This book left me breathless. I zoomed through the last 150 to 200 pages or so in one sitting, unable to put it down and racing for the conclusion. I don't know why I don't read historical fiction more often. I love history and I love fiction. Plus, historical fiction gives you an insider's view into the lives of past figures in a way you would never see them. Don't get me wrong, I know that most of this stuff is made up, but it is somewhat based on fact (sometimes more than others). Reading history books in school or any sort of non-fiction book on history always leaves me wanting more. The people I read or hear about are nothing more than names printed next to dates. I can know when they lived and what they did and what their general occupations were, but I still don't get a good look at who they really were. That's why I love stories. Especially stories like this. The era of Henry VIII (he was big enough to be considered an era, right?) is insanely fascinating, but anything I read in a non-fiction or history book is going to make me bored. Don't just tell me the facts. Immerse me in the culture and fashion and scandals and views and opinions of the time. This book does all of that and then some. I couldn't believe the intensity of this novel, how real the characters became, how I could understand what they were going through, and then how I could better understand the time period because of it. I may not know all the facts concerning Mary and Anne Boleyn and their family, but I do understand how they might have acted this way in a time when religion came under a king's reign instead of the pope's and it truly was a man's world. And, to give it even more praise, this book made me actually want to pick up a history book and learn more about these women and this time.
I had heard that the movie was set to be released Dec. 21 from this site where I found the picture, but IMDb.com says it's not set to release until Feb. 29, 2008. Since I haven't seen any trailers or heard anything about it in the media, I'm going to believe IMDb, which is unfortunate because I am a very impatient person. (Personal note: I think Natalie Portman would make a great Anne Boleyn, and I am highly anticipating her role.)
I will definitely be reading more of Gregory's work, and I have a feeling that I may have to reread some parts in order to see how some of the characters overlap (I think next up will be The Boleyn Inheritance). Has anyone else read this book or any others of Gregory's? What are your thoughts/opinions? And, for my own personal knowledge, are her books in some sort of order, or does it not matter which ones you read first?
* * * * * out of 5 stars.