NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Monday, August 25, 2008


by Norah Lofts

The Concubine, a reissue from best-selling British author Norah Lofts, is an excellent telling of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, particularly for readers who are already familiar with the big picture of Anne, Catherine of Aragon, and Henry VIII's "Great Matter". In fact, it would be helpful to have a bit of background knowledge of this period of Tudor history before reading this book. If The Concubine is a reader's first foray into this story it may be easy to get a bit confused, because there are a lot of famous events and personages mentioned in passing and the reader is assumed to have some knowledge of what is being discussed. You don't have to be a Tudor scholar, but if you're at least somewhat familiar with that time period, your mind will easily fill in the background necessary to follow those descriptions and conversations.

The nice thing about those assumptions is that those of us who read a lot of Tudor books will not be bored to tears by extensive passages explaining things we already know. The Concubine moves quickly through the years from Henry's courtship of Anne, the eventual divorce from Catherine and through Anne's short time as queen, her bogus "trial" and her sad end. But we get to hear glimpses of thoughts and see actions of many famous and lesser- or unknown people as history plays out: The thoughts of Anne's closest ladies, Wolsey's musings as his power is eroded, Mark Smeaton as he realizes he's being used by Cromwell, the lords on Anne's jury who do not dare to defy the king despite the obviously manufactured evidence of her adultery and treason.

While not an innovative telling of an infamous affair, Norah Loft's deft handling of the insights of minor characters and her ability to vividly capture of the cloud of insecurity and apprehension that hung over the every level of court life keeps the reader interested in what happens next.


Darlene said...

Great review of this one Lezlie. I do already have this one on my list. It was interesting to read your thoughts on it. I really do have to take a month and just read some of my historical books. Every time I read one of your reviews I miss that time period and want to get back to it.

Jeane said...

I've enjoyed a few other Norah Lofts books, but not heard of this one. It sounds like I'd have to do a bit other reading first, though- I'm not familiar with that historical period, and get frustrated reading books that allude to events I'm ignorant of!

Lezlie said...

Dar ~ Once I finish all these ARCs, I may need a break. :-) They're just so good though!

Jeane ~ I know what you mean. I just started The Conqueror. I know nothing at all about William the Conqueror or his times, so this is going to be an education! I find myself reading slower to try to grasp names and places in case I need to know them later.


Teddy Rose said...

Awesome review Lezlie! This one is one my TBR. It isn't top priority, but I think I will enjoy it judging from your review.

Lezlie said...

Teddy ~ I think you will enjoy it, too. It was pleasantly different from what I expected.