Wednesday, September 9, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: A Lady Raised High, by Laurien Gardner



A Lady Raised High is the story of Frances Pierce, Anne Boleyn’s first maid-of-honour; loyal and faithful to her until the queen’s tragic end.

Frances‘father was a baronet in Hertfordshire and her mother, a French baron’s daughter. The family pretty much ran their own estate and took care of their lands and tenants. Against the proper order of things, such as finding a husband and living off the land-Frances, a seventeen year-old girl who cared more about writing poetry than learning how to fold linen, aspired to a life filled with poetry, romance and adventure.

The story begins with an adventure in itself when King Henry VIII, his hunting party, and the Lady Anne, his future bride, pass through Frances’ village. Contrary to Frances’s excitement of witnessing the event, some of the milling villagers had another kind of welcome in plan for England’s future queen…


Rather than the usual cheering and festive turnout for such an occasion, some of the local women had gathered mud to slay the hated woman who they thought bewitched the King into throwing their good Queen Catherine aside. Aware of their dangerous and humiliating plan, Frances immediately rides her horse to the receiving side to serve as shield and protector. Frances takes the blows of mud and stones for the beautiful Lady Anne.

Anne is grateful to Frances for her display of courage and protection. In turn, she summons the brave girl to her court where she appoints her as lady-in-waiting. Needless to say, this is a great disappointment to Frances’ family. Despite her beliefs, Frances’ mother understands that being at court could increase her daughter’s chances of marrying well. Hence, she concedes and gives Frances permission to go.


From then on, Frances is always by Anne’s side. Frances’ innocence, kindness and attempts to cheer through verses and rhymes endear her to her Queen. She becomes Anne’s most trusted confidante. A rarity in itself since life at court was a place where no one could be trusted. Deception and treachery abounded in every corner and Frances’ innocence led her to almost lose her ways. ..Enter Jack Carlisle…her savior in more ways than one- but also King Henry’s faithful servant and right-hand man…


The story, seen through Frances’ eyes is told with such clarity and flow that it was an absolute pleasure for me to read this. Throughout the book we encounter historical figures that play both key and minor roles in Anne’s life. I really enjoyed reading some of the dialog that Frances shared with Mary Howard, her then good friend. Tid-bits of other characters’ lives are also enmeshed into the plot-making it such an interesting and credible read. For instance, George Boleyn is an integral part of this book seen through the eyes of an infatuated young Frances, bringing about a completely different perspective that resulted in a course of events that I wasn’t expecting at all.

Another thing that was especially captivating was the way the author, Laurien Gardner, adds creative dimension without necessarily depriving her work of historical accuracy. Dialogs contain depth as well as spontaneity and the language is prim and typical of the times.
A Lady Raised High brought Anne closer and more real seen through such a devoted perspective. That said, there was neither embellishment of character nor misleading interpretations. The storyline flows, reads well and is completely absorbing. It is an excellent read for Anne Boleyn lovers and for those who care to learn more about this misunderstood queen and the lady who served her as friend, confidante and devoted subject.

Splendid!
-

16 comments:

virginiebarbeau said...

I've had this book for awhile now, but haven't had the chance to read it. Great review! I read Laurien Gardner's 'Plain Jane' and loved it.

Roberta said...

Oh my...another book to add to my pile...it sounds wonderful and I like the way it's about the Tudors but not the normal characters. So many to read and so little time...espcially with fall here and the holidays coming. Have a great week, Roberta

Cinderella said...

Thank you for the review - you made me want to read this book.

Marie Burton said...

I've got this one waiting for me.. since May I believe.. I really enjoyed Plain Jane in this series, and this was a fabuloooooouuus review Lucy, I'll just have to move it up in my pile.

HODGEPODGESPV said...

ok, here's another one to add to my list! like you i love really good books about this time period. thank you for a good review.

lilly said...

Never heard of the author or the book but since you say it's a splendid novel I guess I'll just have to add it to my ever-growing TBR list :)

Robinbird said...

Read this one along with Plain Jane and the one on Katherine of Aragon. I enjoyed them as well!

Jenny Girl said...

Ah someone in the English Court for a change. Frances sounds like a very brave soul. This sounds great. Thanks Ms. Lucy

Marg said...

I bought all three books that came out from this author as soon as they came out, but still haven't read any of them. Interestingly, each of the three books in this series was actually written by three different authors.

dolleygurl said...

I'm so glad I read your review - I thought this book was about Anne! A great review - This has been on my TBR for awhile and at least now I know what it is about! Thanks!

Arleigh said...

I've wondered why they chose to create a pseudonym and have different authors write under it. It's sort of unfair to readers because we expect the same style and prose from each one. I liked Plain Jane okay... it's hard to find a book on her and I thought it was well done, except that Anne was horribly evil in it. I tried The Spanish Bride and couldn't get into it. So, I decided not to read A Lady Raised High, but you've given it a great review!

Ms. Lucy said...

Hi Virginie- I haven't read the Plain Jane one, but am planning to. Thanks:)

Hey Roberta- There's never enough time for all these wonderful books out there...one at a time I always say; and then I frantically pack in all my reading! Have a great weekend too:)

Cinderella- You're welcome! That's how I feel about all those royals you always point out to me- I want to read more about them too. Thanks:)

Thanks Marie:) I think you'd really like this one. It's just written in that way that keeps you reading on. I always find it wonderful when I can enjoy a good book without too much to study and look up. Goes with the flow:)

Hi Hodgepodge- This one really is good enough to add to your list:) Thanks for your comment:)

Hi Lilly- You won't be disappointed, I promise:) Thanks!

Thanks Robinbird:)

Hey Jennygirl- This Frances is indeed a brave soul; she stuck by Anne until the very end. Although she seemed quite simple and a bit air-headed at times- mostly due to her age and her free spirited ways, she was quite remarkable and courageous to have been part of this at her own will. Thanks:)

Hi Marg- Thsat is really strange about the three different authors. I wonder why that is- I also noticed other pen names on her site...?? Thanks:)

Hi Dolleygirl- Actually, it really is a lot about Anne, but mostly about Frances, life in relation to Anne and Henry's court. There's a lot about her relationship with Jack as well...and lots more. Thanks:)

Hi Arleigh- I didn't know about the different style or prose- but if you say that the two books you read by her were so different...then, that is even stranger coming from the same author? Anyway, this one is worth reading though:) Thanks:)

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

This looks fantastic! I love the books I have read about Anne Boleyn... she was my first historical fiction read and I have just lept on going from there!

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

I agree with Marie, this is a fab review! I've been on a hiatus from Tudorville just because I was reading so many of the same stories that they were starting to get played out. But this looks like a very interesting point of view, something new and different! And I would love to read that dialogue between Frances and Mary Howard, you make it sound so intriguing! I've been waiting for a book to pull me out of my un-Tudor funk, this might just be the one. Thanks so much Lucy :)

Paris Atelier said...

Oh Ms. Lucy!!! You make my list of books to read soooo long! I love it though, as soon as I am finish one and I am on the prowl for another, you always have the perfect read for me!!! I love your picks always! Sorry I've been absent for so long, I'm back now and enjoying catching up on your posts!
xoxo
Judith~

Marie Burton said...

Looking forward to i, Plain Jane was intriguing and fun, a weekend read, and I am looking forward to another one of those.