What Anne Boleyn Was Really Like Explored in New Novel by Lissa Bryan

Anne Boleyn was a woman who - quite literally - changed the world, but we know so little about her!

Most of what we "know" about Anne Boleyn comes from the words of her enemies. Over the years, layers of interpretation have been added, repeated, and compounded into a portrait of a woman which may bear very little resemblance to reality. She's been made into a ruthlessly ambitious homewrecker, a vicious harpy, an incestuous adulteress, a wicked stepmother, and even - in some fictional portrayals - a murderer.

I tried to peel away all those layers and go back to the original sources to find the real Anne Boleyn. And what I found varies quite a bit from her conventional portrayals.

Anne Boleyn likely had auburn hair, olive skin, and dark brown eyes. She probably looked a bit like a young Sophia Loren. She wasn't beautiful, but she had grace and a sparkling personality which drew people to her. It goes without saying she also had the ordinary number of fingers.

Rather than the power hungry seductress, I found a young woman who tried to gently dissuade the king from pursuing her for over a year, but accepted him once he proposed honorable marriage.

Instead of the king's mistress, I found a deeply religious woman who felt God had called her to the throne of England to reform His church.

Instead of the unpleasant, disagreeable creature of fiction, I found a charming and intelligent woman whom contemporaries described as sweet-natured. The worst her enemies could say about her manners were that they were "French." Anne had the courage to "answer back" to the king, which wasn't seen as a positive quality in a woman of the day, but today, we'd consider it admirable.

I hope I've done her justice.



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Under These Restless Skies is available from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and directly from the publisher

You can check out the book's blog on the historical background of the novel here. There are also two Pinterest boards with images.




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