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The Boleyn King: A Novel

The Boleyn King: A Novel - The Boleyn King explores the idea of what might have happened with the English monarchy had Anne Boleyn given birth to a healthy baby boy. If you don’t know this about me, I love history. I was a history major in college and I find the royal families, historical events, and class based society interesting and the idea that Laura Anderson explores made me curious to see where she would go with this story. The focus in addition to the what if is the relationship between the four main characters, William (King Henry IX), Elizabeth (Princess and Will’s sister), Minuette (Genevieve Wyatt) and Dominic Courtenay (best friend and advisor to the King).This book does a wonderful job tying in the historical pieces with a character driven story. Will is turning 18 and with that, taking over rule of the throne from his uncle Rochford who is Lord Protector. As is typical, there is a lot of political intrigue. Between trying to protect England from the French, Will is faced with having to make a number of decisions that impact his half-sister, Mary. She is staunchly Catholic and never supported her father’s decision to marry Anne Boleyn. Although she acknowledges Will and Elizabeth, Mary and her Catholic supporters will do whatever is necessary to put her on the throne and once again make England a Catholic country. Without going into all of the history and detail, the one thing that could potentially remove William as King of England is a supposed confession made by one of Anne Boleyn’s people called the Penitent’s Confession. As the book progresses through politics, intrigue, and romance, this is one of the mysteries at the heart of the novel. The only people Will trusts are involved in tracking this piece of paper down and in turn, protecting him.It is the relationship between the four characters that makes this book so good…in my opinion. All are close and have ended up looking at each other as a family. Although Minuette serves Elizabeth and Dominic serves Will, they are able to speak pretty freely with each other and have built relationships that allow them to trust in one another, despite their differences in class. Will constantly states how much he values Dom and the relationship they have – he knows that when he needs the truth, he can count on Dom to tell him things straight. As the book progresses, it is clear that Dominic has feelings for Minuette and eventually she realizes she loves him back. It took a while for them to get there and I was glad when they finally did. Unfortunately for them, they live in a world where they don’t necessarily command their own destiny. Along with that, the one person they both care a great deal for, Will, has also come to the conclusion that he loves Minuette. Because of this, there is some tension as to how to handle their feelings. They can’t come forward and declare anything for fear of hurting Will - who has it in his head that he will marry Minuette someday….despite his role as King and currently being betrothed to a French princess. It will be interesting to see what happens with this dynamic in book two as it is bound to create some tension between all three.Don’t get me wrong – I love Will and think he is a strong and fair king. I just don’t think he is the right match for Minuette and despite how much he cares for her; he is being fairly naïve about what he thinks he may be able to get away with considering the political climate. I will say I was sooo happy when he had Eleanor vacate the rooms he had set aside for her at court….she was definitely not one of my favorite characters. She went out of her way to make herself seem way more important than she really was and I found it annoying.Elizabeth is an interesting character as well. She is strong and smart but as a daughter, knows she doesn’t have any real power outside what she can do to support her brother and England. Robert Dudley is her love interest and as we find at the end of book one, has an agenda. I will be curious to see what happens in book two with her.If you can’t tell, I loved this book. It was the perfect blend of history, intrigue, and romance. These characters are ones that definitely make the history interesting if you don’t necessarily love that type of thing. Don’t be afraid of it here…the story is more than just the history of the English monarchy and I recommend you check this out. Excuse me while I get started on book two….