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Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

Posted By Claire on May 9, 2013

Tarnish Katherine LongshoreThank you so much to author Katherine Longshore for sending me an ARC of her upcoming novel Tarnish, a novel featuring three of my favourite historical characters: Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn and Thomas Wyatt.

Now, I’m hard to please when it comes to fiction on Anne Boleyn because I research Anne on a daily basis and spend my time trying to banish the myths propagated by some novels. I have to chant “it’s fiction, it’s fiction” before I start an Anne Boleyn novel, but there have still been novels that I’ve had to give up on because they’re so far removed from history or they’ve just plain got on my nerves. Thankfully, Tarnish was one that I enjoyed. There were a few things that niggled me – the characters of George and Thomas, and the fact that Anne was sent back to France after her return to the English court because she shamed her family. I also sighed on the first page when a mention is made of Anne hiding her misshapen finger, but I was relieved when it is explained that Anne actually broke her finger in a childhood accident, it’s not an extra finger – hurray!

What I really enjoyed about this novel was the interaction and relationship between Anne Boleyn and poet Thomas Wyatt. Nobody knows the depth of their relationship, whether they ever had a romance or whether it was unrequited love, so it is the perfect topic for an author to explore in fiction. Their relationship starts with a wager: Wyatt promises to help Anne, who’s the odd-one-out at court due to her dress, her past and her sharp tongue, advance at court. Her reputation has become ‘tarnished’ and she needs help, but it’s also a game to Wyatt. He believes that if he helps Anne to be accepted at court that “before long in this pretty, showy dance, you will want me in your bed.” They make a wager: Anne makes Wyatt promise that he will leave her alone and not “press” her further if he loses the bet and in return she promises to “follow through” if he wins and she desires him. As the nature of their relationship is unknown, this wager adds tension to the book and the reader is desperate to find out where Longshore will take them. What will happen?

I enjoyed Longshore’s writing and her characterization. Although Thomas and George grated for me, because they were not how I imagine them to be or how I think they were, I loved Wyatt (OK, I fell in love with him!) and I liked the mixture of strength and vulnerability in Anne’s character. It was also good to see a Jane Boleyn who’s not spiteful and voyeuristic for a change!

All in all, it was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. It also contains a detailed “Author’s Note” explaining where Longshore has used poetic licence and filled the blanks with her own ideas – very useful.

Blurb from author’s website:
“Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court—and to convince the whole court they’re lovers—she accepts. Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice—but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart’s desire and the chance to make history.”

By the way, although it appears to be aimed at the teen market I didn’t find that out until after I’d read it and noticed that it was published by Viking Juvenile. It is not “teen” in its writing style.

Book Details

Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (June 18, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670014001
ISBN-13: 978-0670014002
Tarnish is due out on 18th June 2013 but can be pre-ordered from, Amazon UK or your usual book retailer.
Author’s website:


4 Responses to “Tarnish by Katherine Longshore”

  1. Clare says:

    I’m assuming from this that George is the usual pathetic hanger-on.

  2. Claire says:

    No, he’s quite a strong character but is not that nice to Jane, although not violent or anything like that, and he visits brothels.

  3. Clare says:

    So it’s the other side of nasty George. It has to be one thing or the other. At least he doesn’t seem to be a rapist in this, unlike ‘The Crown’. What would be unique is if a fiction writer ever has the balls to show him in a positive light. Perhaps they think that would be too far fetched.

  4. Kylie says:

    This question may seem a tad irrelevant, but what birth year does Longshore use for Anne Boleyn — 1501 or 1507? Just curious, thanks!

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