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A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn    by Laurien Gardner order for
Lady Raised High
by Laurien Gardner
Order:  USA  Can
Jove, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Lisa Respers France

'Accounts of the execution of my queen said she'd been attended at her death by four women, three named and one left unnamed. The unnamed one was me.'

Thus begins yet another retelling of the tragic tale of the second wife of England's King Henry VIII. This one takes a different approach, however, in that the narrator is Frances Pierce, the na´ve daughter of a baronet, who escapes the drudgery of life with her family after she thrusts herself between the future Queen of England and a group of angry village women. That act of bravery earns her a place in the royal household, where Frances falls completely under the spell of the passionate, worldly Anne Boleyn whose doomed relationship with the king is played out on the pages of this satisfying historical drama.

The novel offers a nicely paced view of life with the royals, complete with masques, political machinations and courtly love, all through the eyes of a young woman who idolizes Anne and recognizes in her a fellow independent spirit. There is a well woven subplot of a romance between Frances and Jack Carlisle, one of the king's men, and while the character grows older, she never completely loses her innocence even as her benefactress spirals towards her inevitable fate. That lack of sophistication might be an annoyance to some but may seem charming to others. Those who know how the tale of Anne Boleyn ends will still desire to find out what happens to the loyal Frances.

A Lady Raised High is the second in a series about the wives of Henry VIII, the first being The Spanish Bride: A Novel of Catherine of Aragon, which also told the story of that historical figure through the words of a servant. The next in the series, Plain Jane: A Novel of Jane Seymour is scheduled for publication in the summer.

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