Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
From the publisher:
"When young Anne Boleyn is sent to the French court with her father and sister, Mary, she thinks she's in for an innocent adventure. But when the ambitious ambassador Thomas Boleyn leads them into the highly sophisticated and sexually permissive court of Francois I, Anne quickly learns that she and her sister are merely pawns for their father's own political purpose. Mary becomes mistress to the outrageous French king and is ultimately seduced into his dangerous world by the luxuries of the court. But Anne will have a different fate...
Anne is younger, more clever, and stronger-willed than her sister, and with the guidance of powerful allies and such unlikely friends as Leonardo da Vinci, she learns how to navigate the challenges, passions, and betrayals of the court. And as she grows into a beautiful woman, Anne undergoes her own awakening, each daring exploit taking her one step closer to the life that is her destiny."
Robin Maxwell creates an interesting portrait of the much maligned Anne Boleyn. My background knowledge of Anne is limited to what most people know about the infamous second wife of King Henry VIII, but this account (embellished with literary liberties) introduces us to the future queen as a young and impressionable girl. Anne's early experiences at court began as an attendant to the pious French Queen Claude, and it was here that Anne encountered a host of individuals (ranging from laundry maids, artists, and the Kings of France and England) that would influence her religious and philosophical beliefs, views on women's independence, as well as her views of relationships and marriage. Anne found the decadence of the French court shocking and disturbing, and she suffered deeply as her sister, Mary, was forced into degrading situations with the people of the court of Francois I.
Described as darkly beautiful and intelligent, this fictional story paints a much more sympathetic picture of Anne Boleyn. She was clever, popular, hopeful for a future of happiness with a young love, and completely unaware of her true destiny in history. A very poignant tale when one knows there can be no happy ending for her.
Title: Mademoiselle Boleyn
Author: Robin Maxwell
New American Library
genre: historical fiction