|Random House UK|
The idea of an alternate Tudor history has long fascinated me. There’s always been the hopeful glimmer of what might have happened had Anne Boleyn not miscarried of the boy who would have been her saviour. In The Boleyn King, Laura Andersen imagines what English history would have been like if, indeed, Henry and Anne’s son had survived.
The boy king, Henry IX, known as William, is about to come into his majority leaving aside his mother’s brother, George, who has acted as the young king’s regent, since Henry VIII’s death. William’s mother Anne Boleyn , now the dowager queen, still retains her charismatic hold over the English court.
What I found fascinating in this interpretation, and we must remember that this is indeed historical fiction, was the way that life at the English court was presented in such realistic detail, with the major historical characters still keeping the faults and foibles for which they have long since been known. Mary, is still aloof and largely unmanageable, whilst Elizabeth remains the shrewd operator, hopelessly, in love with Robert Dudley.
The story is told through the eyes of two main protagonists. Minuette, is a sweet and loving creature, closely attached to Elizabeth as one of her ladies in waiting, and Dominic, William’s closest male confidante, all have been friends since childhood. Now in early adulthood, this story charts their lives and loves, the dangers they all face from being so close to the crown and of the people who would see them all destroyed.
Overall, this is very readable romantic historical fiction. It delivers a nice blend of deadly intrigue combined with shades of romance, which I found to be quite refreshing. The story kept my attention from the beginning and, if I’m honest, being a Tudor purist, I enjoyed it, rather more that I thought I would.
The Boleyn King is the first in a series of alternate Tudor history novels:
The Virgin's Daughter - 2015
My thanks to NetGalley and Random House, Ebury Publishing
for the chance to read and review this book.