She Survived Her Own Innocence, and the Treachery of Europe's Royal Courts Greed, lust for power, sex, lies, secret marriages, religious posturing, adultery, beheadings, international intrigue, jealousy, treachery, love, loyalty, and betrayal. The Last Boleyn tells the story of the rise and fall of the Boleyns, one of England's most powerful families, through the eyes of the eldest daughter, Mary. Although her sister, Anne, the queen; her brother, George, executed alongside Anne; and her father, Thomas, are most remembered by history, Mary was the Boleyn who set into motion the chain of events that brought about the family's meteoric rise to power, as well as the one who managed to escape their equally remarkable fall. Sent away to France at an extraordinarily young age, Mary is quickly plunged into the dangerous world of court politics, where everything is beautiful but deceptive, and everyone she meets is watching and quietly manipulating the events and people around them. As she grows into a woman, Mary must navigate both the dangerous waters ruled by two kings and the powerful will of her own family in order to find a place for herself and the love she so deeply desires.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Very enjoyable read
Posted November 02, 2010 by Jan , Kamloops, BCI often wondered about Mary Boleyn as she is often portrayed in fiction as a not very bright woman of ill repute. This book made me really think about and sympathize with her character and the fact that most women were simply pawns to be used to barter for power. If she had been less attractive, she probably would have had more control over her own choices. I really enjoyed reading this book and was sad to put it down.
2 . Interesting read
Posted December 18, 2009 by J , PhoenixI have always wondered about Mary Boleyn and this representation of her story certainly seems plausible. She's always mentioned as a just a footnote to her sister, the fact that she bore a male child (likely Henry's) always seemed to me to deserve more notice. Not a bad read - a bit less emotionally substantive than I would've liked, but it did leave me thinking about how things really might have been for Mary.
February 27, 2006
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Excerpt from The Last Boleyn by Karen Harper
As she searched back over the span of years to where it all began, her mind always seized upon that golden day at Hever when she first knew there could be uncertainty, yes, and even fear and pain. They were all so young then she but eight years, George a year older, so baby Anne was five years that summer. The July day spent itself in gold and green caresses for the tiny knot garden, and the yew-lined lanes, and grassy swards at Hever. But the reverie of that warmth and beauty always paled beneath the darker recesses of memory. Indeed, that was the first day she knew she was to be sent away and used, and that it would make her dear mother most unhappy.
The first thing she would recall were Anne's squeals of delight and George's high pitched tones of command mingled with the yelps of the reddish-coated spaniel pups which nearly drowned the drone of bees in the beds of roses and Sweet William. The pups were but a four month litter from their lady mother's favorite lap dog Glinda, but George was determined to control them and train them to be his obedient pets.
"Stop that! Stop that! You shall bend to my will, you little whelps!" he shouted with a grown-up edge of impatience to his boyish voice as he swung smartly at them with a willow switch. They yelped sharply when the stings struck, but continued to cavort and roll about on each other, all silken floppy ears and clumsy paws.
"Cease, George! They are too young to be whipped or trained," came Mary's clear voice from the vine-woven gallery where she sat slightly apart from the scene. She felt growing annoyance from the raucous laughter and pitiful cries of the pups. "They are not hunt hounds, only lap dogs for ladies, so leave them be. Gentleness and love will train them well enough. Leave off, or I shall tell mother or Semmonet!"
The boy turned to face her, a look of disdain clouding his fine features. He put his fists on his hips and stood straight, his eyes squinting in the sun toward her shady bower.
"You shall not order me about, Mary. I am the elder, and I am the son, and I already own three hounds and two falcons. And I shall see service in the king's court long before you. Father has promised!"
"Has he now " Mary countered, for George did annoy her so of late when he acted as though he were a lord's man or knight already and not some country lad whose father was always gone to court. "I warrant we all may stay here with mother at Hever, or maybe Blickling or Rochford, and never see the court at all," she continued.
Usually that sort of taunt unsettled George enough to quiet him, but today she hit a different mark. He advanced several swift strides toward her and, as he came into the shade of the arbor, she was startled to see the flush of his cheek and the frown on his brow. Anne trailed in his angry wake, her face curious, her raven hair spilling from beneath her white-ribboned cap.
"The fair-haired Mistress Mary with Grandmother Howard's beauty! Do not think to set yourself above Anne and me that we show the Butler blood for our dark locks and plainer faces. We are every bit as much a Howard too, and I shall be lord here at Hever someday and then you shall do my bidding, or or I shall wed you to a poor landed gentry knight!"
The vehemence surprised the girl, for though she sometimes goaded George for his imperious ways or silently smarted beneath his overbearing attitude, he seldom responded this way. It almost frightened her and, except for Anne's large, dark eyes peering earnestly at her, she would have responded haughtily.