The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy
Paperback, 272 pages
February 25, 2014
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Received for review as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
“At sixteen, Elizabeth Howard envisions a glorious life for herself as lady-in-waiting to the future queen, Catherine of Aragon. But when she is forced to marry Thomas Boleyn, a wealthy commoner, Elizabeth is left to stagnate in the countryside while her detested husband pursues his ambitions. There, she raises golden girl Mary, moody George, and ugly duckling Anne—while staving off boredom with a string of admirers. Until Henry VIII takes the throne. . .
When Thomas finally brings his highborn wife to London, Elizabeth indulges in lavish diversions and dalliances—and catches the lusty king's eye. But those who enjoy Henry's fickle favor must also guard against his wrath. For while her husband's machinations bring Elizabeth and her children to the pinnacle of power, the distance to the scaffold is but a short one—and the Boleyn family's fortune may be turning. . .”
This book was a mixed bag for me – I liked the story but did not care much for the writing style, which actually made it very difficult for me to finish reading the book. I’m going to first address the storyline (which I liked) before moving into what did not work for me.
The Boleyn Bride follows Elizabeth Howard, wife to Thomas Boleyn and mother of Anne, Mary, and George Boleyn. I was intrigued by the novel because I wanted to know more about this woman who brought these three intriguing historical figures into the world. She has to have had an interesting story?! Right?! Well, sort of. It seems the majority of her time was spent trying to find a way to spite her husband. She was a hands-off mother, even when her daughters were favorites of King Henry VIII. She really wasn’t all that interesting of an individual after all – but I did appreciate her outside looking in storytelling. I actually can’t say that I liked Elizabeth – I found that I did not have any real feelings for her; she just came off as cold, distant, and superficial. I also did not like that the author chose to continue to include the rumors about Anne Boleyn – the sixth finger, growth on her neck, and the belief that Anne bewitched (literally) Henry. These are elements that I cannot stand in Tudor novels, especially these modernly written ones.
With regard to the writing style, I almost did not get through the prologue – it alone was 26 pages of a 272 page novel! It felt way too long. The author also uses very long, extremely descriptive sentences full of semi-colons. These sentences slowed the pace of the narrative down and did not necessarily add anything to the narrative. Early on in the narrative, the author establishes Elizabeth as a complainer, a turnoff to me as a reader when the same complaints are repeated over and over. A perfect example of that is that Elizabeth repeatedly says “Thomas Bullen – I mean Boleyn!”. I get that the character is mocking her husband and the first time or two it worked, but each time after that I actually got angry when I read it. Please give me something new!
Overall, I don’t feel that this novel contributed anything to the Tudor literature collection and could easily be passed over.
Author Brandy Purdy also has written The Tudor Throne, The Queen’s Pleasure, The Queen’s Rivals, Vengeance is Mine, The Boleyn Wife and The Confession of Piers Gaveston. You can visit Purdy’s website for additional information about the book.
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I also have two copies of the novel to giveaway today to a lucky US resident thanks to HFBRT. Entries are made through the Rafflecopter below. Last day to enter is March 2nd. Good luck!
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