Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore
Release Date – June 18, 2013
Publisher Website -  Penguin
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages -  448 pages
**obtained for review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
History is unyielding. It's concrete. There is no escaping it. Anne Boleyn's fate is known before you even open the first page of Tarnish. What I loved most about this novel is that it took the unique premise of focusing not on her death, but instead her life.

Katherine Longshore brings Anne Boleyn effortlessly to life. Her voice is so clear, and it resonates so deeply, if almost read as an autobiography. This Anne is human, flawed, and most of importantly, REAL. This Anne is driven, and just wants her voice to be heard. She has opinions and think that they matter. Her voice is one of my favourites of the year, because you can see how richly layered she is. Katherine Longshore took great care in bringing an iconic queen to life within her pages, and it shows.

Katherine's novels always, even though they are historical, are relevant and current. Anne's desire to share her opinions, have her voice count are still struggles that women face today. It ties in nicely with the entire notion of equality and shows that while we've come along way, it's still an important issue worth talking about.

Tarnish doesn't shy away from Anne's ambition. It is evident, and prominently so. She wants to be seen and heard. Throughout history she's been portrayed as having high goals and opinions. It's often shown as playing a part in her downfall. In Tarnish, however,  it's shown as a part of her like any other trait. For this she's neither vilified of martyred, it simply is.

The romance in Tarnish was rather delicious. The fun, flirty banter between Anne and Thomas Wyatt provided humour, sexual tension, and a fascinating 'what if'. I couldn't stop myself from wondering 'what if' the entire novel. The tantalizing part of historical novels are the moments where the people involved might have escaped their fate by taking another path, and this is full explored in Tarnish. The interactions between Anne and Henry are also laced with flirty banter. I found myself enthralled with both Wyatt and Henry for different reasons.

Even as I wished for Anne to escape history and run away with Thomas Wyatt, I could see the allure of Henry whenever he was on the page. His powerful presence, and the way he made Anne feel were incredibly intoxicating. Mix this with Anne's desire for something more and it's easy to see how history caught up with her. I could see how she would take the risk, and strive for the King's heart. He was fascinated with her not just for her looks, but her intelligence, and wit. As someone who wanted to be taken seriously, this would have enthralled and captivated her.

The ending is both joyous, and drenched in sadness. The Anne we leave is full of hope, and optimism about her future and love. As a reader we are all too aware that the steps she is taking will eventually lead to her death. Anne's fate, one of the most compelling aspects of her story, is beautiful foreshadowed and captured. It's woven throughout the story, and the ending brings it into stark reality.

A stunningly vivid portrayal of one of the most fascinating of Henry's wives. A sensuous, and at time bitter sweet, novel that made me admire Anne more than I already did. Fans of historical fiction will not want to miss this, and those who normally shy away from historical will find much to love between these pages as well.

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