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
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publisher: Viking Juvenile, 448 pages
Publication Date: June 18th, 2013
Source: ARC won from author's website (THANK YOU KATY!!!!!!)
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.
"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."