This chance for us Howards comes once in a century…
1521. Henry VIII rules over a fashionable court alive with pageant and celebration, the lack of a son his only threat. When young Mary Boleyn arrives at court, she becomes his new mistress, an unwitting pawn in the ambitions of the powerful Boleyn and Howard families.
As Henry s interest begins to wane, the Boleyns scheme to put forward Mary s sister, Anne. Yet Anne Boleyn, newly returned from the French court, won t agree to be Henry s mistress only his wife.
Pitting the king s desperation for an heir against the advice of his powerful advisors, Wolsey and Cromwell, what follows will change the course of a country s history.
I have always wanted to read a Philippa Gregory book because (A) The covers are beautiful (B) I love history (C) People rave about her books. I knew that attempting to read this book would be a challenge because of the difficulties I have, but I wanted to try anyway.
There was A LOT to read, I don’t just mean in pages but in words. It was very meaty and I almost didn’t think I was going to finish reading it in the allotted time because I was reading so slowly.
I understood the story, but this was largely helped by the fact that I saw the film of the same name and enjoyed that so much. The book wove a complicated story and I kept reading because I wanted to learn more about the characters and imagine the real life scenarios that might have happened. Henry 8th is one of the most famous British Monarchs and someone I studied extensively while in school. It was interesting to be able to read about this particular piece of history outside of a history text book.
Honestly, coming to the end of the book I just feel exhausted. I feel like it took a lot for me to read this book and it pushed my brain to limits it wasn’t comfortable with. My ability to process information definitely hindered my reading of this and I did experience that moment when I wondered if I should just admit defeat and stop reading. I’m glad I managed to make it all the way to the end.
There were too many words for me to process and often times I couldn’t work out what primary character was speaking. It took a lot of effort and determination to be able to understand all parts of this book but unfortunately, that drive ended up feeling like a chore and that took some of the enjoyment out of reading.
I understand the story and the characters involved but as I read, I didn’t really feel like I was standing next to the characters and joining in with the story. It was sort of a weird ‘out of body experience’ where I could see myself reading the book but couldn’t put myself into the book.
Not only did this book make my brain hurt but after finishing it last night (Sat 12th), I had the most peculiar and creepy dreams centred around the characters and it proper weirded me out.
In hindsight, I can see what everyone means when they rave about Philippa Gregory’s books. However, I would not read one of her books again. I am glad to have finally read this book because I have been meaning to do it for such a long time but the way she writes is very hard for my brain to understand and that feeling of exhaustion made me feel completely flat and actually gave me a headache.
It’s rare nowadays for me to find a book that causes me so much of an issue. My difficulties with processing aren’t something I can control and stem from my chromosomal abnormality. I have worked very hard over the years to push past my difficulties and continue reading but even I have to admit at a certain point when something isn’t working.
This book didn’t work for me.