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Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by…
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Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn

by Margaret Campbell Barnes

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This is a decent enough Boleyn novel, telling the standard story of Anne's early days at court, the love affair with Harry Percy, her rise and her fall. I particularly thought the way her relationship with her brother was portrayed, as well as the way Anne was able to subtly alienate King Henry against Cardinal Wolsey, was fine.

That doesn't keep the book from the reading like a Harlequin romance at times. For example: "Love like this was a rebirth. It burned away all the cruelty and bitterness, running over in a measure of human kindness that made the world a lovely place. Crushed against her lover's heart, all the long disciplined desire in her rose to its consummation. Metamorphosed by love, she knew it to be no longer something evil -- some snare, some super-abundant force to be feared -- but something natural, sane and good. In Percy's arms that night Anne lived the brief rich transport of her life. Throwing aside security and favor, she made the reckless surrender which could have kept her sweet."

Fortunately, passages like that are not that common, and mainly confined to the first half of the book. ( )
  meggyweg | Feb 17, 2010 |
I consider this to be one of the best novels ever written about Anne Boleyn. A worthy competitor is Norah Loft's The Concubine. To my mind, a really good historical, biographical novel deserves to take its place with serious nonfiction. The best that such a novel can do is to imagine the person as he / she might have been, filling in the lacunae that history leaves us. This can do as much for us in imagining the past as history does.

This novel is told from Anne's point of view, although not in the first person. ( )
  juglicerr | Aug 12, 2009 |
Brief Gaudy Hour is a historical fiction book about Ann Boleyn that I can say I really enjoyed. I felt that Ann was a very human character, and a believable mix between ambitious/vengeful and loving or swept up in circumstances she can't really control. I tend to dislike the Ann Boleyn books that portray her as an utter victim (the king says he loves me! And when I refuse him, he says I am just being coy! And now I am to be queen? Oh my, how confusing!), but of course portraying her as completely heartless snake, while at least more interesting, isn't all that much better as far as realistic characterization goes. I think Barnes walked the line of Ann's motivations very well, and I so enjoyed it that I've ordered another one of her books from the library ( )
1 vote legxleg | Aug 1, 2009 |
Even though this is a historical novel only, it seemed as well-researched as any non-fiction biography. It is also a little more biased than most works about Anne Boleyn. ( )
  TheCelticSelkie | Aug 27, 2007 |
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Epigraph
Verily,

I swear, 'tis better to be lowly born,

And range with humble livers content,

Than to be perk'd up in a glist'ring grief

And wear a golden sorrow.


Anne Bullen in Act II, Scene III, of Shakepeare's King Henry the Eighth
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To my husband
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“Nan! Nan! Come in and be fitted for your new dresses to go to Court!”
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The enigmatic Anne Boleyn comes to life in this charming, brilliant portrayal by acclaimed British novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes. The infamous love of King Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn undertook a rocky journey from courtier to Queen of England. A meticulous researcher, Barnes immerses readers in this intrigue and in the lush, glittery world of the Tudor Court. The beauty and charms of Anne Boleyn bewitched the most powerful man in the world, King Henry VIII, but her resourcefulness and cleverness were not enough to stop the malice of her enemies. Her swift rise to power quickly became her own undoing. Barnes brings to light Boleyn s humanity and courage, giving readers an intimate look at a young woman struggling to find her own way in a world dominated by men and adversaries. For Anglophiles and history buffs alike, Brief Gaudy Hour is a joy.
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The Timeless Story of History's Most Intriguing Heroine.

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