Wednesday, October 2, 2013

To Die For

To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. Sandra Byrd. 2011. Howard Books. 332 pages.

There are many ways to arrive at the Tower of London, though there are few ways out.
Sandra Byrd's To Die For is an excellent historical romance novel. The narrator is Meg Wyatt, sister to Thomas Wyatt; she is best friends with Anne Boleyn. While I've read plenty of historical fiction set during this time period, it's rare for Anne Boleyn to be presented so sympathetically. I really came to care for both Meg and Anne. The novel begins in 1518 and ends soon after Anne's death. While the focus is definitely on life in the court of Henry VIII, one can also see it as a novel about the English Reformation. It highlights that while for some the Reformation was a convenient way for the King to get his own way all the time, that there were many, many people in England who were true Reformers, and genuinely believed in the Reformation and were eager to get their hands on an English Bible and read the Scriptures for themselves.

In addition to the "romance" between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII (he is not presented sympathetically), the novel tells Meg's story. Her life being as good an example as any as to what a woman might expect from life at this time.

This historical romance was very enjoyable. Loved the writing, loved the characterization, loved the setting. It felt very personal, in a way, getting a glimpse of the close friendship between two women. For example, Meg being there for her during the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth, and for her two miscarriages. This was a very emotional novel for me, and I definitely wasn't expecting to feel such a strong connection with the heroines.

© 2013 Becky Laney

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