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The Queen of Subtleties
by Suzannah Dunn

Category: Fiction / Historical
0 pages; ISBN: 0060591579

Rating: 10/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


The Queen of Subtleties
Suzannah Dunn
Morrow, Sep 2004, $24.95
ISBN: 0060591579

While Anne Boleyn is incarcerated in the Tower awaiting execution on phony charges of adultery because King Henry needs to rid himself of his queen to marry Jane Seymour, she scribes her memoirs so her daughter Princess Elizabeth will never forget her mother. Anne's personal account of her meteoric rise from commoner to queen and collapse to death row prisoner is tainted towards making her look good in her child’s eyes

At the same time, Anne works her journal; her servant Lucy Cornwallis provides a less biased account of the major events that she observed that impacted the queen. Much of what unfolded occurred because the Catholic Catherine held marriage as a sacred act of God and thus refused to divorce Henry when he wanted to marry Anne. Henry delayed the divorce until he felt strong enough to defy powerful Spain, the Pope, and a popular queen until he named himself head of the Anglican Church. Anne marries her king, but her happy nuptials fail to last as people blame her for bewitching Henry and he holds her accountable for not producing a male heir.

The chapters alternate quite cleverly between Anne defending herself and the more neutral Lucy who has no ax to grind. Thus fans receive a fabulous historiography fictionalized account of an individual whose relationship with a king changed how her country worshipped. Historical fiction readers will appreciate this delightful recounting by Anne, who remains somewhat stolid as events come around without remorse even towards Catherine and her daughter Princess Mary. The seemingly more accurate write-up is also enjoyable as the confectioner servant tells how she sees what happened. Combined readers get a taste of King Henry’s pompous court.

Harriet Klausner


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