Well, there’s good historical fiction and then there’s, umm, THE BOLEYN BRIDE. Awarded one star on Goodreads.
I have three main complaints:
1. An unlikeable main character, with historical inaccuracy
2. Writing style
3. Unbelievable dialog
MAIN CHARACTER: Elizabeth Boleyn (mother of Anne) is a haughty, self-centered, pleasure-seeking woman looking back on her life. She is completely unlikeable and her regrets over past actions don’t ring true. As she relates the tale of her own life, and Anne’s rise and fall, she is more concerned with her own assignations than with the fate of her children. According to Purdy, she has a doll maker as a longtime lover, though I’ve never read a thing linking the two of them. Deduct a point for historical inaccuracy.
WRITING STYLE: At times the book reads like soft porn.
He loved me hard and fast, rough and then exquisitely, achingly tender, and when he paused uncertainly and asked if he should withdraw without spending his seed, I grabbed his hair in two hard handfuls and yanked him back down to me and held him tight until he cried out my in ams –Elizabeth!- in a passion choked whisper. (pg. 108)
In many places, the sentences are so convoluted and/or awkwardly phrased in order, it appears, to include completely unnecessary detail. Example:
As I sit upon a thorn-embraced bench that snatches like a greedy child at my already tattered black skirt and trailing mourning veils, with clinging burrs taking the place of ornamental buttons and embroidery serenely regarding my pernicious plants, sprawling in tangled, snarled, and matted masses across the graves and climbing the stone crosses and innocent fruit trees, I cannot help but marvel what a far cry it is from the neat and orderly beds of safe, fennel, mint, rosemary, thyme, basil, chamomile, dill, and rue in the walled garden behind the kitchen. (pg. 24)
I guess Purdy did a lot of research into plants and home remedies because paragraphs like the one above are everywhere. And there are way too many and equally detailed references to herbal concoctions throughout the novel.
UNBELIEVABLE DIALOG: Catharine of Aragon has a two page, one-sided dialog with Elizabeth Boleyn, in which she lays out the entire history of her 20 year marriage to Henry VIII, without a pause.
I picked this book up because I am a Tudor enthusiast and wanted to know more about Elizabeth Boleyn. But I simply didn’t buy Purdy’s portrayal of Elizabeth Boleyn. I cannot recommend this EVEN for the most die-hard lovers of Tudor England.
More about the author, Brandy Purdy.