March 5, 2013

Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Update and Giveaways: March

Sorry I'm a few days late getting this up. I've had a very busy time at work lately! I will start off with updates on reviews. February saw four new reviews:

  • Fencing Mom reviewed Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn.
  • Jonah Knows Best reviewed Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII, Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy, and Secrets of the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan.

All reviews can be accessed on the February Page. If I left out any reviews, please let me know! 

For March, be sure to post your reviews (or a link to your reviews) as a comment on this post.

For February's Giveaway, I'm pleased to announce that Nannette (Fencing Mom) has won a copy of The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner! 

As with all my giveaways, the winner was chosen using number generator. Nannette, please e-mail me at everythingtudor"at" (replace the "at" with an @) to claim your prize!

I am in the process of putting together the giveaway for March, so keep an eye out for a separate post on that! 

Don't forget, you can sign up for the Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge through December 2013. Those not signed up for the Reading Challenge must leave a comment on The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge 2013 Page.


  1. My February review was too late so I will post here a link to my review of Weir's A Dangerous Inheritance. Review at

  2. That's ok! Thanks for posting :)

  3. I'm catching up in March on my readings since January...
    I've reviewed The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, by Robin Maxwell and Sovereign by C. J. Sansom.
    The reviews are available on my blog:

  4. This review is for Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Bolyen by Margaret Campbell Barnes. Originally published in 1949, and re-published in 2008.

    Deeply curious as a result of The Tudors miniseries, I wanted to know more about the life and times of Henry VIII. I debated between fiction and non-fiction, wanting to know what actually happened but, having been very moved by the characters, I really wanted to know what these people were thinking, what motivated them, and how they felt. I needed an historical fiction, something well researched and based around real events. I focused in on Anne Boleyn because I felt her story was really the most intriguing and perplexing – was she really so manipulative and ambitious? Did she love the king? Why did he feel she deserved to die? Brief Gaudy Hour is my first 'Tudor book' and was able to provide the answers I was looking for in a carefully detailed story that had me feeling as if I were actually witnessing it unfold before my very eyes.
    Anne’s story is a suspenseful maze of events – an innocent step in one direction, a forceful push here, then a clever turn there. Barnes illustrates the kind of life Anne came from; she delves into her mind, and shows the progress of her thoughts and motivations so that it is easy and enjoyable to come to understand and sympathize with her. Anne is presented neither as wholly innocent nor as a caricature of ‘the manipulative woman’. She wants to please the King whom she admires, but she also wants control of her life. While she is intelligent, careful and calculating, she is not entirely cold or scornful. She wants to protect herself and be a good person but, like any human, she makes mistakes. Emotional and reactive, she crumbles under the deception and scorn of her enemies as well as from her own bitterness, frustration and disappointment. The relationship between her and Henry is very believable, perhaps because it is so flawed. I was so frustrated for Anne, yet had compassion for Henry (perhaps because the story rarely enter’s his mind – I wanted to know his rage, his dark side). Overall, this was a very enjoyable read and made me fall more in love with both of them.

  5. Another catch up from January. This review is of Le Temps Viendra by Sarah Morris and is available on my blog:

  6. A catch up from end of February ... "The Men Who Would Be King" by Josephine Ross. An interesting introduction to the different men who courted Queen Elizabeth I, but a little too much pseudo psychology in explaining the decision to stay single (IMO)

    Esther Sorkin

  7. Review of 'The King's Damsel' by Kate Emerson on my blog:

  8. I have posted reviews of Gregory's The White Queen and The Red Queen, but these do not count toward my total as I read both last year. I wanted to review them as The Lady of the Rivers is among my next reads.

    I reviewed Katherine by Anya Seton (counts in challenge total).

    All of these reviews are available on my blog:

  9. Just finished Robert Hutchinson's "House of Treason", about the Howard family during the Tudors. Very interesting on both the struggle for re-instatement at court, after the first Duke died fighting for Richard at Bosworth and the aftermath, especially during the Reformation.. I rather think that many of them would be pleased with a real saint in the family (Philip Howard, a Catholic martyr under Queen Elizabeth)

    Esther Sorkin

  10. Thank heaven for train travel ... lots of reading time. John Schofield's biography, "The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell" is a fascinating look at an often-misunderstood personality. However, there is a flaw in his view of Cromwell's part in Anne Boleyn's fall (IMO) Schofield argues that Cromwell was working on annulling the marriage based on alleged "witnesses" who could establish Anne's pre-contract with Henry Percy when reports of her alleged "infidelity" sparked an "investigation", but fails to mention both (a) that Percy's wife tried to annul her marriage on that same basis in 1532 and it was denied because Percy swore there was no such agreement and (b) that Henry's affair with Mary Boleyn would be enough for an annulment in any event. I suppose Henry would prefer Anne's pre-contract, since it would still put the fault on others (Anne and Percy ... who didn't disclose it) and the adultery charges used would be a suitable plan "B" if Henry couldn't stand being at fault (as would be the case if the marriage was annulled, explicitly due to his affair with Mary, instead of the unspecified grounds actually cited ). Other than this omission, the book is a great anti-dote to the view of Cromwell that seems to infect a lot of otherwise great Tudor fiction (notably, Bolt's play "Man for All Seasons", but also "Anne of the Thousand Days")

    Esther Sorkin

  11. I have reviewed The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr by Sandra Byrd. The Review is available on my blog:

  12. My reviews for March (went back and posted January and February on their respective pages). (posting later this week)

  13. I have reviewed The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Suzannah Dunn and

    The Pleasure Place (Secrets of the Tudor Court #1) by Kate Emerson.

    Both reviews are available on my blog:


  14. I reviewed Between Two Queens by Kate Emerson. #2 in the Secrets of the Tudor Court Series.

    Review is on my blog:

    I think I've caught up!

  15. My reviews for March:

    The Secret Bride by Diane Haeger:

    In Bed with the Tudors by Amy Licence:

  16. My review for March is Eric Ives' Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery, and it's on my goodreads page:

  17. Last one for the month, PROMISE!! I have just devoured the third installment of Kate Emerson's Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree.

    Review is on my blog:

  18. This review is for "To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn" by Sandra Byrd

    What captured my interest was the title -- I was curious, did it refer to Anne’s death? (What/whom did she die for, I wonder?) Halfway through, I wondered if it referred to Anne's dear friend, Meg, her utter devotion, the act of sacrificing her own ambitions, desires, needs, to serve Anne? By the end of the book, I felt perhaps, in a way, that devotion and sacrifice does describe Anne’s death. Though “To Die For” did not seem like it was going to fuel my passionate adoration for Anne (a limitation of the story being told through an observer, rather than an analysis of Anne's actual thoughts) the description of her last hours is incredibly touching and purposeful. The true friendship between Anne and Meg, as well as the intriguing journey of Meg's true love and religious faith elicit admiration and encouragement, which is a wonderful contrast to the disgust brought on by the powerful, selfish, arrogant and unfaithful men in their lives. A very enjoyable read.

  19. BanditQueen:

    The Tudors by E Massie: King Takes Queen: From Henry Head of the Church to her Execution.

    We open up with the debate between Bishop John Fisher, friend and counsel of Queen Catherine and the Parliament still refusing to support Henry in his struggle with his conscience. Henry is left with an empty title.

    Shocked by Henry's audacity even Brandon will not give his consent and the title is accepted as if no-one objects they are taken to agree, an old principle in law. Henry then realises that the clergy are playing games and are holding out on him. Henry demands that they submit to him or be charged with the same offenses as the late Cardinal Wolsey: taking bribes and fixing the books. To his utter delight a cowed clergy agree and the King gets his way in Parliament. The break with Rome has begun.
    We are treated to poisoning of Bishop Fisher, to intrigue and to the taking of sides by all. Brandon tells Henry Anne is sleeping around, is banished from court, but comes back later on for Anne's elevation to Marquis of Pembroke.

    We also move to France and the reception of Anne as Henry's future wife and Queen. Dancing, merriment and Anne is soon with child: the future Elizabeth.

    We move next to what appears to be a quarrel with Charles Brandon and the Boleyn faction, resulting in the murder of his friend and supporter Sir William Pennington. Here history differs a little: it was a quarrel with Norfolk's retainers but the dramatic point is made.

    Charles Brandon is making a point not to support Anne but is clearly torn between loyalty to Henry and sympathy to Catherine.

    The Coronation are covered next and the birth of Elizabeth. We are left with a disappointed Henry and a very lonely Anne Boleyn.

    As Acts of Parliament force oaths to Anne and Henry, Charles takes himself off and is clearly unhappy at the court with Anne rising in Henry's affections. He submits and returns to court, to Henry's clear delight.

    Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher are imprisoned and executed for their faith and Anne is blamed. A miscarriage and the death of both men, sour the relations with Henry and Anne, and things are not the same from this time onwards. It is Summer 1535.

    Anne is driven to dark thoughts: she feels that even Mary and Catherine, from their prisons are able to harm her. She begins to drink and to quarrel with Henry on a regular basis.

    Anne makes an enemy of Thomas Cromwell over the use of the money from the religious houses and is now in grave danger. She tries to appeal to the French Ambassador and is clearly fighting for her life. While Henry finds love and hope in the home of Sir John Seymour, Anne carries his child again. Henry has Sir John's daughter Jane brought to court to serve Anne, and he falls in love with her.

    Hearing of the death of Catherine Henry is relieved but Anne stuns the court with yellow! Henry, finding peace with Jane Seymour, favours her at a joust. But Henry falls, leaving his friends to pray for the life of the prostrate King. Anne is told the news and faints and weeps. She must be careful as she carries his son. It is not to be however, as she miscarries a few days after Henry recovers, having found Jane on his knee. Her fate is sealed. Anne and her ladies are questioned, Henry's friends are arrested, and she is tried for adultery and treason.

    Despite the condemnation of Anne and five men, we are forced to feel more sorry for Henry in the first instance as he weeps for the betrayal and undoing of his long love affair with Anne. Anne, finally is shown to us as the sacrifice so as Henry can make his new love his own, as he plans to take Jane to wife. In the end Anne, condemned must prepare for death. Delays follow, Henry is anxious for it to be over, but must wait, his soul tormented. Anne declares herself innocent, and he must face painful truths.

    Finally it is over, Anne is brought to her bitter end with one stroke. Henry breakfasts, life goes on.

  20. Another review ... this one of Alison Plowden's "Two Queens in One Isle", which focuses on the relationship between Elizabeth I and her cousin, the queen of Scots. A good introduction, and Plowden is a great writer; recommended for those who may want a dose of reality to put the latest film or novel into context. I agree with her conclusion that, after the birth of her son, Mary became superfluous, she doesn't go into enough detail as to why. For example, I think that with something like 5 kings prior to Mary becoming rulers as children, the Scots were too used to such regencies to be afraid of them ... and the nobility liked the power they could exercise ... but I am not sure.

    Esther Sorkin


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