Posted By Claire on August 30, 2011
Anne Boleyn Files visitor, Tina, has kindly alerted me to the blurb of Carolly Erickson’s upcoming book, “The Favored Queen”, which is due out on the 27th September. It is described as “a powerful and moving novel about Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, who married him only days after the execution of Anne Boleyn and ultimately lost her own life in giving him the son he badly needed to guarantee the Tudor succession.” Sounds good so far, but then we have the following blurb:-
“Born into an ambitious noble family, young Jane Seymour is sent to Court as a Maid of Honor to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s aging queen. She is devoted to her mistress and watches with empathy as the calculating Anne Boleyn contrives to supplant her as queen. Anne’s single-minded intriguing threatens all who stand in her way; she does not hesitate to arrange the murder of a woman who knows a secret so dark that, if revealed, would make it impossible for the king to marry Anne.
Once Anne becomes queen, no one at court is safe, and Jane herself becomes the object of Anne’s venomous rage when she suspects Jane has become the object of the king’s lust. Henry, fearing that Anne’s inability to give him a son is a sign of divine wrath, asks Jane to become his next queen. Deeply reluctant to embark on such a dangerous course, Jane must choose between her heart and her loyalty to the king.”
Bang! Bang! Yes, that is my head banging on my desk! Aaaaggghhh! Yes, that’s me screaming! Do join me!
Now, I know that I will receive comments and emails from people telling me to calm down and chill out, after all, it’s only fiction and there’s no need to take it so seriously, but I know from first hand experience the damage that “The Other Boleyn Girl” has done to Anne Boleyn’s reputation. Not a week goes by when I don’t receive emails from people asking me whether Anne Boleyn really did murder someone, whether she really did commit incest and whether she really was a prize b**ch, or I get attacked for defending a woman who was the devil incarnate. That is the power of “The Other Boleyn Girl”!
Much of the confusion which stems from “The Other Boleyn Girl” comes, I feel, from Philippa Gregory’s representation of herself as an historian and the way that she writes about Anne in the accompanying notes. People are led to believe that “The Other Boleyn Girl” is based on fact and that Anne Boleyn was really like that, when, actually, there is no evidence that Anne was involved in anyone’s murder or that she ever considered sleeping with her brother – although I was told recently that this would be the natural thing for her to consider seeing as she was having problems getting pregnant by the king! What I’m wondering, and it’s also a comment that Tina made when she sent me details on this new novel, is whether the fact that Ms Erickson has actually written a biography of Anne Boleyn in the past (“Mistress Anne”) will make people think that Anne Boleyn really did threaten everyone who stood in her way and plot someone’s murder. On the Macmillan books website, Carolly Erickson is described as a “distinguished historian” so how many people are going to think that she is writing about the real Anne Boleyn?
Just when I feel that the tide is turning, that the message is spreading about the real Anne Boleyn and “The Other Boleyn Girl” is releasing its hold on the world, this book comes along. Will the mythical Anne Boleyn rise from the shadows once more? Will the truth be annihilated by fiction? Who knows, but I’ll be battling for the truth, don’t worry!
As much as I don’t want to spend my money on this novel, I’m just going to have to, after all, the publisher’s blurb is often misleading. If you hear some screaming emanating from this website at the end of September then you’ll know what it is!
By the way, I’m not challenging the idea of free speech or attacking historical fiction, which I love, I’m simply worried about the future fall-out. I’d love to hear your ideas and feel free to tell me to stop over-reacting and to get down off my soapbox!