There are many, many Anne Boleyn books to read. I’ll give you a few more in this post. I’ve already posted my favorite ones here:
In my opinion, the best thing to do would be to pass on both of those options and start saving your pennies to buy my diamond and 18K gold interpretation of the necklace. My version isn’t a literal interpretation of the necklace from the portrait because I was striving for a more graceful effect. The original is kind of clumsy-looking, don’t you think?
- The Concubine by Norah Lofts. This is my favorite of this list. It is told from multiple viewpoints, including those of Anne, Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon and Anne’s maid. I find the novels that use multiple narrators are often the most effective since they limit a writer’s urge to turn a single protagonist into a fine, upstanding citizen no matter what unsympathetic acts that person might have committed in real life. I always find books that hew to reality much more interesting than a whitewash.
- The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn similarly uses Anne and Lucy Cornwallis, the king’s confectioner, to tell the story. While Anne comes to life vividly, the character of Lucy never worked for me. I was irritated by her chapters.
- Like The Other Boleyn Girl, The Last Boleyn by Karen Harper views Anne through her sister Mary’s eyes. The Other Boleyn Girl is the superior book.
- The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell has its moments, but in general I dislike the “hidden diary” concept. As I said before, I find it distracting to have to consider whether this “diary” could have been safely hidden in a potted plant or up someone’s ass a la Christopher Walken’s character in Pulp Fiction. (A quote from Pulp Fiction: “The way your Dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He’d be damned if any slopes were gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy’s birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something. His ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid with uncomfortable hunk of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.”)
- Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret C. Barnes. The role of the observant servant is played by Simonette, the French governess, but fortunately she doesn’t dominate the book.
- A Lady Raised High by Laurien Gardner. And the role of the “simple, plain country girl” is played by one Frances Pierce. Much of the book concerns the Frances character’s romance, which was of very little interest to me.
- The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy. Plaidy also wrote Murder Most Royal, about Anne and her cousin Katherine Howard, who became Henry’s fifth wife (but “only” the second beheaded wife).
Finally, there’s a persistent myth that Anne had a sixth finger and/or a disfiguring goiter on her neck. It’s safe to say that is untrue. No eyewitness accounts mention any such physical characteristics, and people at the time pored over the appearance of kings and queens the way you study those hi-res upskirt shots of Britney Spears. Don’t lie to me. I know you’ve done it. Also Henry had a horror of illness and physical deformity. While he became grossly obese with oozing sores in his later years, he wouldn’t tolerate flaws in his women. He was the king! He didn’t have to. Anne was dark-haired and olive-skinned, so she wasn’t the ideal beauty at a time when the preference was for rosy-skinned blondes. She had great charisma, though, and alluring dark eyes, the latter causing the 16th century haters to refer to her as “the goggle-eyed whore.” Yeah, they were just “jellus,” as we say nowadays.