as well, we never go ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Queen's Fool (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #12)
  • The Queen's Rival (In the Court of Henry VIII, #3)
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen
  • Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England
  • Beautiful
  • So You Want To Be A Celebrity?
  • Lipsticks, Love And Lies
  • The Rose Without a Thorn (Queens of England, #11)
  • Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • The Blackened Heart (Six Tudor Queens #1.5)
  • Reborn
  • Cookie
  • To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Ladies in Waiting, #1)
  • Vengeance Is Mine: A Novel Of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, And Lady Rochford  The Woman Who Helped Destroy Them Both
  • The Last Boleyn
  • Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion
  • The Boleyn Inheritance (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #10)
  • Murder Most Royal (Tudor Saga, #5)
See similar books…
Margaret Campbell Wood was born on 17 February 1891 in Rotherfield, Sussex, England, UK. She was the youngest of ten children, who lied a happy childhood in the Sussex country side. She was eventually educated at small private schools in Paris and London.

She married Peter Barnes in 1917, a furniture salesman, and the couple had two sons, Michael and John. Michael, a Royal Armoured Corps Lieutenant

Other books in the series

Shadows of the Crown (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Passionate Brood
  • Isabel the Fair
  • Within the Hollow Crown
  • The Tudor Rose
  • The King's Bed
  • King's Fool
  • My Lady of Cleves
  • With All My Heart
  • Mary of Carisbrooke
  • Lady on the Coin

Related Articles

  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
55 likes · 14 comments