Saturday, June 1, 2013
"Brief Gaudy Hour" is an earlier Tudor fiction piece, and what you first need to bear in mind while reading this is that some of the language is going to be dramatically different from what you're used to. For instance, 'lovemaking' is courtship, not sex. I know I was certainly confused at first upon reading Henry saying that surely 'many men have made love to you before' (not an exact quotation) to Anne, and then going on and calling her a virgin. Anyway, there are many novels of Anne Boleyn so what makes this piece particularly unique? (Aside from the language of course.) "Brief Gaudy Hour" is romantic. Many authors get caught up in how the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII ends that they are already setting Henry up as a monster, so that Anne is without a 'Prince Charming' to fall in love with. Whether Anne was ever truly in love with Henry or simply working with him in a partnership of politics and ambition, we can never be sure, but their vivid and gripping romance in this book convinces you it was a passionate alchemy of both. If you've been looking for a book of Anne Boleyn that is as much history as it is love story, then "Brief Gaudy Hour" is the book for you.
Another impressive facet of this book is its inclusive coverage of the trials of Anne and particularly her brother George. If you're tired of the stereotypical 'gay' and 'obnoxious' George Boleyn, you'll be glad to know that he is portrayed kindly and accurately. "Brief Gaudy Hour" has a lot going for it, but its outdated language and fact (Anne Boleyn has a sixth finger) make it less likable. Naturally this was no fault of the author given the year of its publication. To me, the reason I have to subtract a star is the incompleteness the reader will feel at the ending. Given her harrowing journey and great legacy, it just was not satisfying to me. However, the ending is but one part, and detracts little from this romantic and emotional Tudor masterpiece.