The Boleyn King

Title: The Boleyn King

Author: Laura Andersen. This is her first novel.

Genre: Historical Fiction.

Readers: Production coordinator Joanna, copy editor Lori, retiree Nancy, stay-at-home mom Colleen B. and homemaker/writer Nan.

Summary: What if Anne Boleyn had given Henry VIII the son he so desperately wanted?

Just seventeen years old, Henry IX, known as William, is a king bound by the restraints of the regency yet anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the Catholics sowing the seeds of rebellion at home, William trusts only three people: his older sister Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by William’s mother, Anne Boleyn.

Against a tide of secrets, betrayal, and murder, William finds himself fighting for the very soul of his kingdom. Then, when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession looms over a new generation of Tudors. One among them will pay the price for a king’s desire, as a shocking twist of fate changes England’s fortunes forever.

Joanna

What if Anne Boleyn had given Henry VIII the son he so desperately desired? And what if that son grew up to become the king of England? Author Laura Andersen explores these very questions and more in this re-imagining of one of England’s most infamous periods in history. Fans of Philippa Gregory’s Tudor book series will feel quite at home in The Boleyn King. Like Gregory, Andersen depicts life in the Tudor court in all its insidious glory, and indeed the book brims with courtly conspiracies and lies, murder, betrayal, and romance. Royal paternity and the right to the throne are both at the heart of the story, but also explored are themes of love, friendship, and patriotic duty. What sets Andersen apart is the “what if” premise of the book, and it was great fun to go along this journey as she re-creates events which just might have happened in an alternate universe (though some historically accurate relationships and events have been kept intact – i.e. Elizabeth’s relationship with Robert Dudley). Andersen has done her research and it shows.

If I could offer one (admittedly tiny) criticism, it would be the decided lack of sumptuous detail about life in that time period. Andersen doesn’t spend many pages describing in great detail the type of food that was enjoyed during the courtly feasts or just how ornate those palace interiors looked. This didn’t necessarily take away from my enjoyment of the book, but it would have been a fantastic addition. The book’s ending, too, is somewhat of a question mark, and I had turned the final page with questions swimming around in my head. It wasn’t until later that I learned that the book is to be the first in a trilogy. The discovery was a happy one, as The Boleyn King is an entertaining, well-paced book that transports the reader and leaves him/her wanting more. Not too shabby for a first-time novelist.

Grade: B

 

Lori

This book is a very interesting approach to historical fiction. The author took a well known historical scenario and played “what if” with it. As a frequent reader of well-researched historical fiction in general, and the Tudors in particular, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed not knowing how the tale was going to play out. The author’s premise freed her up to use more than just character development to create a moving story; the plot could be new and exciting as well. An aging and infirm Anne Boleyn is especially intriguing, as she’s generally frozen in time as a young, beautiful seductress.

This book would be a great beach read for HF lovers; it’s a bit fluffy, but still captivating.

Grade: B

 

Nancy

The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen was an easy choice for me since I have read all of Phillipa Gregory,s historical novels. The difference in the Boleyn King is that it is based on the premise that Anne Boleyn was not beheaded and that she gave birth to William who became king upon the death of Henry VIII. The combination of romance and intrigue set in the mid 1500’s this book was interesting from beginning to end. Although it didn’t have an extensive list of background reading by the author, I thought it portrayed a very likely senerio of the times. The main characters were kept to a minimum so I didn’t need a family tree to follow the story. A quick and interesting read

Grade: A-

 

Colleen B.

One of my favorite historical fiction topics has always been England’s history on the Tudors.  I’ve read all the Phillipa Gregory novels and various others as well.  While I didn’t love it as much as I did Gregory’s novels, this one was still quite a fun read.

This novel is based on the idea that William, the son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn survived and is to become the king of England.  It is quite a clever idea.  I felt that Andersen did a fantastic job with the character development  of  those “new” to the Tudor court while blending in with the actual history.  It had an ample amount of romance, mystery, suspense and intrigue.   I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for the next two books!

Grade: B+

 

Nan

I’ll be honest: I just could not get into this book, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be in the minority.  I love historical fiction and I love anything related to the British royal family — past or present — but The Boleyn King could not hold my attention.  I was intrigued by the premise of the novel, which presents an alternate history in which Anne Boleyn gives birth to healthy son who goes on to become king.  While it’s a creative and fascinating perspective, I never felt connected to or really cared about any of the characters, and I often found myself thumbing ahead and calculating how many more pages I had to get through.  A lot of the dialogue seemed really forced to me, and even though the ending sets itself up nicely for a sequel (or two), I have no interest in reading what comes next.  I have to give the author credit for the originality of her idea, but I wasn’t impressed with the way it was executed.

Grade: C

 

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