Sunday 24 April 2016

LA PETITE BOULAIN (Above all others: The Lady Anne Book 1) by Gemma Lawrence

5 GOLD stars

Fictional account of the early life of Anne Boleyn

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads HERE

Why did I love this book so much?  Apart from the fact that Gemma Lawrence is a magical writer and you can feel the love for her subject oozing through the words, apart from the clever and subtle use of intricate research, it's because it shows the influences in Anne Boleyn's early life that made her the person she became, and a view of her other than the one so often portrayedIn La Petite Boulain, Anne is not the selfish, ambitious ice queen of Phillipa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, for instance, but a serious, extraordinarily intelligent girl with great insight into the human psyche, a voracious appetite for many aspects of education, loyalty, and high moral standards.  A thinker, a participant but also an astute observer in the game of courtly love, a woman who saw past the corruption and pretensions of the powerful church and nobility, with a genuine desire for change for the good of all.

Let us not forget that she was the mother of one of the greatest monarchs in English history; Elizabeth I did not only inherit her strength and wisdom from her father.   This first book in The Lady Anne series depicts Anne's happy childhood at Hever castle, then her removal to various royal courts in France.  Reading about how she was influenced by the great and noble women who took her under their wing, it is easy to see why she made such a huge impression on her return to the court of Henry VIII (though we have to wait for the next book to read Ms Lawrence's take on these events!).  

Tudor addicts like myself often debate whether or not Anne really loved Henry VIII, if she was driven by ambition for herself, or was merely a pawn in the games of her father and her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk.  Gemma Lawrence portrays Anne as a practical idealist, a romantic; it is not unthinkable that a girl such as herself might have fallen in love with the handsome, charismatic king.  How his taking her sister, Mary, as a mistress must have irked her competitive spirit.

Aside from the portrayal of Anne herself, I loved this book for its comment on the lot of women during this period, of the way in which it shows how the people of five hundred years ago saw life, the world, the social structure, religion.  So often the story of Henry VIII and his six wives begins when he casts off Katherine of Aragon for Anne, but in this book we see how it all began.  

This part of the series begins and ends with Anne in the Tower, shortly before her execution.  It's a terrific book, and I have just one warning: if you get it, as you really SHOULD, be prepared to groan in despair when you've finished it, as I did, because the next installment is yet to be published!  Soon, soon....

THE BASTARD PRINCESS by Gemma Lawrence reviewed HERE

THE HERETIC HEIR by Gemma Lawrence reviewed HERE


  1. This review makes me really want to read the book, so thanks.

    1. You, in particular, would love it. Gemma Lawrence loves the Lady Anne as we do :)

  2. Having recently read and enjoyed The Heretic Heir, this books is very interesting to me.