What if Anne Boleyn had given her king a son? That’s the premise of this debut novel from an author who seems likely to give the likes of Phillipa Gregory and Alison Weir a run for their Tudors.
In the summer of 2003, while reading a biography of Anne Boleyn, I was haunted by Anne’s final miscarriage in 1533: a baby boy that she lost on the very day of Catherine of Aragon’s funeral. Less than four months later, Anne herself would be executed — in no small measure because of that miscarriage.
“What if?” I wondered for months afterward. What if Anne had not lost her son, but gone on to give birth to the male heir Henry VIII had so desperately sought?
And on this fanfic premise, Anderson began.
The Boleyn King (Ballentine) is an absolutely gorgeous manifestation of that urge to bring an intriguing story forward. Sure, there is history but, in so many ways, this is history-plus-more and Anderson’s Henry IX is a winning young man born to be a king beyond all others. There are empires to secure, of course. And, before long, love to consider.
The Boleyn King is the first in a trilogy, so brilliantly conceived and richly executed, fans of bold, historical dramas are likely to gobble them up as soon as they appear. ◊
Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.