I would give this no stars if I could.
Henry had a new love now. A fair and fragile lady who was everything my daughter wasn’t and never would be—soothing, still waters, a placid blue gazing pool, instead of turbulent, cascading, rapid waters, crashing waves, and strong currents; clear blue skies instead of darkness, thunder, torrential, cascading rain, and flashes of diamond-bright lightning.
I read so much bad YA fiction with terrible writing that I had completely forgotten how ferociously atrocious adult books can be.
The writing in this book is criminally bad. Appalling. I wonder how the fuck this book even got through an editor, or whether it has actually been skimmed by an editor at all. As readers, we often complain about purple prose, the prose in this book isn't so much purple as it is a violent, putrescent, vomit-inducing shade of fuchsia.
The main character is a bitch, a raging, narcissistic harpy of the highest order. Her pee should be bottled in Swarovski decanters and sold within the Hermès boutique in Paris. Her shit smells like the kiss of early morning dewdrops upon the buds of all the lavenders of Grasse in springtime.
This book is set in English Tudor era, it is the story of Elizabeth Boleyn, THE Anne Boleyn's mother. You might be fooled into thinking this is historical fiction, the compelling story of the mother of one of England's most memorable queens.
You'd be wrong. This book is roughly the equivalent of a Tudor Toddlers and Tiaras.
For those who are unfamiliar with US reality shows, Toddlers and Tiaras is a reality show about kids who participate in child pageants. More accurately, it's a portrait of parental failure. These pageant moms aren't...motherly so much as they are horrible bitchy, shallow harpies vicariously reliving their youth and casting their failed hope and dreams onto their daughters.
In a sentence, that is the personality of the main character of this book.
The Writing: The writing is abominable; I have rarely encountered writing so fantastically bad in my life. It took me about 15 minutes to read the motherfucking prologue because I had to go back and read some sentence roughly 5 times because I didn't (and still don't!) know what the fuck the sentence was trying to convey. I present you the example of one sentence within this book. Please tell me what the fuck this sentence is trying to say.
I would sit for hours and contemplate the graves where my lost children slept, resting in the protective, embracing shadow of a tall white marble cross, mounted on a little hillock, rising like a miracle, a resurrection, out of a dense mass of sweet white woodruff, planted all around with a small orchard of apple, cherry, plum, peach, pear, fig, and quince trees, my husband’s prized “Paradise Apples,” from which our cook baked his favorite pies and made quince jelly.
This is from the first page of the book. It did not bode well for the rest of the story.
You will find many like this within this novel. Many sentences are roughly the length of a long, pointless, meandering paragraph. Why have a simple sentence when you can have sentences within sentences. Why walk from point A to point B when you can take a long meander to point C and F, and sit and smell the roses along the way. Who the FUCK edited this book?
And just for shits and giggles, here's another sentence. Let me clarify that this wall of text is ONE SENTENCE.
Doubtlessly when I die—and I think it shall be soon, as the poet Wyatt, who loved my daughter, so aptly said, “These bloody days have broken my heart,” and already I cough up blood—Thomas, my venerable and esteemed husband (Read those words with bitter, biting gall like a scorpion’s sting or a serpent’s deep-piercing fangs!), will send in the gardeners to restore order and beauty, the stately perfect precision of pruned boxwood hedges and intricate knot gardens like embroidery brought to life, all the expensive elegance he thinks befits him as every year takes him further and further away from his London shopkeeper origins.
One Gesture: 20 Words
...I used to taunt him, adopting a haughty yet exaggeratedly, and, I hoped, maddeningly casual tone.
How to Annihilate an Imagery
Welcome to my private Hell. Pass through the portal, the old sagging, groaning gate, twined with stinging nettle, not quaint, picturesque ivy; walk in amidst the thorns, thistles, and grasping blackberry brambles; chance the poison, if you dare, when a prick or a graze, a carelessly plucked leaf or nibbled berry, even a beautiful yellow flower, could be your own death knell; and gaze your fill upon the ugly, foul, festering fury that is the raging, bitter as gall and green wormwood, black and red soul of Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire.
How To Maim a Metaphor
My future was decided, like a black velvet curtain being drawn over the bright sun.
How to Crush a Contrast:
blood and snow, passion and purity, fire and ice, hell and heaven, sinner and saint, conquest and surrender, whore and virgin, the red dazzle of rubies and the nacreous lustrous shimmer of pearls, innocence born from a bloody womb, the blood is the life, the cold white marble of death—a tomb effigy; red roses for the blood of martyrs.
How to Demolish Dialogue:
Anne cried, “Even dull, dirty ditch water can, under the right circumstances, cool and refresh a parched and thirsty throat or hot, flushed face!”
Meet Elizabeth: She is beautiful.
I was born beautiful, with hair black as ebony, skin white as snow, eyes bewitching and dark, lips as luscious, red, and sweet as the ripest cherries.
And as you can see, Elizabeth is more than a little full of herself. She feels the need to constantly remind us of her extreme beauty. She deserves everything good and wonderful in life because she is beautiful.
I deserved better than better; I deserved the best! How could life be so cruel and unkind to me when I was so beautiful?
Elizabeth is disappointed in her daughter Anne (the future Queen Anne). Elizabeth contemplates killing her daughter at birth because she is so ugly.
... it occurred to me that it really would be better, for all our sakes, if she were to die, as so many children did, in infancy. I just could not believe that something so ugly could have come out of someone so beautiful.
Because it is just criminal for a beautiful mother to have such an ugly baby.
I get it. Beauty is power. I understand the power that beauty holds, especially when you are a Tudor woman, when you are pretty much powerless on your own. Women did not hold positions of power. They rarely hold property. I understand that beauty is a weapon. But there is a difference between wielding beauty as a tool and pure shallowness. Elizabeth is shallow, she only thinks of things in terms of looks, she rarely THINKS. She is completely, utterly brainless. She does not plot, she does not scheme like other noblewomen did. Her only job is to spite her power-hungry husband by sleeping her way through the Tudor court. Elizabeth's dreams are tied between her legs and in her tits and the lovers she can entire. She is so utterly obsessed with her beauty. My beauty. My beauty. My beauty. Remember that phrase, it is oft-repeated throughout this book. This book is about Elizabeth and nobody else. She is so fucking full of it.
But it was only my face as perfect as I saw it in my mirror each day. He had captured every line, every nuance, flawlessly. He had actually done justice to my beauty!
Elizabeth is a neglectful mother. She rarely acknowledges her children until they are fully grown. When her adult daughter, Mary, comes to her with a crisis, instead of comforting her...
Did I comfort, love, hold, and kiss her, and assure her that I, her mother, would love her no matter what? No. I did none of those things. I changed into a fresh nightgown, massaged a little rose-scented cream into my face to keep my skin supple and soft, blew out the candle, went to bed, and slept soundly.
Yeah, there's the fucking mother of the year for you.
She's pretty when she cries.
What a strange and frightful sight I must have presented, this frenzied and crazed, weeping and wailing woman—my behavior at such a startling and sharp variance to my appearance, the epitome of courtly elegance and gracefully aging beauty arrayed in silver-braided black satin embroidered with fanciful swirls of silver acanthus leaves; ropes of pearls and a diamond collar to artfully conceal the sagging skin of my throat; diamonds on my fingers and at my breast; and a pearl-bordered black gable hood (before the veil caught, and it fell away and my silver-streaked black hair tumbled down to catch on and be torn out by the grasping thorns).
Pedophile Alert!: I think sexuality is healthy, I love lust.
But man, it's just fucking wrong for a 16-year old to be lusting about giving a 10-year old future King Henry VIII a blow job.
I imagined myself kneeling at his feet with my hair unbound and flowing over my naked breasts. Maybe he will take me over his knee and spank me, I thought. I sincerely hope so!
Did I mention Henry is 10? HE IS 10!!!!
Though only ten, Prince Henry had such a way about him.
That's just nasty, bitch.
The Other Characters: Caricatures. Laughable cartoon caricatures. Everyone is an exaggerated version of themselves. The wicked are sniveling, parsimonious villains, the good are "whey-faced," and so simple they might as well be born mentally challenged.
The beloved (to me, at least) Anne Boleyn completely lacks any sort of complexity, Anne Boleyn is reduced to a hair-tossing cocktease.
“I would rather remain barren than give birth to a bastard, even a royal one!” she said heatedly, tossing a black wave of hair back over her shoulder.
Anne is childish, throwing tantrums.
Anne stamped her foot and tossed her black head, slinging her long hair like a whip.
Anne is overdramatic, a flighty-headed bitch.
Anne stood straight before him, with only the banquet table between them, and, hands on hips, defiantly tossed back her braids, thrust her chin high, and proudly pronounced one emphatic word: “Beg!”
This is hardly the kind of behavior I find credible.
Fuck this book. This is truly one of the worst books, not to mention the absolute worst and most inaccurate Historical novels I have ever read in my life.