Publish Date: August, 2011
Format: Paperback edition, 352 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review
What would you sacrifice for your best friend?
Would you die for her?
Meg Wyatt has been Anne Boleyn's closest friend ever since they grew up together on neighboring manors in Kent. So when twenty-five year old Anne's star begins to ascend, of course she takes Meg along for the ride.
Life in court of Henry VIII is thrilling...at first. Meg is made mistress of Anne's wardrobe, and she enjoys the spoils of this privileged orbit and uses her influence for good. She is young and beautiful and in favor; everyone at court assumes that being close to her is being close to Anne.
But favor is fickle and envy is often laced with venom. As Anne falls, so does Meg, and it becomes nearly impossible for her to discern ally from enemy. Suddenly life's unwelcome surprises rub against the court's sheen to reveal the tarnished brass of false affections and the bona fide gold of those that are true. Both Anne and Meg may lose everything. When your best friend is married to fearsome Henry VIII, you may soon find yourself not only friendless but headless as well.
A rich alchemy of fact and fiction, To Die For chronicles the glittering court life, the sweeping romance, and the heartbreaking fall from grace of a forsaken queen and Meg her closest companion, who was forgotten by the ages but who is destined to live in our hearts forever.
This review will be a tricky one since the novel To Die For is soon to be published. I will not give away nor go into too many historical details so no spoiler warnings are needed! Suffice it to say, author, Sandra Byrd, stays as close to accurate in historical detail allowing for a writer's imagination to fill in the gaps where history has left us curious!
Psalter ("Psalter of Anne Boleyn"), in French
France, Rouen, 1529–32
France, Rouen, 1529–32
The Wormsley Library, United Kingdom
National Portrait Gallery Portrait of Anne Boleyn
Although, this is the historical Margaret Wyatt painted by Hans Holbein, for purposes of the novel, Sandra Byrd writes a different Meg Wyatt.
Remember me, when you do pray, that hope doth lead from day to day
Nihilo quo tui meminerim mihi opus est, I need nothing to remember you by
Those words said between friends, set the scene for the friendship between two teenaged girls whose families live near each other on neighboring estates in Kent, England. What happens when one of them becomes Queen of England? How do you maintain a friendship, keep those ties that bind, when those loyalties get tested during the tumultous English Reformation?
Sandra Byrd has a descriptive and humorous writing style that captures the readers attention and maintains it throughout the lives of these two important women, their families, their loves, and their commitments to land, love, religion, and each other.
I am no historian but I am very well versed in Tudor history, especially Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII and various factions of Sixteenth Century England. What a wonderful surprise to have Sandra Byrd begin the first part of the novel by introducing you to a teenage Meg Wyatt and Anne Boleyn living in the Kent countryside, going about their busy days walking, talking, and cajoling. Getting on together as any two close girlfriends would.
There are recognizable historical families: The Boleyns, The Wyatts, The Howards amongst others.
Religion is quoted and discussed throughout. However, Sandra Byrd does not use religion as a soapbox for her characters, rather as a useful tool or support between friends and even enemies, a sort of comfort during trying times if you will. A rather good move I think. This keeps the reader interested even curious perhaps to learn more either about religion or history.
I hope you are curious enough to meet the young girl who grows up to be Queen of England and those around her who loved her. Some who shouldn't have and some who should!
To Die For is the first novel in a trilogy. I hope you will read and enjoy it as much as I have. It is a joyful story of hope, friendship, and love that does not disappoint!
For more information about visit the website of author, Sandra Byrd
Please feel free to leave any questions or comments,