Nina's Reviews > At the Mercy of the Queen

At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Clinard Barnhill
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's review
Dec 14, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: netgalley, 2012, kindle, mission101
Recommended for: fans of Philippa Gregory and Tudor historical fiction
Read from January 15 to 25, 2012

I was excited to read another book from the Tudor period of history, especially since the story was told from a different perspective. The main character is Margaret Shelton, the cousin of Anne Boleyn who comes to court to be one of the Queen's ladies.

Observing the changes in Queen Anne's character and her relationship with the King through the novel is a highlight of this novel. Anne Boleyn is often portrayed unsympathetically, as a scheming, manipulative, heartless woman. Here, in the eyes of a friend, she may be hardened by a political life, but she is otherwise a person who cares about her friends and religion. Still, society blames the corrupt actions of King Henry and his cohorts on the Queen. The King is a weak, spoiled, and unpredictable character, and as his behavior wears on Anne, she begins to lose her temper with him more often, and she heads on the path to her doom.

On the side, Margaret has problems of her own that eventually are entangled with the Queen's problems. However, it's a lot harder to care about her struggles. Margaret, or "Pretty Madge" from Great Snoring (sigh...), is a very flat character. She doesn't seem to have many distinguishable traits other than her beauty. The men who struggle for her affection are similarly uninteresting. Norris is the bad guy who does bad things. Arthur Brandon is the good guy who does good things, but of course, he's not good enough for her because of his illegitimate birth. Gosh, it's like a Nicholas Sparks novel, except instead of a fatal disease, Madge gets the King. The writing flows smoothly enough, but some of the dialogue sounds more awkward than it should be, even given the time period.

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