Let me start this review by saying that this is the BEST novel I’ve ever read on Anne Boleyn. Like EVER.
I shant bore you with a summary since everyone and their dog knows the story of Anne Boleyn. I will say that Lofts portrayal of Anne seems to me to be the most believable and that this is actually the first novel that I’ve read where I felt empathy for Anne. Anne chose the motto, “The Most Happy”, but her story seems to be far from happy.
From this novel I learned a few things that had never really been focused on before. The heartbreak Anne experienced in her teens when Cardinal Wolsey dashed her hopes of marrying the first and only real love of her life, Henry Percy, was a turning point in Anne’s life. Gone was the romantic, lively girl who only wanted to be a simple Knight’s wife (she says she would rather be Henry’s Countess than Henry’s Queen) – in her place a hardened, spiteful woman emerges. Anne vowed then and there to revenge the wrong Wolsey had done her and she would live her life dedicated to that mission.
Another thing I didn’t realize is how quickly Henry’s love for Anne dies after she finally surrenders to him. After all those years of dragging him along, the night he had been dreaming of for seven long years fails to live up to the hype and he’s pissed! I’m not sure what he expected given that Anne was still a virgin, but Henry lost whatever had attracted him in the first place instantly that night.
There are also a few differences with historical facts in this novel that have me confused. It was written in 1963, so I’m thinking it may have to do with when it was written and what new facts came to light after:
• Lofts had Anne’s mother dead before Anne met Henry. Her mother was actually still alive 2 years after her execution.
• Lofts speaks of Henry having had an affair with Anne’s mother. I had never heard that before – I wonder if there is any truth to that.
• In Lofts version, Anne miscarries after getting the news that Henry was dying from a fall, but I’ve also read that she miscarries after finding Jane Seymour sitting on Henry’s knee. Also, Lofts suggests that the baby she was carrying was not Henry’s. Supposedly Anne had miscarried Henry’s baby months ago, but was afraid to tell him, so she needed to get pregnant again to keep her lie.
If you have any thoughts as to the above, I would love to hear what you think!
Overall, The Concubine is an engrossing and riveting novel of an enchanting woman and I most highly recommend for anyone wanting to get to know the real story of Anne Boleyn.
Passages to the Past