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Posts Tagged ‘Laura Andersen’

Discussion Questions: The Virgin’s Spy

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Virgin's Spy_AndersenPerfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, The Virgin’s Spy is award-winning author Laura Andersen’s second novel about the next generation of Tudor royals—a mesmerizing historical novel filled with rich period detail, vividly drawn characters, and all the glamour and seduction of the fabled Tudor court.

1.  Discuss Elizabeth’s marriage to King Philip. Can you envision any scenario in which their marriage might have survived? Or were their religious differences and political responsibilities insurmountable?

2.  What do you think motivated Elizabeth’s revelation about her suspicions regarding Lucette’s true parentage? Was her choice political or personal? How might she have handled the situation differently? Discuss the long–term impact of her decision on Lucette and the Courtenay family.

3.  Which character surprised you the most? Why?

4.  In what ways are Anne Isabella and Elizabeth similar? In what ways are they different? Compare and contrast the two, both as women and as leaders.

5.  Discuss the relationship between Minuette and Elizabeth. In what ways has it evolved, and in what ways has it remained the same?

6.  Elizabeth plays many roles—-that of wife, friend, mother, and queen most notably. Discuss these different facets of her personality. Do you see a difference in her behavior in each of these contexts, or does the monarch necessarily overshadow the other roles?

7.  At one point, Lucette asks, “Should not love between spouses be absolute? How could one ever love a second person as much as the first?” Do you agree with this sentiment? Is it possible to feel romantic love for more than one person in a lifetime?

8.  Renaud tells Lucette: “You are so afraid of not being wanted, you will not put it to the test, and thus create the very distance you fear.” Do you agree with his assessment of Lucette? Can you think of anyone else in the book to whom this sentiment applies?

9.  Discuss Julien’s motives for becoming an English spy, taking into account the events of 1572. Do you find his reasons compelling?

10.  Before leaving England, Philip says to Elizabeth, “I indulged myself in a dream these twenty years because I loved you and because I hoped persuasion would be of greater influence than force.” What do you think his dream was? How could Elizabeth have handled the situation with Spain differently? At this point, do you think there was anything she could have done to dissuade Philip from carrying out his plan?

11.  Compare and contrast Nicolas and Julien. In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? Did you sympathize with Nicolas at all by the end?

12.  If you read The Boleyn King Trilogy, compare and contrast the relationships between Kit, Anabel, Pippa, and Lucette to those between the previous generation: Elizabeth, William, Dominic, and Minuette.

13.  What did you think of the revelation at the end of the book? Any predictions for the sequel?

From the Diary of Minuette Courtenay from The Virgin’s Spy

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Virgin's Spy_AndersenFrom the Diary of Minuette Courtenay

30 August 1561

Wynfield Mote

Elizabeth’s summer progress has brought her to Warwick Castle for a fortnight, a visit that might very well bankrupt Ambrose Dudley. It is, of course, a mark of great favour to host the queen—-but the wretched man apparently had to build an entirely new timber structure in which to house her, seeing as the castle itself is in such poor repair. Perhaps that is why our queen never chooses to stay with us at Wynfield Mote—-she knows that we would not go to such lengths to impress her.

But as Warwick is only ten miles distant, Elizabeth has come to us for this one night only.

There have been rumours, of course, since almost the moment she made her wedding vows last December. But I said I would believe none of them until Elizabeth herself told me. And so she did, as we sat alone together after dinner.

“I am with child.” She delivered the news as abruptly and matter–of–factly as though she were commenting on possession of a new book or piece of art. But I know her too well to be deceived.

“I am glad of it,” I replied, with real pleasure. “Have you been ill? Tired? Uncomfortable?”

“I cannot afford to be ill, breeding or not.”

“Philip must be pleased.” I called him by name deliberately, to separate the husband and father from the King of Spain.

“Naturally he is pleased. It means he has done his duty. Now he can return to Spain for the winter.”

“I do not think you are only a duty to him, Elizabeth. And nor will his child be.”

But my friend has refused to be sentimental since the death of Robert Dudley. “We cannot all be as fortunate as you, Minuette, with your adoring husband and perfect brood of children. For it is no secret in this household that you are also set to deliver another before spring.”

There is no such thing as perfect, I wanted to snap. What does Elizabeth know of the price Dominic and I continue to pay for our past sins? Does she know how my husband retreated to Tiverton after Stephen’s birth last year and did not communicate for so many months I began to think he had left me? He loves me, I know, and he loves Lucette equally with Stephen—-but love does not preclude pain.

As Elizabeth knows well.

27 February 1562

Tiverton Castle

Elizabeth is safely delivered of a daughter.

She is named Anne Isabella, for her Boleyn grandmother and her Spanish great–grandmother. If there is disappointment that the newborn is not a son, it is masked for now with relief that the queen is clearly capable of bearing healthy children. King Philip will return in the spring to meet his daughter, yes, but also to begin the business of the next child.

But I can care about Elizabeth only in brief snatches between my own joy and exhaustion. Three days ago I was also delivered, almost a month before my expected time, and gifted by God with two beautiful children. A girl and a boy. Philippa, we have called our daughter, after Dominic’s mother, who died last year in blessed peace. We considered naming her twin Jonathan, after my father, but Dominic kept looking between the two babies with a crease in his forehead as he pondered.

“Christopher,” he finally announced.

I blinked, somewhat surprised, for there is no Christopher in either of our near families. But then Dominic gave one of his rare, open smiles and said, “I like the way they sound together. Pippa and Kit. What do you think?”

I think I love you so much my heart is near to breaking, I thought.

3 May 1562

Tiverton Castle

The children and I leave for Wynfield Mote next week. Dominic will not be with us. He has been summoned to court. Elizabeth has tried summons before this, but Dominic has always ignored them. What can she threaten us with? Taking away Tiverton and the duchy of Exeter? It would be no punishment, for Dominic serves his people from duty rather than ambition.

This time, Elizabeth took another tack. Please, she wrote to both of us, I have great need of a friend. Not for myself. For my daughter.

*

The closer he came to London, the more tense Dominic Cour-tenay grew. He had not been anywhere near the city since his imprisonment in the Tower five years before. At least Elizabeth had sense enough not to summon him to Whitehall. Indeed, he did not actually have to enter the city at all, for the queen awaited him at Nonsuch Palace, fifteen miles southwest. The distinctive octagonal towers rising before him made Dominic catch his breath before he ruthlessly banished memories of previous visits. Visits when Elizabeth was merely Princess of Wales and William . . .

Tension made him curt, but he had never been a man of many words and Elizabeth’s guards and stewards passed him along swiftly enough to the queen’s privy chamber. To his surprise, she greeted him alone.

“No counselors today?” he asked her. “No clerks or ambassadors begging your attention for the great matters of state?”

“There is no matter of greater importance to me than what I am about to ask you.”

“Why bring me all the way here simply to tell you no? I am finished with courts and royals, Your Majesty. You know that.”

“But you are not finished with loyalty. Nor will you be so long as you draw breath.”

“What do you want, Elizabeth?” If she was going to pluck at all the most painful chords of his past, he would treat her not as queen, but as the girl he’d known since childhood.

She matched his tone. “I need you, Dominic, to stand as Protector to my daughter.”

All the breath left his body. He’d known a Lord Protector once, and no way in hell was he going to follow in the footsteps of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford.

Elizabeth didn’t wait for his refusal. “I am not asking you to run the government, Dominic. You are entirely too honest for such a task . . . although I suspect Minuette would be quite good at it.”

“That is not—-”

Elizabeth overrode him. “Let me be frank. My life is all that stands between security and chaos in England. My life—-and now that of my infant daughter. An infant whose father would gladly seize whatever power he could in this nation.”

Dominic had learned a few things from his wife, including sarcasm. “That is only occurring to you now?”

Her eyes darkened, and he realized that there was real fear beneath her royal composure. “For a man so eager to keep apart from politics, that is a rather piercing opinion to voice.”

He raised a hand in conciliation. “I apologize. What is it you want from me?”

When she spoke again, it was entirely as Queen of England. “If I should die during my daughter’s childhood, England will have need of a strong government during her minority. That responsibility would lie in the hands of Lord Burghley and Sir Francis Walsingham, as well as a carefully composed council of men I trust. I am not asking you to protect England in such a case—-I am asking you to protect Anabel.”

It was that last word that moved him, the realization that Elizabeth had given her daughter a pet name. Even though he suspected her of using sentiment against him, it worked. There was only one thing more she could try, so Dominic asked before the queen could. “May I see her?”

He followed Elizabeth to a separate suite of painted and gilded chambers attended by soft–footed ladies who looked more suited to royal feasts than caring for a baby.

Anne Isabella, the Princess of Wales, lay in a cradle beneath a cloth–of–gold canopy embroidered with her mother’s personal falcon badge. The baby looked a little bigger to him than did his own twins, but the plump cheeks and finely pursed mouth were familiar childish traits. The infant had her mother’s distinctive red–gold hair and stared up at him with a curious intelligence he told himself he was imagining.

“She’s a pawn, Dominic,” Elizabeth said softly, next to him. “A Spanish pawn. If I die young, Philip’s men will spare no 
effort to lay hold of her. She must not fall to Spain. Promise me, Dominic. Promise me that if anything happens to me, you will take Anabel into your care. I trust few men with my government—-but only one man do I trust with her life.”

The last royal who trusted me with his life is dead, Dominic thought bleakly. In the end, it was the memory of Will, as much as Elizabeth’s plea, that decided him.

“I will protect her, Your Majesty. As though she were my own.”

The Virgin’s Daughter by Laura Andersen Discussion Questions

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Virgin's Daughter_AndersenPerfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, The Virgin’s Daughter is the first book in a captivating new saga about the next generation of Tudor royals, which poses the thrilling question: What if Elizabeth I, the celebrated Virgin Queen, gave birth to a legitimate heir?

1. Discuss Elizabeth’s marriage to King Philip. Can you envision any scenario in which their marriage might have survived? Or were their religious differences and political responsibilities insurmountable?

2.  What do you think motivated Elizabeth’s revelation about her suspicions regarding Lucette’s true parentage? Was her choice political or personal? How might she have handled the situation differently? Discuss the long–term impact of her decision on Lucette and the Courtenay family.

3.  Which character surprised you the most? Why?

4.  In what ways are Anne Isabella and Elizabeth similar? In what ways are they different? Compare and contrast the two, both as women and as leaders.

5.  Discuss the relationship between Minuette and Elizabeth. In what ways has it evolved, and in what ways has it remained the same?

6.  Elizabeth plays many roles—-that of wife, friend, mother, and queen most notably. Discuss these different facets of her personality. Do you see a difference in her behavior in each of these contexts, or does the monarch necessarily overshadow the other roles?

7.  At one point, Lucette asks, “Should not love between spouses be absolute? How could one ever love a second person as much as the first?” Do you agree with this sentiment? Is it possible to feel romantic love for more than one person in a lifetime?

8.  Renaud tells Lucette: “You are so afraid of not being wanted, you will not put it to the test, and thus create the very distance you fear.” Do you agree with his assessment of Lucette? Can you think of anyone else in the book to whom this sentiment applies?

9.  Discuss Julien’s motives for becoming an English spy, taking into account the events of 1572. Do you find his reasons compelling?

10.  Before leaving England, Philip says to Elizabeth, “I indulged myself in a dream these twenty years because I loved you and because I hoped persuasion would be of greater influence than force.” What do you think his dream was? How could Elizabeth have handled the situation with Spain differently? At this point, do you think there was anything she could have done to dissuade Philip from carrying out his plan?

11.  Compare and contrast Nicolas and Julien. In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? Did you sympathize with Nicolas at all by the end?

12.  If you read The Boleyn King Trilogy, compare and contrast the relationships between Kit, Anabel, Pippa, and Lucette to those between the previous generation: Elizabeth, William, Dominic, and Minuette.

13.  What did you think of the revelation at the end of the book? Any predictions for the sequel?

Reader’s Guide: THE BOLEYN RECKONING by Laura Andersen

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Andersen_Boleyn ReckoningGather round, my lords and ladies of Random House Reader’s Circle. We have discussion questions for your royal book club gatherings for months to come! Laura Andersen’s Boleyn trilogy comes to a close with The Boleyn Reckoning. Join us for the final installment as William Tudor- known as William IX- fights battles both within his heart and for England itself.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. The Duke of Norfolk declares:“William is his father all over again—what he wants, he gets” (page 257). Do you agree with Lord Norfolk’s assessment? Why or why not?

2. Elizabeth tells William that she can always be trusted to put England’s good before her own personal interests (page 367). Are her actions in England’s best interest? Do you agree with her assessment of her motives, or is she serving her own personal interests? Had William not murdered Robert Dudley and confined Elizabeth to the Tower, do you think she would still consider William’s death and her own ascension to be in England’s best interest? What are Elizabeth’s defining characteristics that make her a more desirable monarch than William?

3. Discuss the theme of loyalty in this book. William and Eliza- beth often are faced with choices related to balancing loyalty to their family versus loyalty to their country’s interests. Minuette and Dominic are forced to choose between loyalty to each other and their own personal happiness and loyalty to their life-long friends and personal senses of honor and duty. What choices would you have made in their positions? Which character do you consider to be the most loyal?

4. On page 278, Minuette asks herself: “Am I whore, or am I savior?” What do you think of her bargain with William? Are her actions disloyal to Dominic? What would you have done in her position? Does Minuette’s history with William and the fact that her heart,“so long twined with William in friendship,would demand its share of [that] hour” (page 278) color your opinion of her actions? Why do you think Minuette later refuses to make a similar bargain with William in exchange for Dominic’s life?

5. After William had all-but announced his engagement to Minuette, was there any reaction he could have had to the news of her secret wedding and miscarriage (short of labeling her a traitor) that would have enabled him to save face at court? How could he have reacted differently without becoming a laughing stock in England and abroad? Considering how much he fought for the right to marry her (with his council and foreign ambassadors pushing for a strategic marriage) was his reaction reason- able in the context of the time? How would you react if similarly betrayed by a close friend?

6. On page 224, Minuette asks herself “At what point could pain have been avoided?” How would you answer this question? Was there a moment at which Minuette could have acted differ- ently in order to spare William’s pride and feelings? If so, what should she have done?

7. At one point, the Duke of Norfolk tells Dominic “You were a traitor the moment you took [Minuette] from [William]” (page 261). Do you agree? Was Dominic a traitor? If so, at what point did his actions become treasonous? If not, what label would you give his choice to deceive the King?

8. What do you make of Minuette’s refusal to tell William the last lie that could have granted herself and Dominic safety? Considering they had been lying for a year, why do you think she chose the moment before they were scheduled to flee to come clean?

9. William had to make several difficult decisions regarding the lives of family members, significantly his half-sister Mary and his uncle George Boleyn; how do you think those decisions impacted him? Did they pave the way for his later decisions to convict Dominic and Minuette of treason, and to imprison his sister? What would you do if a family member or close friend posed a serious threat to your position, success, and happiness, personally or professionally? What if the threat were to your country?

10. How have the various relationships between the four central characters evolved over the course of the series? Compare the William in The Boleyn King to the one who rides to battle the Duke of Norfolk in The Boleyn Reckoning. How has his leadership style changed over the course of his reign? To what do you attribute these changes?

11. Is it possible for royalty to have true friendships, or is William right in thinking otherwise? Is it necessary for those in power to have an attitude toward mistrust? If so, can friendships exist anyway, or is perfect trust required for true friendship?

12. What is your reaction toWilliam’s decision to execute Mary Tudor? Was this the right choice for his government? What about for him on a personal level?

13. What impact (if any) did the death of Jane and the loss of his son have on William?

Giveaway Opportunity: THE BOLEYN DECEIT by Laura Andersen

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Andersen_The Boleyn Deceit “A sumptuous, vividly imagined novel of a Boleyn king’s fateful rise to power amid the treacherous glamour of the Tudor court.”—C. W. Gortner, author of The Queen’s Vow

This new novel from Laura Andersen’s series is perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, and Showtime’s The Tudors. Set in the imagined Tudor court of King Henry IX, son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, must navigate a terrain rife with palace intrigue, impending war, and unbridled passions.

The regency period is over and William Tudor, now King Henry IX, sits alone on the throne. But England must still contend with those who doubt his legitimacy, both in faraway lands and within his own family. To diffuse tensions and appease the Catholics, William is betrothed to a young princess from France, but still he has eyes for only his childhood friend Minuette, and court tongues are wagging.

Even more scandalous—and dangerous, if discovered—is that Minuette’s heart and soul belong to Dominic, William’s best friend and trusted advisor. Minuette must walk a delicate balance between her two suitors, unable to confide in anyone, not even her friend Elizabeth, William’s sister, who must contend with her own cleaved heart. In this irresistible tale, the secrets that everyone keeps are enough to change the course of an empire.

Enter below for your chance to win! Join the conversation with Laura on Twitter.

Author Spotlight: Thanksgiving Recipe from Laura Andersen, author of THE BOLEYN DECEIT

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Andersen_The Boleyn DeceitFeeling stressed about making the perfect festive dessert for your holiday guests? Do you need something simple and delicious for those last minute people who decided to come to your home on Thanksgiving? Fear not! Laura Andersen, author of the recent Boleyn Deceit, shares both a special Thanksgiving memory and her favorite recipe with us today: Pumpkin Crunch Pie Cake.

It is an ideal dessert for any fall day, and, if you are anything like us, then you love pumpkin-flavored treats.

Thanksgiving Recipe and Memories

My favorite Thanksgiving food is Whatever Someone Else Cooks.

Do you respect me less now?

In fact, one of my favorite Thanksgiving dinners was served in a London restaurant at the end of a ten-day trip with my husband. Sure, I missed my children, but what was not to love about London and fish pie and steamed syrup sponge with warm custard? Not to mention no cooking or dishes. It’s the closest I’m ever likely to come to knowing what a Tudor feast might have been like for the nobility: all the work borne by others, all the pleasure mine alone. If it were up to me, I would spend every Thanksgiving Day in a London restaurant or visiting Hampton Court and its beautiful Tudor kitchens—or preferably both! Boleyn Deceit - Tower of London

All that said, there is one recipe I look forward to making multiple times every autumn. This year, I actually made it on September 1st, reasoning that autumn was near enough upon us as made no difference. Being me, it’s a simple recipe. If you can’t go to England this Thanksgiving, this is a tasty second-best.

Pumpkin Crunch Pie Cake

1 (29 oz) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 yellow cake mix
1 cube butter

Mix all ingredients except cake mix and butter. Pour into greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour (or until toothpick comes out clean.) Best served warm with whipped cream.

Boleyn Deceit - Tudor Kitchens Hampton Ct

Let us know if you try to make this recipe and share with us on Facebook!
Be sure to check back with us between now and Thanksgiving for more recipes. Next up: Deb Caletti!

Reader’s Guide: THE BOLEYN DECEIT by Laura Andersen

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Andersen_The Boleyn Deceit

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. In the opening chapter of the novel, Minuette writes: “William has commanded [John Dee] to give a private reading of our stars. Only the four of us— for it would not do to let our secrets, past or future, slip into wider circulation.” Yet, she keeps a journal that details many of their secrets. Do you think it is dangerous for her to do so? Would you, in her place?

2. When they meet with John Dee, Minuette reflects, “We all have motives that are less than pure.” Do you agree? Do you think that the nature of the court made it impossible to be anything but self-serving at heart?

3. At one point Dominic says to Minuette, “Give me the word, and I’ll go straight to William myself and tell him the truth.” To which Minuette responds, “We can’t just throw this in his face. He’s not ready to hear it.” Why do you think Minuette is so set against being honest with William? Is it solely because she wishes to spare his feelings? Was there ever a moment when Minuette or Dominic could have (or should have) told William about their relationship?

4. Ironically, though she is against confessing to William, it is Minuette who proposes the di praesenti marriage, arguing that “the court live[s] by its own rules.” Do you think she is being rational, or hopelessly naïve? What’s your opinion on how they handled the situation, and how do you predict the news of their secret marriage will be met by William? By Elizabeth?

5. It is interesting that Dominic and Minuette never turn to Elizabeth for help or advice on their situation, especially given her ability to be incredibly rational and less volatile than her brother. Why do you think this is?

6. Elizabeth excuses herself for “keeping her own counsel,” because she realizes that William too has “confidences kept,” even from her. Each of the “holy quartet” has their reasons for keeping secrets, some trivial, some life altering— do you think these secrets will ultimately rip them apart? Or are secrets sometimes necessary in order to keep people together?

7. Robert Dudley is an interesting character because, despite how involved he is in court life, he also does his best to keep his head down and his nose clean, unlike his father. Do you think this is wise? What do you make of his relationship with Elizabeth? With William?

8. The title of the book is The Boleyn Deceit. To whom or what do you think the title applies? Who are the deceivers? Who are the deceived?

9. Do you think that a true, balanced friendship can ever really exist between two people who are on vastly different playing fields of power, as William and Dominic are? Why or why not?

10. If given a choice, would you rather be the one in power (William), or serving the one in power? Why?

11. Do you see any parallels between William and Elizabeth’s relationship and that of Anne and George Boleyn?

12. How do the feelings between Dominic, Minuette, William, and Elizabeth shift over the course of the book? Compare their standing at the end of The Boleyn Deceit to their relationship as it was in The Boleyn King. Of the quartet, who do you sympathize with most?

13. During a conversation about political strategy, Will’s uncle opposes him, to which William replies, “Do tell, Lord Rochford: if being king isn’t about me, then whom is it about?” Do you think this is the right attitude to have? Does your opinion of William change over the course of the book?

14. There have been many books written about the Tudors, not to mention the popularity of fi lms and television shows about this time. What do you think is so fascinating about this particular era, and this particular family (for you personally, and in more general cultural terms)?

Connect with Laura Andersen on Facebook

Giveaway Opportunity: THE BOLEYN DECEIT by Laura Andersen

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Andersen_The Boleyn DeceitBook club members like you were huge supporters and big fans of Laura Andersen’s The Boleyn King. Now, Andersen returns to the page with the second book in her captivating and sumptuous series with The Boleyn Deceit. Enter below for your chance to be a lucky winner to win an advance copy of this new novel!

What do you think of the beautiful cover? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter!

“A sumptuous, vividly imagined novel of a Boleyn king’s fateful rise to power amid the treacherous glamour of the Tudor court.”—C. W. Gortner, author of The Queen’s Vow

The regency period is over and William Tudor, now King Henry IX, sits alone on the throne. But England must still contend with those who doubt his legitimacy, both in faraway lands and within his own family. To diffuse tensions and appease the Catholics, William is betrothed to a young princess from France, but still he has eyes for only his childhood friend Minuette, and court tongues are wagging.

Even more scandalous—and dangerous, if discovered—is that Minuette’s heart and soul belong to Dominic, William’s best friend and trusted advisor. Minuette must walk a delicate balance between her two suitors, unable to confide in anyone, not even her friend Elizabeth, William’s sister, who must contend with her own cleaved heart. In this irresistible tale, the secrets that everyone keeps are enough to change the course of an empire.

Enter below for your chance to win!

Enter for your chance to win THE BOLEYN KING by Laura Andersen

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Andersen_The Boleyn King “A sumptuous, vividly imagined novel of a Boleyn king’s fateful rise to power amid the treacherous glamour of the Tudor court.”—C. W. Gortner, author of The Queen’s Vow

Just seventeen years old, Henry IX, known as William, is a king bound by the restraints of the regency yet anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the Catholics sowing the seeds of rebellion at home, William trusts only three people: his older sister Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by William’s mother, Anne Boleyn.

Against a tide of secrets, betrayal, and murder, William finds himself fighting for the very soul of his kingdom. Then, when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession looms over a new generation of Tudors. One among them will pay the price for a king’s desire, as a shocking twist of fate changes England’s fortunes forever.

Join the conversation! Follow Laura on Twitter or share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Enter below for your chance to win!

A Reader’s Guide: THE BOLEYN KING by Laura Andersen

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Andersen_The Boleyn KingTHE BOLEYN KING by Laura Andersen: A Reader’s Guide

An Interview Between Anne and Minuette
30 April 1554
Hever Castle

We are here with Queen Anne in a brief pause before this summer’s festivities. Even briefer than I expected it to be, since William has decided to send me to Mary’s household. The queen, in a burst of sentimentality I would never have predicted, has asked me to sit with her this afternoon and speak of the past. I think she sometimes wishes to mistake me for my mother—at least, I have the sense that she has not had a friend to confi de in for many years. And I am curious enough to take advantage of my likeness to my mother.

ANNE: Well, Genevieve, what shall we speak of? My opinion of the English wool trade, perhaps? The fallacies in Bishop Bonner’s arguments against Protestant reforms? Last year’s failure by the French to invade Tuscany?

MINUETTE: You are teasing me, Your Majesty.

A: Don’t let my children know. They would not respect me so well if they thought I could tease. Very well, it is the personal you are interested in. As is every seventeen-year-old girl.

M: What personal things interested you at seventeen?

A: At seventeen I had already been years at European courts, in the Netherlands and France. You and I are not entirely dissimilar, for the companion of my girlhood was Princess Claude, later Queen of France. But my world was somewhat more expansive than yours. You’ve never left England, the farthest you’ve ever gone is . . . York?

M: As you know very well. Did you miss your family all those childhood years away?

A: Well, I was often with my sister, Mary. Also, during those years on the continent, my father was a frequent visitor on royal business. I suppose it was my mother I knew the least in those years.

M: And now? There’s only—

A: Only George left. But honestly, we two were always the ones who understood each other. He is the only one who never saw me as a means to an end. For George, I have been an end in myself. That is as family should be and so rarely is. It is a pity you have no siblings.

M: It is difficult to miss what one has never had. I have my friends, and I cannot see how even siblings would be dearer to me.

A: Perhaps you are the fortunate one in that. You can choose your loyalties and not have any thrust upon you by blood. So tell me, Genevieve, what loyalties will you choose beyond your friendships with my children and Dominic Courtenay? I am given to understand that there is a young man who grows daily more enamoured. But that is only to be expected; you are a young woman poised to break men’s hearts. The question is, are you as taken with him?

M: I hardly know, Your Majesty. It is . . . How does one fall in love? In an instant, or through time and experience?

A: You are young, aren’t you? To fall in love is simple. To hold that love . . . Well, that’s the trick. Men fall in love in a rush of desire. Women are more practical. We have to be, since we are so often at the mercy of men’s desires.

M: Are you saying you’ve never been in love?

A: I’m saying that’s a question you know better than to ask. Did I not
teach you discretion?

M: You also taught me boldness. There are still stories of how your father and Wolsey forced you and Henry Percy to separate against your wishes.

A: Youth is made for hopeless romance.

M: So you’re saying it was a romance.

A: I’m saying it was hopeless. It is an important distinction for a woman
of the court to make. Do not trust men with your heart— or anything
else.

M: How does one know whom to trust?

A: Have you learned nothing in your years at court? Trust is for saints and madmen; all else must look to themselves. A lesson I would have you learn from me, and not through hard experience.

M: Why is it that everyone thinks I am so likely to be taken advantage of? Just because I am not Elizabeth does not mean I am stupid.

A: Not stupid, no. But you have a quality very like your mother: the disposition to see the good in everyone.

M: Is that what you liked about her? I assume you liked something about my mother, since you appear to have had so few women friends in your life.

A: Friendship is a luxury for a carefree life, the kind I only had in my
youth. Once caught in the snares of royal politics, I needed friends
who were useful and women’s usefulness will always be limited. And
you needn’t pity me for that. Tell me, Genevieve, excepting Elizabeth,
do you have any women friends?

M: I thought I did. . . . Perhaps you are right. Do you think—if you had known the cost of what was to come—you would have made the same choices when the king fell in love with you?

A: That is presupposing I had a choice.

M: One always has a choice.

A: Ah, the righteousness of the young and untouched. You’re right, I could have chosen my sister’s path: king’s mistress for a time, to be discarded when no longer wanted and married off to a man who would always know he was taking the king’s leavings. That was not a choice I could live with.

M: So you have no regrets? You would not change anything if you could?

A: I won, didn’t I? No one thought I would. Men lined up to watch me fall: Wolsey, Cromwell, my uncle Norfolk, the entire hierarchy of the Roman church. But here I am—the widow of one king and mother of another king. The English Church is fi rmly planted, no more to be uprooted by Popish interference. And for all her righteousness and piety, it is not Catherine’s blood but mine that will run through the English throne for generations to come.

M: Catherine is gone, but Mary survives and many call her Henry’s only true heir. If it were in your power, what would you do with Mary?

A: It is in my power, and to be ignored is a far more powerful statement than even to be punished. Mary will fade away in obscurity until history has quite forgotten her.

M: Politics, princes, popes . . . you are right, Your Majesty, I am less interested in those things than in the personal. In all that surrounded your marriage, I am mostly interested in just one thing: Did you love him?

A: What makes you think I will answer that?

M: Because no one ever asks you, and I think you like the personal, as well.

A: I loved the man who called me darling, who wrote out the great fervour of his passion, who defi ed his councilors to have me, who dared to claim our love as the only requisite for a proper marriage. . . . That man I have always loved. As your mother knew very well, for she asked me the same question more than once during the years Henry and I
waited.

M: So I get my impertinence from my mother?

A: It is not impertinence when the motive is genuine concern. Like your mother, your heart is in everything you do. Perhaps you will be the happier for it—or perhaps it will leave you desolate.

M: Perhaps both, in which case I think I would count the happiness
worth the desolation. As, I suspect, you have done.

A: And with that, I believe we are fi nished. Thank you for the talk,
Genevieve. It has been most . . . invigorating.

Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. If “History is written by the victors,” what do you think is the biggest impact of changing a story?
2. William says, “I will be the best because I’ve earned it. I don’t need you to hand me my victories.” (page 12) Do you think this is true? Is William a self-made man? Does your opinion change of him by the end of the book?
3. Why do you think their reputation within the court is so important to people like William and Elizabeth? Why are even conjecture and rumor dangerous? Do you think Minutte and Dominic feel the same way?
4. William and Elizabeth are of royal parentage. Dominic is the son of a supposed traitor. Minuette is the daughter of a trusted servant and confidante. How much do you think parentage matters to these characters? Where does it affect them most in life? How
have they each overcome the generation before them?
5. The rift between Protestants and Catholics is a huge divide in
The Boleyn King. Compare and contrast it to today’s societal divisions in America, such as Republicans and Democrats, or even between the suburbs and the city.
6. In tweaking history for this story, the author opens up a world of possibilities. What historical event do you think would have the greatest impact if changed? What would that impact be?
7. In the context of this story, what qualities do you think make for an ideal servant? An ideal ruler?
8. In an age where social standing is of the utmost importance, what do you think is the most important reason for a person to be married? Why? Does your opinion change for royalty versus commoners?
9. Do you think members of royalty can have friends? What about someone like a present-day world leader? Could you be friends with your boss, or your employees, the way William and Dominic are friends?
10. Compare and contrast how each of the four main characters deal with the ideal of castle intrigue.
11. What would be the most unnerving secret message that you could receive? In what manner?
12. Compare and contrast what is deemed public in this novel versus what is deemed private. How does that compare to today’s Internet culture?
13. What is said in letters in this novel versus what is said out loud? Which do you think has more impact? Which method of communication is more important to you?

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