Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Review: To Die For: A Novel of Ann Boleyn by Sandra Byrd

To Die For, is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.  Meg's childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.
Though much of Meg’s story is fictionalized, it is drawn from known facts. The Wyatt family and the Boleyn family were neighbors and friends, and perhaps even distant cousins. Meg’s brother, Thomas Wyatt, wooed Anne Boleyn and ultimately came very close to the axe blade for it. Two Wyatt sisters attended Anne at her death, and at her death, she gave one of them her jeweled prayer book—Meg.

 I have developed a love for historical fiction over the last year or so.  Fiction that tells the true stories of historical figures, just in a fictionalized way.  I'm especially enjoying tales of the English royalty with it's centuries of stories to tell - mystery, murder, intrigue - what's not to like?

In To Die For:  A Novel of Ann Boleyn, Sandra Byrd tells the story of Henry VIII and Boleyn through Ann's best friend, Meg Wyatt.  While history shows two Wyatt sisters, the author admits to using "poetic license" in making Meg Ann's best friend.  It was for the good of the story, so I can easily accept this assignation.  The first person narrative is a surprise, but quite refreshing. 

The book brings to life the historical figures.  The author describes the excesses of Henry VIII, but doesn't over emphasize them.  The story is Ann Boleyn's and her love for her king and husband.  As such, I sometimes was impatient with the Meg Wyatt storyline, as I wanted to get back to Ann.  This novel left me wondering, did she truly believe her marriage was legal, or did she merely go along with Henry because she loved him and wanted to be Queen?

To Die For is not a fast reading book.  At times I felt the storyline dragged with the court scenes where nothing much was happening.  Then the ending with the trials seemed to speed through.  I would have preferred a little more time spent on that part of the story.  But overall, this is a solid, very well-written novel.

*Disclaimer:  I received this book free from the publisher, I was not required to write a positive review.

I give this book 3 Bookworms.

Paperback:  352 pages
Publisher:  Howard Books; Original edition (August 9, 2011)
ISBN-10:  1439183112
ISBN-13:  978-1439183113
Format:  Ebook
File Size:  759 KB
Print Length:  352 pages
Sold by:  Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.


  1. I have always been interested in Ann Boleyn. This sounds like a good read.

  2. Great review! I'm really looking forward to this one. I love historical fiction and the Tudors.

    The Musings of ALMYBNENR

  3. I always enjoy reading about Ann Boleyn. I have read many Philippa Gregory novels and fell in love with historical fiction. This sounds like a book I would really enjoy. I just put it on my TBR list. Can't wait! Great review!