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How much liberty is too much liberty?
March 20, 2016
10:58 pm
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mallory
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In historical fiction we know that all authors must take some liberties when filling in the blanks, motives, etc. to make a cohesive and interesting story. When is too much “too much”?

Take TOBG for example. I know a lot of people dislike a lot of things about that book (myself included) but what is it just the depiction of Anne and the events surrounding her that upsets everyone? Or were the liberties taken in Mary’s affair with the King – going with him being the father of both children, being in love with her and continuing to sleep with her to help keep his attraction in the Boleyn family – also upsetting? Or is it more so just upsetting because PG has tried to play some of these scenarios, like Anne committing at least one murder, as fact rather than a possibility?

I’m working on writing a historical fiction novel about Anne and I’m just wondering what you guys feel about this because as I write there are some holes in history I have to fill, like explaining the dislike between Henry’s sister Mary and Anne, but this requires some fabrication on my end and it makes me nervous.

March 21, 2016
9:47 am
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Biekm
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mallory said

In historical fiction we know that all authors must take some liberties when filling in the blanks, motives, etc. to make a cohesive and interesting story. When is too much “too much”?

Take TOBG for example. I know a lot of people dislike a lot of things about that book (myself included) but what is it just the depiction of Anne and the events surrounding her that upsets everyone? Or were the liberties taken in Mary’s affair with the King – going with him being the father of both children, being in love with her and continuing to sleep with her to help keep his attraction in the Boleyn family – also upsetting? Or is it more so just upsetting because PG has tried to play some of these scenarios, like Anne committing at least one murder, as fact rather than a possibility?

I’m working on writing a historical fiction novel about Anne and I’m just wondering what you guys feel about this because as I write there are some holes in history I have to fill, like explaining the dislike between Henry’s sister Mary and Anne, but this requires some fabrication on my end and it makes me nervous.

I think it is a little bit of everything, but the main thing where it always comes down to – for me – is that she depicts herself as a historian, which she is not. It’s very confusing and validating for people who do not know the historical facts, as I must confess it was for me before I really started to learn more about Tudor history. Although strictly as a reader I enjoy her books – I love them on this basis! – it really upsets me that she makes assumptions wherefore there is no actual evidence in primary sources and then names them true. Is is very seductive for readers who don’t know any better because she says she is a historian. I know I am repetitive in this, but it really would be much easier if she just calls herself a writer and points out which parts of her novels are fiction and which are not. I still read her books though – she’s a great storyteller and lady on that base. But, with all the respect to PG, I consider her a writer and not a historian – end of my rant Smile

March 21, 2016
10:24 am
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Biekm
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mallory said

In historical fiction we know that all authors must take some liberties when filling in the blanks, motives, etc. to make a cohesive and interesting story. When is too much “too much”?

Take TOBG for example. I know a lot of people dislike a lot of things about that book (myself included) but what is it just the depiction of Anne and the events surrounding her that upsets everyone? Or were the liberties taken in Mary’s affair with the King – going with him being the father of both children, being in love with her and continuing to sleep with her to help keep his attraction in the Boleyn family – also upsetting? Or is it more so just upsetting because PG has tried to play some of these scenarios, like Anne committing at least one murder, as fact rather than a possibility?

I’m working on writing a historical fiction novel about Anne and I’m just wondering what you guys feel about this because as I write there are some holes in history I have to fill, like explaining the dislike between Henry’s sister Mary and Anne, but this requires some fabrication on my end and it makes me nervous.

But I wish you much luck on your novel. I am working on one also, but I’m currently only in the research fase. It is so much fun to do, though! But I know what you mean – when all sources are silent or are revealing not much, it is really hard to make a judgement on things. But I think there is evidence neither for an extremely good relationship between Anne and Mary nor a extremely bad one. But I do know that Mary’s son Henry became Annes ward when his father William Carey died and although PG portrays this as Anne stealing Mary’s son, Claire Ridgway has pointed out that this wasn’t a bad thing – to the contrary: this meant that Henry Carey was well provided for, a really nice thing for Anne to do. In my opinion this points in the direction that they shared at least some sisterly love. Although Mary wasn’t there or begged the king for mercy when Anne and George got in serious trouble, could she be blamed for this? Who knows what might have happened. It is a very hard thing to judge people, when we know so little about who they were or how they felt or thought on things or what their motives were. Although we know a little more about Anne, all we know about Mary Boleyn can be written on the back of a postcard (I think dr. Eric Ives has said this). Nevertheless, Claire Ridgway has written an excellent article on the TOBG on this site.
My kind regards, Biekm

March 23, 2016
8:58 am
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mallory
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Biekm said

I think it is a little bit of everything, but the main thing where it always comes down to – for me – is that she depicts herself as a historian, which she is not. It’s very confusing and validating for people who do not know the historical facts, as I must confess it was for me before I really started to learn more about Tudor history. Although strictly as a reader I enjoy her books – I love them on this basis! – it really upsets me that she makes assumptions wherefore there is no actual evidence in primary sources and then names them true. Is is very seductive for readers who don’t know any better because she says she is a historian. I know I am repetitive in this, but it really would be much easier if she just calls herself a writer and points out which parts of her novels are fiction and which are not. I still read her books though – she’s a great storyteller and lady on that base. But, with all the respect to PG, I consider her a writer and not a historian – end of my rant Smile

So, in summation of this post, it’s that she tries to relay everything as fact or probable? I totally get that. I like when authors add in something about certain things being fictionalized (although I would hope people would know that personalities are a given in that department since we can never really truly know someone’s mind).

March 23, 2016
9:01 am
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mallory
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Biekm said

But I wish you much luck on your novel. I am working on one also, but I’m currently only in the research fase. It is so much fun to do, though! But I know what you mean – when all sources are silent or are revealing not much, it is really hard to make a judgement on things. But I think there is evidence neither for an extremely good relationship between Anne and Mary nor a extremely bad one. But I do know that Mary’s son Henry became Annes ward when his father William Carey died and although PG portrays this as Anne stealing Mary’s son, Claire Ridgway has pointed out that this wasn’t a bad thing – to the contrary: this meant that Henry Carey was well provided for, a really nice thing for Anne to do. In my opinion this points in the direction that they shared at least some sisterly love. Although Mary wasn’t there or begged the king for mercy when Anne and George got in serious trouble, could she be blamed for this? Who knows what might have happened. It is a very hard thing to judge people, when we know so little about who they were or how they felt or thought on things or what their motives were. Although we know a little more about Anne, all we know about Mary Boleyn can be written on the back of a postcard (I think dr. Eric Ives has said this). Nevertheless, Claire Ridgway has written an excellent article on the TOBG on this site.
My kind regards, Biekm

Good luck to you as well! I’m in the research phase too but also at the point where I realize there are definitely holes I’ll have to fill on my own (as I knew there would be) and just trying to figure out what to do with those.

If there’s no evidence to suggest an extremely good or bad relationship between Mary and Anne, is it really that bad to portray the relationship as such? With a disclaimer, of course. I read the post on the TOBG like you suggested and there were a lot of helpful comments there, so thanks for that! It seems like the most upsetting things for people are when there are no disclaimers or it’s trying to be passed off as fact and the rather unfortunate “I don’t like how they did this character” since everyone has their own thoughts about them.

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