Win £500 in book vouchers by helping us with a 7 minute reader survey click here.

books of the month likeyoulove join us on facebook

The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn
  

The Queen of Subtleties

Historical Fiction   Reading Groups   eBook Favourites   
Download an extract Share this book

Lovereading view...

This review is provided by bookgroup.info.

This is a re-telling of a familiar and historic fairytale - how a beautiful young queen falls from enchantress to public enemy. As she attracts increasingly bad press, both King and court choose to believe the worst about her. Suzannah Dunn adds her own stamp to the catastrophic story of Anne Boleyn.

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. We all know the deaths of Henry's six wives, but how much is known of their lives? This is the starting point for Dunn's clever, compelling new book - the obscure and intriguing life of Anne Boleyn. The story is told by two narrators, Queen Anne on the eve of her execution and Lucy Cornwallis, who was the only female cook in Henry's kitchens, and had the important role as the King's sweet maker. It becomes clear that Lucy is the eponymous queen, and whose subtleties - delicious sugar and marzipan confections, could rival any mistress for the King's affection. As we all know, Henry's court was a dangerous place, full of intrigue and plot, especially for a young queen who had yet to forge powerful alliances. Gradually Anne becomes deeply woven into a web of deceit as her enemies conspire to bring about her downfall, through whatever means they could. This also went as far as a near total discrediting of her only child, Elizabeth; but as they say, the rest is history.

How you feel about Queen of Subtleties depends on your view of historical novels in general. So little is known about Anne's life, because her enemies simply erased or blackened her memory and Suzannah Dunn has pieced together a jigsaw puzzle of known and fictionalised pieces. This cleverly creates a plausible and enchanting version of Anne's life, written in a completely modern, vernacular style. This book certainly challenges preconceptions about Anne, and I rather hope that she was, as Dunn has written, a courageous, likeable and quick-witted woman.

The Lovereading view...

A lovely author giving us a fresh spin on Anne Boleyn. This time she is clever and independent minded rather than scheming and deviant

If you like Suzannah Dunn you might also like to read books by Jude Morgan, Karen Harper and Anne Tyler.

Win a signed book proof of Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn

Get into the Spirit of Christmas with our special SIGNED COPY competition! We are giving away one very desirable book proof of Anne Boleyn, Alison Weir's 2nd novel in her Six Tudor Queens historical fiction series.

To have a chance of winning one of these fantastic prizes, click the button below. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once.

The draw closes on 4 December 2017. The winners will be notified by 11th December 2017.

Good luck!

Enter prize draw Draw closes: 04/12/2017

Synopsis

The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn

Everyone knows the story of Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII divorced his longstanding, long-suffering, older, Spanish wife for a young, black-eyed English beauty, and, in doing so, severed England from Rome and indeed from the rest of the western world. Then, when Henry had what he wanted, he managed a mere three years of marriage before beheading his wife for alleged adultery with several men, among them his own best friend and her own brother.

This is the context for Suzannah Dunn's wonderful new novel, which is about – and told by – two women: Anne Boleyn, king's mistress and fated queen; and Lucy Cornwallis, the king's confectioner, an employee of the very highest status, who made the centrepiece of each of the feasts to mark the important occasions in Anne's ascent. There's another link between them, though: the lovely Mark Smeaton, wunderkind musician, the innocent on whom, ultimately, Anne's downfall hinged…

Suzannah Dunn has all the equipment needed for literary-commercial success: wit, a mastery of dialogue, brilliant characterization, lack of pretence, and good humour. The Queen of Subtleties adds to that mix a wonderfully balanced, strong story; Dunn has plumped for a fascinating retelling of one of the most often-told, most compelling stories of our islands' history. In doing so, she's turning from contemporary stories to historical fiction. The result is sensational.

Reviews

'THE QUEEN OF SUBTLETIES offers a stunningly refreshing way of retelling an old story. I often abandon historical novels nowadays, but I really could not put this one down. It brings Anne Boleyn to life as never before, and, probably for the first time ever in fiction, Henry VIII emerges as a truly credible character in an authentic setting.' Alison Weir, author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII

‘The story of Anne Boleyn has been told many times, but never in such an earthy, plausible way, straight from the bedrooms and kitchens of Henry VIII.’ Glamour

About the Author

Suzannah Dunn

Suzannah Dunn was our Guest Editor in June 2011 - click here - to see the books that inspired her writing.

Suzannah Dunn is the author of nine previous novels, Darker Days Than Usual, Blood Sugar, Past Caring, Quite Contrary, Venus Flaring, Tenterhooks, Commencing our Descent. The Queen of Subtleties (her first novel) tells the story of Anne Boleyn's downfall and was followed by the bestselling The Sixth Wife, the heartrending downfall of Katherine Parr in 2007. Her most recent novel The Queen's Sorrow, about the tragedy of Mary Tudor, was published in 2008. She lives in Shropshire.

Author photo © Caroline Forbes

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

3rd January 2005

Author

Suzannah Dunn

More books by Suzannah Dunn
Author 'Like for Like'
    recommendations

Author's Website

suzannahdunn.net/
Loading twitter updates...

Publisher

HarperPerennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Format

Paperback
352 pages

Categories

Historical Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780007139385

It has enriched my leisure time by introducing me to a world of books which I would not have previously considered.

Val Rowe

Why I love @lovereadinguk? It's in the name - as dedicated lovers of reading, they are perfect matchmakers for helping me find my next read!

Catherine Jenkins

I love that Lovereading handpicks very special debut reads.

Magda North

Lovereading helps me decide what real people read.

Kerry Bridges

My favourite thing about is the 'like for like' page this has really introduced me to some good reads! That and lots of honest reviews.

Sam Lewis

Love Reading - it not only does what it says on the tin, it does it with Jam on!!

Maz Tucker

Lovereading takes the guesswork out of finding your next read with "if you like you'll love" and extracts to help with your decision.

Sarah Bruch

Lovereading is a wonderful way to expand my literary horizons, discover inspiring authors & get the chance to read new novels first. #loveit

Zarina de Ruiter

Lovereading4kids

Lovereading4schools