One would think that someone like me would grow tired of the Tudors, as I have read books and watched shows and films about them voraciously for years. And honestly, I think I was starting to feel a bit less enamored recently. However, Barnhill's book has changed all that. Anne Boleyn is probably one of my most favorite Tudors, second only to her own daughter, Elizabeth I. I have loved her ever since watching the film, Anne of the Thousand Days, when I was but a girl of nine. Barnhill has taken Anne and written about her with such depth and understanding, I don't think I have ever read, or watched, her portrayed thus. Although I know there is much more written about her in the world that I have not read, I am confident that Barnhill has captured the very essence of Anne Boleyn. Of course, we all know pretty much everything about Anne's story (unless you've been living under a rock), but Barnhill adds that extra element that makes for great character development and excellent story craft. The scene that comes to mind is when Anne's son is born dead. Her utter sorrow over his loss actually brought tears to my eyes. A book that brings me to tears is a book worthy of my highest praise, as many of my readers know. The character of Anne is not the only one in the book that is well-written. One might think Lady Margaret Shelton a boring character by normal standards, but there is much to be said about such a loyal, yet complex woman. Loyal to her queen, yet not afraid to seek happiness for herself. Unfortunately, the times of Henry VIII were perilous for all and it couldn't be more evident than in the pages of this book. Everyone seemingly walked on a tightrope and no one's position was ever secure during his reign, not even his own children. Again, Barnhill portrays a character perfectly. We immediately know Henry's mind in this book as soon as he enters the story.
I am very impressed with this debut novel. Historical fiction is not easy to write and to have crafted such a well researched, yet entertaining book, is quite an accomplishment for an author's first novel. I look forward to more great writing from Ms. Barnhill.
About the book:
A sweeping tale of sexual seduction and intrigue at the court of Henry VIII, At the Mercy of the Queen is a rich and dramatic debut historical about Madge Shelton, cousin and lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn.
At the innocent age of fifteen, Lady Margaret Shelton arrives at the court of Henry VIII and quickly becomes the confidante of her cousin, Queen Anne Boleyn. But she soon finds herself drawn into the perilous web of Anne’s ambition.
Desperate to hold onto the king’s waning affection, Anne schemes to have him take her guileless young cousin as mistress, ensuring her husband’s new paramour will owe her loyalty to the queen. But Margaret has fallen deeply in love with a handsome young courtier. She is faced with a terrible dilemma: give herself to the king and betray the love of her life or refuse to become his mistress and jeopardize the life of the her cousin, Queen Anne.
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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy in conjunction with a book tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book tours and in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation.