Just when you think all Tudor characters have been unveiled, Purdy comes up with one lady most people know very little about. Elizabeth Boleyn is Anne Boleyn’s ‘mommy dearest’, to put it mildly. Promiscuous, adulterous, cold and unloving towards her children and her ‘traitor’ husband, this vain, goal-oriented vixen plays a prominent role in the Tudor court.
As lady-in-waiting to Queen Katharine (the only person Elizabeth ever shows an ounce of caring or devotion to), this man-eating vulture lives a life of which she would regret the tragic ending. The beginning of the book sets the pace for an uncovering of Elizabeth’s laments and repentance, which fortunately allows room for redemption and human understanding from the reader’s point of view. And from there on, this story, written in the first person, is truly amazing!
To capture interest, The Boleyn Bride shares more than Elizabeth’s fleshy and greedy desires. An intimate look at how Anne, George and Mary were raised brings a refreshing new understanding of who they were as children and then the adults they turned out to be. But, all in all, this is Elizabeth’s story, and the fate of her children only bring us closer to the ultimate pain she experiences and her realization of it all along with her regrets. This extremely well-written novel succeeds in rendering Elizabeth both unforgettable and undeniably real.
Review by Lucy Bertoldi for The Historical Novel Society