A tremendously vivid, page-turning and plausible novel that depicts the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, the most spirited, independent and courageous of Henry’s queens, as viewed from both the bedrooms and the kitchens of the Tudor court.
Everyone knows the story of Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII divorced his longstanding, long-suffering, older, Spanish wife for a young, black-eyed English beauty, and, in doing so, severed England from Rome and indeed from the rest of the western world. Then, when Henry had what he wanted, he managed a mere three years of marriage before beheading his wife for alleged adultery with several men, among them his own best friend and her own brother.
This is the context for Suzannah Dunn's wonderful new novel, which is about – and told by – two women: Anne Boleyn, king's mistress and fated queen; and Lucy Cornwallis, the king's confectioner, an employee of the very highest status, who made the centrepiece of each of the feasts to mark the important occasions in Anne's ascent. There's another link between them, though: the lovely Mark Smeaton, wunderkind musician, the innocent on whom, ultimately, Anne's downfall hinged…
Suzannah Dunn has all the equipment needed for literary-commercial success: wit, a mastery of dialogue, brilliant characterization, lack of pretence, and good humour. The Queen of Subtleties adds to that mix a wonderfully balanced, strong story; Dunn has plumped for a fascinating retelling of one of the most often-told, most compelling stories of our islands' history. In doing so, she's turning from contemporary stories to historical fiction. The result is sensational.
'THE QUEEN OF SUBTLETIES offers a stunningly refreshing way of retelling an old story. I often abandon historical novels nowadays, but I really could not put this one down. It brings Anne Boleyn to life as never before, and, probably for the first time ever in fiction, Henry VIII emerges as a truly credible character in an authentic setting.'
Alison Weir, author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII
‘The story of Anne Boleyn has been told many times, but never in such an earthy, plausible way, straight from the bedrooms and kitchens of Henry VIII.’ Glamour
About the author
Suzannah Dunn is the author of nine previous books of fiction: ‘Darker Days Than Usual’, ‘Blood Sugar’, ‘Past Caring’, ‘Quite Contrary’, ‘Venus Flaring’, ‘Tenterhooks’, ‘Commencing Our Descent’, ‘The Queen of Subtleties’ and her most recent success ‘The Sixth Wife’. She lives in Shropshire.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I love any books about Anne Boleyn but this one annoyed me at times. Some historical information was changed which the author makes reference to in her notes at the end, however I struggle to see why some of the changes were necessary. The author has modernised a lot of the language which could've been an interesting take on Anne's take, however it also portrays Anne in not the most flattering of lights at times. The book was Anne's tale to her daughter Elizabeth, and yet all it does is tell Anne's famous story - what an opportunity to share Anne's thoughts about leaving her daughter - another opportunity which alas I feel was missed. Overall still an enjoyable book about this fascinating story, but not the best I have read by any means.