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by Robin Maxwell

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-55970-375-X
Publisher: Arcade

 An energetic, full-dress period novel, Maxwell's first, constructed from the adventures of Henry VIII's doomed second queen, mother of Elizabeth I of England. Here, a recently crowned Elizabeth finds her dead mother's diary, discovering not only a legacy of maternal love but the idea that Virgin Queens should stay that way. The story blasts off with a Tudorian ``God's death!'' roared by Elizabeth, but Maxwell doesn't generally weigh the narrative down with archaisms. The dutifully noted battles and political skirmishes of the great powers don't interfere with the upward strides (and missteps) of that peppery commoner, Anne Boleyn. Educated in a French court, and later in England, serving Henry's royal-born Queen Katherine, Anne, to her amazement (and greedy father's delight), is pursued by the King (``He loomed so large, those blue and laughing eyes so bright''). Having been separated from the man she really loved, Anne daringly keeps Henry in courtly pursuit--but out of bed--for six years. Meantime, Henry, determined to change queenly partners, uproots his allegiance to the Pope and creates an English church. The King and Anne marry, but now that the Unattainable has become a marital captive--and a queen unable to produce a son--Henry's frustrations (and desires) prod him to turn elsewhere. Death by execution in the Tower will cut short a life in which the stakes and odds were sky-high. Years later, Elizabeth finds in her mother's diary a pointed message: ``Never relinquish control to any man.'' Those fascinated by the Tudors--those magnificent, truly terrifying political animals--may find the characterizations and the language occasionally too modern. But Anne's straight-from-the- stomacher confessions, and Elizabeth's thundering about, should appeal to all fanciers of imagined portraits of Tudor-era heroines, like the late Eleanor Hibbert's (a.k.a. Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Jean Plaidy) gallery of royal queens. (Author tour)