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To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn Paperback – August 9, 2011
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“In To Die For, Sandra Byrd gifts the reader with a fresh look at Anne Boleyn through the eyes of her lifelong friend Meg Wyatt. But Meg commands her own interest and respect in the Tudor world of triumph and tragedy. Readers will be drawn to the events, beautifully depicted, but also to the emotions, skillfully conveyed. A new Tudor historical to treasure.”
—Karen Harper, author of The Queen's Governess
"In this moving story of a friendship that survives a queen's rise and fall, Sandra Byrd reaches beyond the familiar stereotypes to give us the story of two remarkable women: Anne Boleyn and Meg Wyatt. A refreshingly three-dimensional Anne and a Meg of courage and integrity make this novel a must for your Tudor library."
—Susan Higginbotham, author of The Queen of Last Hopes
“Ms. Byrd shows a wonderful sense of time and place in her novel, To Die For. Her characters and her story are drawn with precision. The new life she breathes into well-worn notables like Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, as seen through her character, Meg, is simply captivating.”
—Diane Haeger, author of The Queen's Rival
“Most readers of Tudor historicals think they know Queen Anne Boleyn. They'll meet a very different Anne in Sandra Byrd's wonderfully told To Die For. Anne's life-long friend Meg Wyatt tells the tale of Anne's rise from lady-in-waiting to the arms of King Henry VIII and the throne of England until her tragic fall. Meg, who rises and falls with Anne, seeks her own lost love and faith. Anne's influence during the English Reformation is an integral and refreshing part of this story, one that Byrd tells with authority, adding a new and honest dimension to Anne's life and death . . . A novel to savor and return to.”
—Jeane Westin, author of His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester
“Sandra Byrd's first venture into historical fiction is nothing short of brilliant. All the Tudor details are perfectly placed, like gemstones in a royal crown, yet there is far more to this compelling novel than mere history. The characters live and breathe, their struggles are real, their longings palpable. Seeing Anne Boleyn's story through the eyes of her closest friend provides a well-rounded, even sympathetic view of a woman often vilified in history books. As Meg's story unfolds, Sandra Byrd does Philippa Gregory one better, giving readers a wider glimpse of history, a greater measure of hope, and an ending that satisfies at the deepest level. Simply put, To Die For is the best historical novel I've read in many a season, a masterpiece of history and heart.”
—Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times bestselling author of Mine Is the Night
“If you love Philippa Gregory, you’ll adore Sandra Byrd! Through the eyes of Anne Boleyn’s most trusted friend, Meg Wyatt, Ms. Byrd seamlessly weaves sacred threads of history with those of captivating imagination to take us on an unforgettable journey of the heart. The paths we travel—at once both familiar and new—are bathed in hope that casts an eternal light on the characters’ hearts, and the reader’s. I've no doubt that if Anne and Meg could somehow read To Die For, they would thank Ms. Byrd for telling their stories with such grace and beauty.”
—Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of Within My Heart and The Inheritance
"As a reader who appreciates well-researched historical fiction, I truly enjoyed Sandra Byrd's To Die For. Anne Boleyn has long held a fascination for contemporary readers, and I was pleased to discover this account of her remarkable life. Through her charm, intelligence, and wit, she changed the course of history."
—Angela Hunt, author of The Fine Art of Insincerity
Starred Review "Told through the eyes of Anne Boleyn’s best friend, Meg Wyatt, this stunning novel by French Twist series author Byrd re-examines Boleyn’s life from her beginnings to her rise and eventual fall in the Tudor court. Meg has her own tale of young love and pride, having turned her back on her childhood love when he accepted a religious calling. She travels with Anne to court and finds her life intimately tied to Anne’s changing fortunes. Byrd’s novel adds a depth to the character of Anne Boleyn that is often missing in other novels, and she brings the history to life in exquisite detail. Readers might indeed find themselves sympathizing with the young queen. Highly recommended for fans of Philippa Gregory."
"With the vivid descriptions the author provides, To Die For is an interesting work of historical fiction that offers a fresh look at the court of King Henry VIII."
—Romantic Times (4 stars)
About the Author
Award-winning and bestselling author Sandra Byrd has published four dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including Mist of Midnight, Bride of a Distant Isle (A Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick), and her most recent, A Lady in Disguise. For nearly two decades, Sandra has shared her secrets with the many writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area.
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Top Customer Reviews
I don't think I am ever going to get tired of reading Anne Boleyn's story. I know her story, beginning, middle, and end, and yet I still keep picking up novels related to her life. Not unexpectedly then did Sandra Byrd's To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn catch my attention. I set upon this historical fiction read expecting what I have read in many other accounts of Anne Boleyn's life; what I found was something wholly different and exciting.
To Die For opens in 1518, with Anne Boleyn still a maiden living in her father's home. She is but a child and often found dallying with her best and most loyal friend, Meg Wyatt. The two girls are young, naïve, and living only for the moment when their respective father's will make them a marriage match both agreeable and beneficial. For Anne, there is little concern this will happen as she is smart, beautiful, and from a respected and wealthy family bordering on noble. Meg Wyatt on the other hand is also intelligent and quite lovely but her family is neither as wealthy nor noble as Anne's. Neither girl can imagine the journey they are to embark on in the ensuing years.
Byrd recounts what is historically known about Anne Boleyn's life but is one of the very few authors who does not make Anne out to be a conniving, scheming, and heartless bitch bent only on achieving her own goals and desires. Instead, as Byrd traces the events of Anne's life she takes care to present her as an intelligent girl who unfortunately falls prey to the desires of a man significantly more powerful and persuasive than herself. Anne is presented as a girl who well and truly loved Henry Tudor and wished nothing more than to be by his side and please him with the birth of a male heir. Furthermore, Byrd goes even further and presents Henry (as I have always imagined he was) as a grown and selfish child who repeatedly set aside or killed those he thought could no longer further his plans or fulfill his desires. As we well know, Anne was one of those who fell from Henry's favor.
As Anne's story progresses, she is attended almost constantly by her long-time friend Meg Wyatt. In her own way, Meg is just as tragic as Anne and is often subject to the whims of the men in her life - if she is parted from Anne, it is due to one of those whims. Meg feels called to be by Anne's side and truly believes it is her duty to advise and guide Anne as well as to protect her at every turn. In many ways, Meg is far, far more intelligent and insightful than Anne and warns her friend of the trouble she will face at Henry's side. Unfortunately, even Meg's guidance will not be enough to save Anne from her fate.
The Bottom Line: I enjoyed this reading and accounting of Anne Boleyn's life and very much appreciate that Byrd took care to present Anne as something more than she is often presented in historical fiction. I also appreciate that Byrd does not expound on every moment of lust and sex between Henry and Anne but focuses more on the issue at hand, the conversion of England from Catholicism to the Protestant faith which made Anne's marriage to Henry possible. Bound in all of this is Meg Wyatt, a character who, to the very end remained loyal to her friend. Byrd has made sure to entwine Meg's story with Anne's thus creating a far more interesting account of these events. For those who are as fascinated by Anne Boleyn as I am, I heartily recommend this read as it is a refreshingly new view of an old story.
To Die For is a well-written account of the rise, fall and death of Anne Boleyn. The characterizations and dialogue were well-done, having a realistic feel and never contrived. Some other reviewers have criticized the author's use of phrasing in her dialogue, but I found nothing to criticize. Dialogue that "feels" authentic to the time period while remaining easily readable for the modern reader is not easy, and Sandra Byrd achieved a nice balance in her book (the only criticism I have -- and this is minor, even petty perhaps -- is that the occasional use of "je ne sais quoi" should have been italicized, since it is not English). The story she created for Meg (she acknowledges in her notes at the back of the book that it was largely invented) was a nice counterpoint to Anne's story. Her depiction of Anne's death was graphic without being gruesome; I thought it was especially well-done. And for those who like their books free of sex and profanity this is sure to please, since there was nothing more than the faintest innuendos.
All that being said, this book is definitely Tudor-lite. It covers a lot of ground in only 330 pages, which means it largely skims the surface of Anne's story, hitting the main highlights without going into depth. Others like me who are not royalty-philes will probably be ok with that. But if you are a lover of all things Tudor, and have read much about them at all, then you may be bored with this.