A powerful and constant friendship between two women is a rare thing to find in historical fiction novels. Often women are pitted against one another in rivalry for a man or even power. Historical fiction author, Sandra Byrd is changing that with her series of novels on Tudor queens and their trusted and beloved ladies-in-waiting/friends. Byrd’s first novel of the series, “To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn” is the story of the constant and true friendship between Anne Boleyn and her best friend, Meg Wyatt. This is a story about the power of friendship and how it can get you through the toughest times.
“To Die For” is the story of not only both Anne Boleyn and Meg Wyatt, but their evolving friendship. The two grew up together as a girlhood friends in Kent, but their lives took them in opposite directions. Anne went to France to serve a French queen and became a cultured, witty, and glamorous young woman while Meg stayed at home dealing with family tragedy, arranged marriages, and a longing for a man who chose the priesthood. When the girls are reuinted, everything changes for Anne as she becomes the object of desire for the powerful and dynamic King Henry VIII of England. Anne takes Meg to court with her where Meg witnesses firsthand the drama, scheming, and often times, cruelty of the court. Meg is with Anne every step of the way and is a constant friend and companion to her during Anne’s ascension to the throne as King Henry’s wife, her giving birth to Princess Elizabeth, and her downfall and eventual execution on the orders of her own husband. Meg’s loyalty and caring of Anne stands out as does Anne’s dependence on and love of Meg. Another highlight of the story is the battle with faith that Meg has and the Reformation in England that changed religion there forever. “To Die For” is about friendship and faith, two important things that a person holds dear.
“To Die For” is one of the more unique novels on Anne Boleyn. This Anne Boleyn is not bad-tempered, cruel, and calculating as sometimes even the better portrayals of her offer, but intelligent, wise, and complex. Anne truly loves King Henry, is devoted to the Reformation, and adores those in her inner circle, specifically her best friend, Meg. This is one of the most complex portrayals of Anne Boleyn in historical fiction. Also strong is the portrayal of Meg Wyatt. Meg is often regarded in history as just the sister of Thomas Wyatt, an admirer of Anne Boleyn and a lady-in-waiting. This novel fleshes out their friendship showing their childhood bond, their devotion to one another, and the respect they had for each. Meg is a fabulous female character who adores her close family, her friends, and is intelligent, sharp, and strong. Meg’s questioning of her faith, her struggles in her love for Will, her youthful love who became a priest, and her observations on the court are brilliant. Meg’s final act towards King Henry in relation to the doomed Anne is shocking, breathtaking, and fitting considering the friendship between the women.
This novel celebrates women. It offers strong and smart women who took life into their own hands. It also celebrates the bonds of female friendship. This isn’t a novel about weak and simpering women or catty rivalries and arguments, but the bond between two formidable women. It is a refreshing work! Women, real life, historical, or fictional should be celebrated like this!
To purchase “To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn”: http://www.amazon.com/Die-Novel-Anne-Boleyn/dp/1439183112
For more information on Sandra Byrd: http://www.sandrabyrd.com/