I was pretty late getting to this book.
I had already seen both the TV adaptation
and the Hollywood film
. And to be honest they didn't thrill me enough to send me running to the bookshop.
I purchased the book for the English section when I was still working at the library and thought 'I must get round to reading that.' Finally I did.
The 4 star rating you see at the top of this page is my review of this book as fiction.
It is a page-turner and pulled me into the story. There were people I liked and disliked, people who's deaths made me sad and I did worry about the fate of certain characters.
This is a good read if you can treat it as a bodice-ripper, vaguely based on historical events.
Unfortunately for me my inner Miss-History-Buff kept interrupting my reading. She was annoyed that so many details were changed for no obvious reason: Why did Mary suddenly become the younger sister? Why were the sisters so young?
Also having been brought up on Anne of a Thousand Days
and the accepted consensus of historians that Anne Boleyn, in contrast to Catherine Howard, was almost completely innocent of the charges made against her Miss-History-Buff began to seriously question Ms Gregory's portrayal of Anne as a scheming, manipulative witch.
What concerns me most is that as a result of the popularity of the book this revised version of Anne's character, even though it contradicts evidence from primary sources and many years of academic historical analysis, has become embedded in the popular consciousness and has led to the accepted wisdom that Anne was, for the most part, guilty of the crimes of which she was accused.
Ms Gregory may have taken liberties with historical facts merely to entertain us but she has succeeded in misinforming a whole generation's perception of this event in history.
My inner Miss-History-Buff would give this book only 2 stars at most.