“They’re all dead or dead to me now. My husband, Thomas, and Mary, my sole surviving daughter, are as strangers to me—the first by choice, the second by my grievous fault, my unforgivable failings as a mother…Welcome to my private Hell.” This is how the story begins. It is Elizabeth beginning the tale of her family and their fateful plight’.
“I was Thomas Bullen’s wife…nothing but death could set me free.” Elizabeth is married to a man who wants nothing more than to please their Majesty, King Henry. If all goes well, Thomas can have great standing with the king.
At one time, Elizabeth was taken by King Henry when she was in the Queen’s court. She regretted it ever since then. “All it took, they said, was a pretty compliment to get Mary Boleyn into bed…Like mother, like daughter, I sighed…I hadn’t it in my heart to play the hypocrite and scold her for sins I had committed myself…When she became pregnant, King Henry lost all interest.”
Elizabeth speaks of her other child George, after he is married off to a woman he does not love. His father wanted to make sure that he pleased the King in every way. “George was also married…Despite her rich dowry, Jane would bring nothing but pain, sorrow, and suffering to all of us…she was such a spiteful, jealous creature…Once again, I had failed and disappointed a child I had brought into this world.”
“But it was Anne who presented the greatest surprise….of all our children remained unwed…Soon King Henry’s ardent eye would light upon her too.” Elizabeth knew that Anne was different from the rest. Anne was considered beguiling and self-centered. She would not give in to King Henry unless he married her. She devised a plan to do just that and it worked, only to seal her dreadful downfall in the end.
Ms. Purdy has written this novel with such poise that you have no choice but to feel compassion for the mother. She could voice her disapproval, but her husband’s decision was the final word. I recommend this book for all lovers of fictional historical romance novels.
(I received this book for free from Kensington Publishing for review purposes)