Thursday, 18 February 2016

Book Review: A Lady Raised High by Laurien Gardner

Frances Pierce is a simple, plain country girl who enters Lady Anne Boleyn's circle after shielding her from an angry mob. Anne is beloved by King Henry VIII, and queen in all but name. And Henry is determined to cast aside his wife Catherine, marry Anne, and make her his lawful queen-no matter the consequences.

Frances delights Anne with her poetry and her forthright ways, and soon becomes a favorite. Dazzled by the glamour of the court, she pays scant attention to the intrigues that swirl around her mistress. But when the king's favor shifts, Frances will learn just how quickly those who rise far and fast can meet their downfall.

My Review:
This is another look at the story of Anne Boleyn, through the eyes of fictional maid Frances, who stops a crowd of local women from throwing mud at Anne. Anne decides to bring Frances to Court as one of her women, to the initial horror of her mother who supports Queen Katherine, until she realises that Court can provide her daughter with a rich husband.

Frances is not the greatest character in the world. She has a much too arrogant attitude for someone who is the lowest of Anne's personal servants. She is haughty, rude and lacks simple manners towards her social superiors. John Carlisle knows that Frances is gullible and clueless but every attempt at solid advice is rebuffed by haughty tantrums which got quite tiresome after the tenth time. He warns her that loyalty to Anne and the new learning is all well and good but she needs to pay more attention to which way the King's mind is turning in order to stay safe. Frances ignores him and instead spends her time mooning over George Boleyn. She is vain and self obsessed, always showing off her poetry and flirting with men she has no idea how to control. As always it is John to the rescue. John saves her from the clutches of King Francis, John saves her from an overeager courtier who is determined to marry her by 'spoiling' her so nobody else will have her. Seriously, what do all the men see in this stuck up annoying little peacock? She is untitled, far from rich and plain, yet the men all seem to want her!

John patiently tries to win the love of Frances but I don't get why he bothers with the brat. She sulks because he doesn't like her wonderful poetry, moans when he tries to look after her then complains when he doesn't show her any attention. I got tired of her very quickly. Poor John in constrant, is a solid, honest man who wastes so much time looking out for this airhead with no thanks at all. Even after they marry, it takes a while for Frances to grow up and stop being such a bitch all the time.

The 'romance' is set against Anne's story. We witness her trip to Calais with Henry, her first night with the King and her secret wedding through the eyes of Frances and John. The relationship between mistress and servant becomes cooler when Anne discovers poems that Frances wrote about George and accuses her of looking to marry above her station. Things get worse when Frances delivers a healthy boy when Anne cannot. I wish there had been a lot more of Anne and a lot less of Frances in this book as it could have been pretty good. There was nothing wrong with the actual writing, just the plot.

My real bugbear though was the changing of known facts. Why would the author write that all of the men accused of adultery with Anne were all hung when we know they weren't? That really annoyed me. Nobles were always beheaded as fits their station and it was common men who were hung. Changing things like this spoils the plot for me. This is not the best Tudor novel thanks to the dreadful fictional MC. There are much better Anne Boleyn novels that you can read instead.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

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