Posted By Claire on October 17, 2014
Let me lay my cards on the table, I’ve been corresponding with Sandi Vasoli for a number of years regarding her research on Anne Boleyn and Tudor history so I’ve come to know her and regard her as a friend. That being said, I wouldn’t review this book if I didn’t feel that I could be honest about it or if it was going to be some kind of conflict of interests.
From corresponding with Sandi, I know how much research lies behind this novel of Anne Boleyn. Sandi even visited the Vatican Archives so that she could see Henry’s letters to Anne Boleyn ‘in the flesh’ and what an experience that was for her! Rather than just reading the printed transcripts in books or online, she was able to examine and compare Henry’s letters to Anne, and to see the marked contrast between the letter Henry wrote when he learned that Anne had sweating sickness and the other letters. As Sandi explains in her article Henry VIII’s Love Letters to Anne Boleyn, that letter had ink drops and smudges and was written with a very unsteady hand. Just seeing that letter had given her some insight into Henry’s state of mind and the depth of his love for Anne, an insight which she has used in her novel.
This is not ‘yet another’ Anne Boleyn novel, it is a novel which seeks to give readers a picture of the real Anne Boleyn and her relationship with Henry VIII based on the primary sources. Anne is no caricature in this novel, she is fleshed out to be a real, believable person with very real flaws. She is passionate, she is impatient and she is brought to life, as is Henry. What really struck me when reading this novel, as it has never struck me before, was the unbearable triangle that Henry, Anne and Catherine of Aragon were living with. For years, Anne saw her biological click ticking away while the Great Matter was debated and the annulment argued for, while her beau spent important occasions with his wife and daughter. It’s little wonder that she flew off the handle at times. And poor Catherine too! The hurt, frustration, impatience, hate and love of all these characters are beautifully portrayed in this novel and you can understand what drove them to do the things they did.
I also appreciated Elizabeth Boleyn coming out of the shadows. We know that Elizabeth acted as a chaperone for her daughter and Henry while Anne was queen-in-waiting, and we get to see that mother-daughter relationship in this novel as Anne shares her feelings with her mother.
This novel seeks to be an accurate re-telling of history and I commend it for that. When, like me, you have spent many years researching Anne, you build up your own picture of her and it can be hard to take on board someone else’s view in a novel, but this one fit with what we know about Anne. The book ends in 1533, having taken the reader from Anne’s early life to her marriage to Henry, and I can’t wait to see how Sandi handles Anne’s fall in her next book. This novel was a pleasure to read – a must read for historical fiction lovers and those interested in Anne Boleyn.
Over the next days, as I went about my business, the King was rarely far from my thoughts. Finally, admitting to myself that my mind was constantly preoccupied with images of him, I decided to spend some time alone in my chamber attempting to sift through my sentiments for the truth.
Gain unprecedented access to one of history’s most tumultuous love stories in Sandra Vasoli’s riveting debut novel, Je Anne Boleyn.
Sixteenth-century England witnessed a roiling tide of changes—most of which were fueled by the scandalous romance between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
The first volume of this two-part series tells the story of what really happened from Anne’s own point of view. In sumptuous detail, Je Anne Boleyn recounts the moment the lovers first met, as well as the powerful and climactic consequences that ensued.
Scrupulously researched, this fictional memoir welcomes readers into the head and heart of one of history’s most misunderstood women. Learn how much Anne valued her female friendships, her desperate desire to bear children, and what lay behind her instinctive mistrust of Cardinal Wolsey.
Readers will gladly come to know Anne Boleyn like never before.
Series: Je Anne Boleyn
Paperback: 366 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (April 30, 2014)
Available as a Kindle book and paperback from Amazon.com and Amazon UK.