Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Elizabeth is 25 years old and has just been crowned Queen of England. She was third in line to succeed the English throne after her half brother Edward and half sister Mary who later became known as, “Bloody Mary.”

It’s becoming essential for Elizabeth to take a husband. Whether he is foreign or English it does not matter, but her counselors beseech her to choose at once. This constant annoyance by her counselors outrages Elizabeth and she refuses to hear another word of it. This worries them for they know she only has eyes for her horsemaster and lifelong companion, Robert Dudley.

Elizabeth is completely besotted by Robert. They’ve been lifelong friends since childhood. It is completely apparent that there is something going on between the two of them and her ladies maid, Kat Ashley, begs her to quit with this nonsense for she knows she can never marry him for he is already married and she is the Queen.

Elizabeth always believed herself to be her father’s daughter. Her mother, Anne Boleyn, was said to be a traitoress and was an accused witch, which cost her, her head. It was for those reasons that Elizabeth had no love for her mother. She felt her own life was tainted by her mother’s traitoress memory.

One day an old woman came begging for an audience with the Queen and out of curiosity Elizabeth agreed. The old woman by the name of Lady Matilda Sommervile claimed she attended her mother, Anne Boleyn, at the time of her death. She told Elizabeth that Anne gave her the diary to pass on to her daughter if she one day claims the throne. Full of mixed emotions, Elizabeth takes the tattered leather diary and thanks Lady Sommerville.

Anne’s diary contained all her secret thoughts, memories, and desires during most of her adulthood. As Elizabeth read through her mother’s diary she began to soften towards her mother. She realized how much her mother truly loved her and how she fought until her last breath to sustain Elizabeth’s rights as England’s rightful princess.

Review: This book was just okay. Going into it I really didn’t know what to expect. The book was primarily Anne Boleyn’s diary entries one right after another. I found myself wanting it to rotate back to Elizabeth’s perspective just so I could have a little break from the diary entries. I began to stop paying attention to the dates for each entry because they became distracting to the story and they would skipped around a lot.

On a better note, Robin Maxwell did an excellent job staying true to the facts. It was plain as day that she did her homework, which I must applaud. It was nice to read a Tudor novel written through Anne’s eyes instead of someone else’s so that you could get to know her better and see that she wasn’t the cold-hearted person she was made out to be.

I give this book a 3 ½ out of 5 stars because it wasn’t really a page turner for me and I kept looking at my TBR pile wishing I could start a new one. I recommend this book to someone who wants a light read about Anne Boleyn in order to get the facts. It’s not the novel that you want to curl up by the fire and lose yourself in. I’m definitely still a diehard Maxwell fan just not too wild about this one though.


  1. I always enjoy when a book is written through Anne's eyes. Thanks for the informative review!

    So glad I found your blog... it looks like a great one :) Here is my historical fiction blog:

  2. Love Robin Maxwell! I read The Queen's Bastard and Virgin: Prelude to the Throne and enjoyed them a little more than this one.

  3. @ Holly
    Robin Maxwell's The Queen's Bastard and O'Juliet are my favorites and I really want to read Signora Da Vinci!


  4. Sounds like an interesting idea for a book - I like that Elizabeth is in it too. I would probably enjoy this one as I love books written in diary format.

  5. I agree about it not really being a page turner, but it's still good. Sometimes Elizabeth's chapters were really short, but Anne's were really long. Oh Well.