Thursday, December 1

Book Review: The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn

Author: Suzannah Dunn
Title: The Queen of Subtleties
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: paperback
Published: September 14, 2004
Where I Got It: My shelf (Used book store)

Anne Boleyn and Lucy Cornwallis: queen and
confectioner, fatefully linked in a court
rife with intrigue and treachery. She was the dark-eyed English beauty who captivated King Henry VIII, only to die at his behest three years after they were married. She was both manipulator and pawn, a complex, misunderstood mélange of subtlety and fire. Her name was Anne Boleyn.

This has certainly been collecting dust on my shelf for a while now. I don't even remember what used book store I bought this from! Eeek. Thank goodness for the TBR pile reading challenge I signed up for in 2022.

We follow Anne Boleyn and Lucy Cornwallis. One is the Queen of England and the other is a queen confectioner. They are fatefully linked in a court rife with intrigue and treachery. 

The fate of Anne Boleyn always hits me pretty hard. I have always had a strong connection with her. Her life was tragic...all the wives of Henry VIII were tragic in some way. He was a toxic man of his time. I think he was partially insane if you want my honest opinion. 

But this was very different. Not only do we get Anne's story told from her own pen, but we get to see Lucy Cornwallis. According to the author in the notes, Lucy is loosely based on an actual "Mrs. Cornwallis" that was a confectioner. She was the only woman in the household's two hundred kitchen staff. How fun! Don't envy her though...what a terrible job being around all that intrigue and treachery. Made me cry when we learn she was in love with Mark. SOBS. I liked Lucy. 

I wasn't a huge fan of this depiction of Anne. There were times she seemed TOO cruel. Yes, she spoke her mind and had a temper on her (from what historians can gather), but in the first chapter or two, she was just plain MEAN and LEWD. Like woah! She also was painted as purely innocent at the beginning. Anne knew how to play the game thanks to her education in France. It's true...she didn't want to JUST be a mistress...she wanted to be a wife. Catherine was one step out, so she took that gamble. Sadly...she lost when she couldn't give Henry what she wanted. Was she innocent at the very beginning of the courtship? Maybe at first she didn't want anything to do with Henry, but her ambition and family loyalty won out. Was she innocent of the crimes in the end? Heck ya, but she had her own demons I am sure.  

I also really struggled with the modern language. Some sprinkled in is okay. I don't expect this to be purely Tudor-era/Shakespearean talk, BUT play it like the shows and movies do. There were a lot of lewd words that just didn't fit the times or even the characters. At one point Anne flat-out cusses Henry out (which the asshat TOTALLY deserved) was too much sometimes. I can look past a lot of modern slips in writing, but it for sure crossed the line and I couldn't ignore it. 

The ending was good. I loved the last message Anne left for her daughter. THAT is something I can totally see Anne writing down for her kid. It seemed the perfect advice. It made me really sad....Anne would have been SO proud that her kid was able to make it through and be glorious. 

All-in-all, this had some good moments. I really loved the change in narration. Lucy was a good character! I really enjoyed learning about Lucy and reading about her journey. I enjoyed some of the bits with this Anne. However, there were just too many modern words and so forth that didn't settle well with me. I'll give this 2 stars. 


- TBR Reading Challenge (#9)


Blodeuedd said...

Eh, not the one for me either

Carole Rae said...

Don't blame ya. I'm really bummed