Author: Katherine Longshore
Date of Publication: June 18 2013
Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court—and to convince the whole court they’re lovers—she accepts. Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice—but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart’s desire and the chance to make history.
Tarnish is really a fantastic historical read. I've always had an interest in Henry VIII's time period. It seemed like a dramatic time full of love and danger. I've read stories of Katherine of Aragon, Queen Elizabeth, Jane Grey and Queen Mary so I was excited to finally read a story about the infamous Anne Boleyn.
My knowledge of Anne Boleyn was that she was a witch with dark hair and great eyes. She wasn't traditionally beautiful yet bewitching. What was great about Tarnish was that it focused on Anne the girl, and I think it did a great job.
The biggest strength of Tarnish has to be the molding of Anne Boleyn. In historical fiction I've noticed that sometimes all the characters sound the same but Katherine Longshore made Anne different. Anne's character was developed thoroughly and I loved her despite her flaws. Anne is a combination of ambition and vulnerability. She doesn't believe in love and she wants so desperately to be somebody. There was a definite feminist vibe from Anne because she wasn't satisfied with being a tool for men. Anne wanted a lot from her life, and maybe this ambition would bring about her downfall, but it was a part of who she was. If she gave it up, she would be giving up herself.
The time period in Tarnish is Anne as a teenager after she returns from France to the English court. The story hints at the romance between Anne and Henry, but that's really not the focus of the novel. Tarnish focuses on what made Anne the women she was. Henry and Anne's relationship truly took off near the end of the book. It was interesting to see what Anne thought of Henry. Often, I've read about him being fat and childish, which may certainly be true, but in this story, Henry was a little more charming.
I don't know how historically accurate Tarnish was, but it was certainly a good novel. I never felt lost or confused. Often in historical novels there are so many characters that you forget some of them, but Katherine Longshore definitely differentiated her characters enough. The plot was engaging and I easily read Tarnish all in one sitting. I was never bored, and always curious to see what would happen to Anne.
The characters were surprisingly good and complex. I loved that about the story. Anne is rather self centered, but the narration still does a fantastic job portraying everyone. In particular, I enjoyed reading about Anne's sister Mary.
I would recommend Tarnish as one of the better historical novels. It was entertaining and helped me gain some insight into one of the most famous queens in history. 4 stars.