Book Review: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

In this “energetic” (Kirkus Reviews) re-creation of Anne Boleyn’s tragic life — and death — Robin Maxwell offers a pitch-perfect version of a bawdy and exuberant time filled with lust, betrayal, love, and murder.

When the young Queen Elizabeth I is entrusted with Anne Boleyn’s secret diary, she discovers a great deal about the much-maligned mother she never knew. And on learning the truth about her lascivious and despotic father, Henry VIII, she vows never to relinquish control to any man. But this avowal doesn’t prevent Elizabeth from pursuing a torrid love affair with her horse master, Robin Dudley — described with near-shocking candor — as too are Anne’s graphic trysts with a very persistent and lustful Henry. Blending a historian’s attention to accuracy with a novelist’s artful rendering, Maxwell weaves compelling descriptions of court life and devastating portraits of actual people into her naughty, page-turning tale. The result is a masterpiece of historical fiction — so prophetic of our time that one would think it were ripped from today’s headlines.

Although this book took me longer than it should to finish, I quite enjoyed the journey through the infamous Anne Boleyn’s life. This “Secret Diary” took us through Anne’s ascent to the throne, her tumultuous marriage to King Henry and finally, her downfall. She also left a touching message to her daughter, the currently reining Queen Elizabeth to always be true to herself and never allow anyone to come between her ambitions and true nature. From one dead mother to her daughter, Anne left a priceless gift that no one else could: the gift of truth.

Maxwell does a phenomenal job at humanizing Anne and allows the reader, as well as Elizabeth, to realize what Anne really was: an ambitions girl with hopes, dreams and a determined resolve which is the exact opposite of the usual cunning, calculating and bewitching woman she is usually portrayed as.

Even though this novel was a little slow at times, I would definitely recommend it to those who are looking for a different (and maybe perhaps a more accurate?) portrait of the woman who changed all of Christendom. Historical buffs will enjoy this novel and Tudor fans will love it.

My Gemstone Rating:



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