Monday, July 22, 2013

Review of Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

Viking Children's
Tarnish (Companion Novel to Gilt)
by Katherine Longshore
4 Scribbles

Anne Boleyn wants to be somebody; but that’s difficult in Henry the VIII’s court back in the early 1500s, where politics and social gossip can make or break a gal. Worse, Anne has trouble following the rules; when she has an opinion she voices it, unfortunately, this isn’t a world where the voice of a girl is welcome. So when Thomas Wyatt offers to help make her “popular” in court and give her a chance to be heard, Anne agrees. But will she find love in the process? And if so, will that love destroy her?
This isn’t your typical historical YA novel. For one thing the author stops short of extending the story to the end of Anne’s Boleyn’s life, preferring instead to explore what her life may have been like as a teenager and before her marriage to Henry VIII (since history reveals how that turned out.) It is written in the bawdy and edgy style of the period and doesn’t sugar coat the amount of womanizing the kings of history (and some might argue the present) tended to do, nor does it romanticize the fact that during these times and in Anne’s own words, “a woman [has] no choice. You have to do what your father says. And eventually what your husband says. You can use your feminine wiles to encourage certain outcomes, but at the end of the day, their will is the only will that matters.” For Anne, lust will determine her future, even though she is obviously a wily and plucky character who craves individuality and control over her destiny. Supporting characters like Anne’s best friend Jane, her humble sister, Mary, her often inebriated brother, George, and of course the romantic poet Thomas Wyatt, are also interesting and well-drawn. The vocabulary is quite advanced, and the descriptive language is phenomenal. At times while reading the walls of my room fell away for me, and there was only castle, tapestries, finely dressed lords and ladies and the dance. Therefore, teens who want an easy, quick historical novel might want to look to less sophisticated writing, but those who want a challenge, and to see how a talented writer takes well-researched elements of history and weaves an interesting tale filled with intrigue and unexpected turns, should scoop this one up.

Oh, and if you haven't read Gilt, no worries. This is a stand alone, even if it can be read as a companion work.

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