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The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn: A Novel

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  6,723 ratings  ·  415 reviews
Now available again, the first book in Robin Maxwell's acclaimed Elizabethan quartet: ""Wonderfully juicy . . . Maxwell brings all of bloody Tudor England vividly to life” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

One was queen for a thousand days; one for over forty years.  Both were passionate, headstrong women, loved and hated by Henry VIII.  Yet until the discovery of the
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 1st 2021 by Arcade (first published April 24th 1997)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  6,723 ratings  ·  415 reviews

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Evgnossia O'Hara
Each time I read a book about Anne Boleyn I can't help loving her even more for the courage of her heart and her vivid spirit. She was a feminist in a period of time when women considered to be the property of their fathers and their husbands afterwards. She was fearless, determined, charming, ambitious, political astute, highly intelligent and intellectually driven.
This book proves that once again. It is a story of Anne told through the diary entries and being read by her daughter Elizabeth, t
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an avid reader of Tudor biographies with a particular fascination for Queen Anne Boleyn, I approached this historical fiction novel with some skepticism. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed! Not only was it factually accurate, but the best read on Anne Boleyn I've had. This novel is premised on the idea that Anne Boleyn kept a diary from the inception of her romance with King Henry VIII up until the day before her execution. This diary was discreetly given to Anne's daughter Queen Elizab ...more
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like historical fiction
I loved this book and would recommend it above the Other Boleyn Girl. In fact having read this book and at least one or two others about Anne Boleyn, all of which portrayed her as a woman who wanted to take control over her life instead of being having her entire life run by men and brought about her own downfall not just because she wanted too much power but because she wanted more power than a woman was supposed to want, I had trouble getting into the Other Boleyn Girl, which to me made Anne s ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent depiction of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn as told through diary form which was an interesting take on the oft-told story of Henry VIII’s second wife.

I especially liked that it also features a young Queen Elizabeth who is wrestling with her own desires and political fortunes.

As always, I find this era fascinating and having read several different versions, I believe this one adds some emotional depth to Boleyn’s story.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: purchased, historic
How can a book that is 'ripped from the pages of a history book' set almost 500 years ago be this awesome? I don't know but it has me looking for the 10 star button.

This book begins early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth (I). When she learns of a diary of her mother's and is given it. The book juxtaposes the reality of Elizabeth and her struggles as a Queen with the words of Anne Boleyn starting before she returns to England and ending with her death on the Tower green.

Even though we the reader
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Reading this book was like mashing the Movie Elizabeth with the Showtime series "The Tudors"!

Queen Elizabeth I is given her Mother's diary. She is intrigued as she really did not know her Mother. As she begins reading the journal she is given a glimpse into the life of her Mother, her Mother's relatives and also showed her a part of her father she did not know. The Diary chronicles the time before Anne was married to Henry VIII and up until the day of her execution.

This is a book that
Kylie Cheung
I heard a lot about the book before reluctantly reading it; its page number was so small (I typically enjoy longer novels) and I'm not such a fan of stories told in the form of diaries, and so it was a long time before The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn found its way to my read-list. I decided to read it for a school project since it was the only Anne Boleyn related book on the list, and after the first few pages I was simply pulled in. Maxwell's book is brilliant; I've always known that the lives ...more
Jun 18, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So disappointed.

I enjoy historical fiction, and the addition of a little romance is usually the icing on the cake.


Though this book was listed as historical fiction at my library, it's the rankest Harelquinny, bad fan-fiction drivel, full of purple prose, silly coyness, and ridiculous sex at ridiculous times.

Folks, this is just BAD. And it's really too bad, because the adventures, sexual and otherwise, of the Tudor family en toto are rife with ideas for the imaginative writer who is willi
Blech. I've read books about Elizabeth I since I was in 5th grade. Hands down my favorite historical figure. I hated the little I read of this book. First off, it starts with her having sex with Robin Dudley, then makes a lame claim that she didn't have periods so she couldn't get pregnant. This has no factual basis at all, and chances are very high she was, indeed, the Virgin Queen. People watched her all the time, so she couldn't just escape for a little adult fun with Robin like this books cl ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2004- This was my first reading of one of Robin Maxwell's books, and I must say it won't be my last. I already can't wait to read the next two! However, I'm getting ahead of myself. This novel moves back and forth in time from Queen Elizabeth in the present, to her mother, Anne Boleyns', life in the past. Elizabeth is presented with a diary that Anne kept, which chronicles her life right up to very end. Apparently, it was Anne's wish that eventually Elizabeth would read her writings. Elizabeth f ...more
BAM Endlessly Booked
2018 Reading Challenge: novel based on a real person

This was a different approach
Queen Elizabeth is given a diary written by her mother and it takes her forever to read it
I mean really? It's not like she's going to get upset
This was very interesting. Of course, I've read several books about the Tudors, and obviously, since it's based on fact, you pretty much know what happens.

I liked that this book had a little twist. Elizabeth is given her mother, Anne's diary. So through that, you live mostly in Anne's world, but the book also has some insight into Elizabeth's life. That made this book a little step up from your average book about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn's relationship.

If you like historical fiction, you'll p
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I really liked about this book, at some points it was Queen Elizabeth talking in the present time of her life until one day she was handed her mother's secret diary and then it would switch back and forth from Elizabeth's day to when she would pick up the diary and transport to Anne's life. I hope I explained that well enough. I thoroughly enjoyed this book ...more
Ugh. Seriously, I am done trying to give Robin Maxwell a chance. The topics are delightful but the writing style and the actual storylines are that of a young adult's imagineering mind. Not for the intelligent.

Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. I know there are many versions of her diary and story, and I hope to read them all, however, this one was wonderful.
Angela Holland
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I didn't like: This book started out a little slow for me and in parts a little dry. I think this was somewhat me and not used to reading something actually written in the time period it took place. This was not a bad thing as the author did such a good job of portraying Anne and writing as she would have written the journal that you felt like you were reading a true journal by Anne Boleyn.
What I liked: I loved the subject of this book. Anne Boleyn is one of my favorite historical figures t
Oct 04, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: noone
I picked up this book because I needed something fast and brainless. I didn't want to think, I didn't want to be depressed (I just finished Bret Easton Ellis- enough depression for awhile), and I thought Tudor England would be fun for a minute. No. Not fun. Poorly written, tedious, and I've read this book- or a version of it- before. Only whichever version I've read before was done better. I didn't have the energy to put this book out of my sight and start another, but I should have.

The only pr
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth I, only daughter of Anne Boleyn was left an orphan at the age of three. With the unfortunate luck of having no knowledge about her mother and having to live under the shadows of her father, King Henry VII, Elizabeth unexpectedly grew to become Queen of England. Through her journey of being queen, Elizabeth stumbles upon her mothers secret diary, a couple of her mother's old friends, and an old friend which becomes her new lover. With these encounters, Elizabeth gains important skills a ...more
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book more than I had expected. It’s a novel, a fictionalized account of what might have happened if Anne Boleyn had written a diary. Of course the author made assumptions that cannot be verified as fact--that’s what happens with historical fiction. What mattered to me was that these assumptions not clash with what is actually known about Anne, those around her, and the setting in which she lived. The events in her story must agree with those from history sufficiently for me to suspe ...more
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Large portions of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn center around the fictional diary entries of Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife to King Henry VIII. Beginning around the time of Anne’s entry into the English court as a Lady in Waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon in 1522, the diary entries chronicle Henry’s pursuit of Anne, the ascension of Anne to the throne, the birth of the future Queen Elizabeth I, and ultimately ending with Anne’s last night in the Tower of London before her execution on May 1 ...more
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth I is queen and in love with Robin Dudley when she receives a diary written by her mother, Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn changed the course of English history.

After returning home from being in the French court Anne is seen by King Henry VIII. Her sister is already the king's mistress and Anne has no wishes to be another of his mistresses. She aims higher. She 'holds' out with granting the king any sexual favours and thus starts a six year engagement.

The pope refuses to dissolve the king's m
May 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WOW! This was a fantastic book. The "sequel" to "Mademoiselle Boleyn", it starts off with new Queen Elizabeth being handed her mother's secret diary, that she left with a confidante. As Elizabeth reads the diary, she realizes all the things she ever heard about her mother are false. Her mother wasn't a cold, heartless whore who deserved her beheading. And more shocking of all, her mother truly loved her.

This news rocks Elizabeth's world, and leads to the shocking decision to never marry, and end
Dec 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
Please see my detailed review at Grace's "Boleyn Diary" Review

Please click that the review was helpful to you at Amazon so that my rating continues to climb! Thanks!

This one took a little while to get going, but once it did - wowee. I love these sorts of premises for novels (hidden diaries, newly-unearthed). In Maxwell's hands, it was handled in a very interesting fashion and I'm so glad I stuck with it past the first few dry pages.
Gina Maples
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction and hard to put down! It was very interesting and I enjoyed reading it. However, I must admit that I liked The Other Boleyn Girl better!
Desiree Alvarez
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book to read. Robin Maxwell does a good job giving readers a book based on Anne's point of view. ...more
Aug 13, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful. Just terrible. I deserve an award for finishing this travesty of a book.
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ab
At first I was surprised by the structure of this book. I didn't know when I ordered it that Elizabeth would be a main character nor that we'd only have extracts from the 'secret diary'. I was surprised but interested. I thought the idea was nice and for a little while the portrayal of both Bess and Anne was quite alright (though Lady Sommerville was quite an unnecessary addition and could have been easily replaced by Margaret Wyatt or Lady Zouche to make it more realistic). And then, there came ...more
Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am just starting this book and it is actually better then I thought it would be so far but really it's just a light fancifull read. While enjoyable it doesn't hold water to Sandra Gullands trilogy on Josephine Bonaparte. ...more
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn was a fascinating take on the connection between two of history’s most memorable women, two Queens and a mother and daughter.

Anne gave the diary into safekeeping and it was presented to Elizabeth at the beginning of her reign. Anne describes the events of her life beginning just before her ascendency to the throne, her downfall and ends just prior to her death. It is through reading the words written by the hand of a mother she barely remembers that Elizabeth lear
Mandy Moody
Wow. The Secret Diary of Ann Boleyn was a HUGE disappointment.
Here's how I imagine Robin Maxwell came up with the idea to write this book...
"Boy, I'd really like to write a book about Ann Boleyn, her story was so tragic. To bad I don't know enough about her to fill up a traditional novel. Also, the only stuff I really care about is the stuff everyone already knows.
Hey, you know who else is cool? Elizabeth! Writing a book about her would be fun, too. But I definitely don't know enough about her
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Robin Maxwell began writing novels about the historical figures she had been obsessing about since graduating from Tufts University with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Her first novel, "The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn," now in its 24th printing, won two YA awards and has been translated into fourteen languages. "The Wild Irish" - an epic tale of Ireland's rebel queen, Grace O'Malley - closed ou ...more

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