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The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

3.8 52
by Robin Maxwell, Suzan Crowley (Read by)

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Robin Maxwell’s debut novel introduces Anne Boleyn and her daughter, Elizabeth: one was queen for a thousand days, the other for more than forty years. Both were passionate, headstrong women, loved and hated by Henry VIII.

At the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, her mother’s private diary is given to her by a mysterious lady. In reading it,


Robin Maxwell’s debut novel introduces Anne Boleyn and her daughter, Elizabeth: one was queen for a thousand days, the other for more than forty years. Both were passionate, headstrong women, loved and hated by Henry VIII.

At the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, her mother’s private diary is given to her by a mysterious lady. In reading it, the young ruler — herself embroiled in a dangerous love affair — discovers a great deal about her much maligned mother.

Through Anne’s writing, Elizabeth finds an echo of her own dramatic life as a powerful young woman at the center of England’s male establishment and, with the knowledge gained from it, makes a resolution that will change the course of history.

“A wonderfully juicy historical novel so convincing that it’s difficult to believe it is the author’s first. . . . Maxwell brings . . . all of bloody Tudor England vividly to life.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An historical fiction classic. Beware: this is truly addictive reading.” — Michelle Moran, author of Madame Tussaud

“Dazzling. Historical fiction at its finest.” - C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de’ Medici

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is a wonderfully juicy historical novel so convincing that it's difficult to believe it is the author's first. Just as the newly crowned Elizabeth I is about to become amorously involved with a power-hungry nobleman, an old friend of her mother's appears, shriveled and decrepit, bearing a tome written in the hand of the new queen's mother, Anne Boleyn. The friend had promised Anne that she would deliver the diary to Elizabeth when she reached maturity. Orphaned at age three, Elizabeth grew up knowing almost nothing of her notorious mother but what official history put forth: that she was an adulterer and traitor and deserved to die. From her mother's diary, she learns the truth, the inside scoop on the lusty, unstable King Henry, the good and pious Queen Katherine, scheming Cardinal Wolsey, high-minded Thomas More, King Francis I of France, Emperor Charles of Spain and others. Elizabeth learns, too, of her mother's life-from her youth, through her tempestuous courtship and marriage to Henry VIII, which ended with her being beheaded. Elizabeth thus becomes acquainted with the mother she had never really known at precisely the moment when she most needs a mother's advice. She picks up valuable survival skills along the way-two of which, concerning the treachery of men and the unreliability of courtiers, deeply impress the young queen and help explain the mystery of why she never wed. Painting vicious court intrigue, national and international politics and the role of the Reformation, Maxwell brings not only the two queens but all of bloody Tudor England vividly to life. (Apr.)
Library Journal
This first novel supposes that Anne Boleyn, second wife to King Henry VIII of England, kept a secret diary that was delivered to her daughter, Elizabeth, upon her succession to the throne. Elizabeth was only three when Anne was renounced by Henry, tried for treason, and sentenced to death. Now, despite her queenly schedule, juggling affairs of state and heart, Elizabeth finds time to read her mother's story avidly and learns lessons that will secure her reign. It is an intriguing premise that knowledge of Anne's sad fate leads Elizabeth resolutely to defy the customs of her time and ignore her advisers' counsel and her suitors' pleas to marry. Remaining single and healthy, Elizabeth rules long and well. Filled with fascinating descriptions of court life and references to historical figures and events, this novel is highly recommended for fiction collections.-Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
Saria Kraft
Maxwell knows her stuff…In her treatment of Tudor's greatest tragedy, Robin Maxwell has gone where no man has gone before.
—Saria Kraft, Malibu Times
Marie Donovan
A novel with depth, character, and a compelling plot.
—Rose—Marie Donovan, Delray Times
From the Publisher
“A wonderfully juicy historical novel so convincing that it’s difficult to believe it is the author’s first…Maxwell brings all of bloody Tudor England vividly to life.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"In this dramatic retelling of Anne Boleyn's life, Maxwell creates an historical fiction classic. But beware: this is truly addictive reading.”—Michelle Moran, author of Madame Tussaud

“Dazzling. Historical fiction at its finest." - C.W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
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5.37(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"God's Death!" roared Elizabeth. "Will you not give me one day's respite from this tiresome pestering? You make my head ache."

The Queen's councillors could hardly keep pace with the extraordinarily tall and slender woman now moving in great strides across Whitehall's wide lawn to her waiting mount.

Her chief advisor, William Cecil, a stern and steady man of middle age, was torn between admiration and despair of his new young queen, now attired in a purple velvet riding habit, her goldred hair flying long and unbound behind her. Headstrong and stubborn did not begin to describe Elizabeth Tudor at twenty-five. Reckless she was, lacking in anything vaguely resembling restraint, with a razor wit and a bawdy tongue unfitting England's monarch. But, he was forced to admit, her intellect was broad and magnificent. She spoke six languages as fluently as her own and was easily as magnetic as her father Henry VIII had been in his long and turbulent life. If only, thought Cecil, she did not take such perverse delight in outraging the great lords whom she had appointed to counsel her. Cecil chanced her further wrath.

"I beg Your Majesty to give the archduke Charles more thought. He is, besides being the best match in Christendom, said to be, for a man, beautiful and well-faced."

"And, more important," added Elizabeth with a decidedly lascivious leer, "well-thighed and well-legged."

"I'm told his stoop is not noticeable when he's on horseback," added Lord Clinton, hoping they were gaining some ground. But Elizabeth stopped in her tracks and turned on them so suddenly that the councillors collided with one another like players in a stagecomedy.

"And I am told he's a young monster with an enormous head! Good Christ, the pitiable choices for husband you offer give me scant cause to change my state of matrimony."

"Prince Eric is a..."

"Lumpen Swede," finished Elizabeth.

"But he's very rich, Your Majesty, and generous to the extreme."

"But that ridiculous delegation who came simpering to court in their crimson robes with velvet badges of arrow-pierced hearts...?" Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "You ask me to consider the French king who has stolen Calais, our only remaining port on the Continent...and Philip, my queen sister's swarthy Spanish widower, who is a devout and unwavering Catholic?! Come now, gentlemen, surely you can do better than that."

"Are the English suitors more to your liking, then?"

"The English suitors?" Elizabeth's eyes seemed to soften, and a hint of a smile tilted the comers of her scarlet mouth. She turned and continued at a more leisurely pace toward her fine chestnut stallion trapped in a footmantle laced with gold, and toward the tall well-built young man of confident posture and athletic grace who stood beside it, reins in hand. Cecil regarded Robert Dudley, the Queen's Master of the Horse, with quiet annoyance. It was surely Dudley who brought the smile to the Queen's lips and the almost languorous sway to her walk as she crossed the remaining distance to her mount.

"Indeed," she purred, "I do like my English suitors far better."

Cecil could hear the councillors grumbling discreetly at the sight of Robert Dudley. This arrogant nobleman's outrageous pursuit of the Queen and her even more scandalous acceptance of that pursuit were creating an unwholesome climate that imperiled Elizabeth's chances of marrying honorably here or abroad. For Dudley, believed by many to be the Queen's lover, was a married man. Cecil pushed out of his mind the thought that Elizabeth's wanton behavior was her way of insuring that she would never have to marry, but could instead keep a series of lovers throughout her reign; worse, that the Queen might be showing a streak of her mother's nature. The Boleyn blood was tainted with perversity. As it was, everyone -- from Elizabeth's royal advisors who supplied her with endless choices for matrimony, to her childhood mistress Kat Ashley who begged the Queen to come to her senses, to her loyal subjects who petitioned her daily -- was demanding that for her honor's sake and the welfare of the kingdom she marry and relinquish the reins of government to her lawful husband.

Elizabeth approached Dudley, who, rising from a deep bow, stood straight and manly, his strong features and clear-eyed expression forcing even Cecil to admit the horsemaster was a fine figure of noble virility. Dudley locked his gaze on the Queen's. With no thought to the disapproving stares of her councillors, Elizabeth reached up and with careless intimacy caressed Dudley's cheek, drawing her long white fingers down his face, slowly tracing the sharp fine of his jaw and chin, ending with a tiny tickle in the hollow of his throat.

"How does my great stallion?" she asked, suppressing a smile. Perhaps the outraged sniffs and sharp intake of breath from behind prompted her to slap the chestnut steed's massive flank with a resounding thump, affording her stunned councillors the distant but grateful possibility that the Queen's remark was not the grossly vulgar one they suspected.

She turned to Cecil and bestowed on her advisors a warm, playful smile. "My lords Clinton, Arundel, and North, I do greatly appreciate your clement advisements and take them to heart." She allowed Robert Dudley to boost her onto the horse, and sat tall and regal in the saddle looking down upon the men. "My choice of husband and king is one not lightly made, requiring much reflection. So you will forgive a poor weak woman's hesitancy to commit. But I do promise this. When the decision is made, you will indeed be the first to know. Good day, gentlemen."

With a swift kick her horse was off. Dudley, inclining a mockingly respectful head to the councillors, leapt upon his own horse and sped off after the Queen, who had already attained a full gallop.

Cecil and the other chagrined advisors turned and, without meeting each other's eyes, began a slow and troubled walk back to the royal palace.

It was late in the afternoon when the first sunshine pierced the overcast, falling through the cottage window in a golden swath across Elizabeth's pearl white and naked breasts. Dudley, reclining close beside her propped upon an elbow, traced a lazy path around the small dove-soft mounds with a rough-skinned but gentle hand. He grazed the rosy nipple and it moved beneath his touch. An unexpected sigh escaped the mouth whose painted lips had by now been kissed clean. Her eyes fluttered behind the lids and opened slowly.

Elizabeth and Dudley had had a hard ride through green April fields and come at last to the royal hunting lodge, a rough and tiny timbered house at the edge of Duncton Wood. The pair had entered laughing, breathless from their exertions but with the blood racing in every extremity, and had fallen into passionate embraces and kisses, and, as had been progressing in the months preceding, to several intimacies.

"You take some liberties with your queen, my love," Elizabeth murmured with just a trace of sharpness.

Measuring his words and finding room for boldness, Dudley replied, "I mean to take more, Your Majesty."

Her protracted and steady gaze was surely meant to cause hesitation. But Dudley was a man aroused and almost past caring. Elizabeth's sleeves and bodice lay undone around her reedlike torso, but the skirts and petticoats of her velvet riding habit were still intact upon her hips and legs, though rumpled and softened by the steamy vapors of their afternoon's embraces.

His wandering hand caressed Elizabeth's waspish waist and the hot, moist ridges of her spine. He pushed his fingers down beneath the lacy underkirtle to find the soft vee between her buttocks and, with this grasp, pulled her hips against his. She gasped in sudden pleasure and, so emboldened, with the skirt all loosened from above, he groped to find her

Meet the Author

Robin Maxwell, a graduate of Tufts University, screenwriter for film and television, and serious student of Tudor England, spent twelve years researching and writing The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn. Her novels have been translated into sixteen languages. Robin lives in the high desert of California with her husband, yogi Max Thomas, where she runs the Book Club Weekend Getaway.

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Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read quite a few books on Anne Boleyn, and this is a great one. Obviously, the real Anne did not write the book, but it is very accurate and believeable. By the end, felt so sad, since I felt I knew Anne. It is not too detailed, as a previous review says. (This is not exactly material a high schooler would like.) It is great historical fiction, and very well written.
JessaRN More than 1 year ago
I love Tudor England historical fiction. This story put a different twist on the Anne Boleyn story. It painted Anne Boleyn in a different light. It portrayed her personality in a more positive light rather than power-hungry. It also psychologically displays Queen Elizabeth and assists you to make assumptions on her life decisions. Quick and worthy read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robin Maxwell's fictional account of the life of Anne Boleyn is an incredibly interesting, although somewhat inaccurate, translation of the events surrounding the lives of her characters. As history leaves much to be desired of the life of the unfortunate queen, Maxwell's perceptive ability to fill in the gaps can cause any history buff's mouth to water. Furthermore, it is also an interesting example of the reign of Henry VIII, and the plight of women at the time. Setting aside several technical errors within the book, it is both an interesting and thrilling read. I certainly would recommend this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a wonderful treat, detailed, and had duel storylines, which kept the interest going. Makes you rethink the true life of Anne Boleyn, brings up the good things in her that history seems to overlook. Great book, a joy for true history fans to read. Not as riveting as Phillipa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, but a very fine account with a different slant.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn was good. It gave the reader a good idea of what Anne Boleyn's life was like from her own perspective. Her daughter,Elizabeth, is given her mothers diary after becoming queen. She reads about her mother's life from her marraige all the way to her tragic death. After this she feels more sympathetic and caring towards her mother. Through this diary Elizabeth learns much about her mother and father. This book gives a good description of the lives of Henry and Anne in much detail. Overall, I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about the tudor time period from it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best historical novels that I have ever read. Maxwell geniusly brings to life Elizabeth Tudor, her mother Anne Boleyn, and the backround figures that made their history possible. I found the ending immensly powerful as well as thought provoking. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the Tudor Dynasty.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book if you want to learn history through a story. I've always been fascinated with Anne Boleyn, and this book shows both the innocent and scheming sides to her nature. I felt it was a nice, objective portrait of a truly fascinating woman.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It is amazingly descriptive and really loved reading it. Any one who has an intrest in either Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth would enjoy this book. Anne Boleyn is often looked down upon in books as a witch or as devious, cuel or even evil, and it was wonderful to hear the story from her point of view. After reading it I was quite a bit more sympathetic towards her. Robin Maxwell did a wonderful job of making you belive that you are actually reading something that Anne Boleyn wrote nearly 470 years ago. Very realistic, I couldn't put it down. Other books about this era that I enjoyed were Mary, Bloody Mary about Henry VIII's first daughter and Beware, Princess Elizabeth both by Carolyn Meyer. They are much easier reads, but fun. Carolyn Meyer also wrote a book about Anne Boleyn, but I have yet to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A seamless blend of historical fact and fiction. I found this a very entertaining read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very intriguing book that I would recommend- I am not one to sit around and read a book, but this caught my attention. The details of the people and how they lived during the Tudor dynasty is amazing! We were discussing this time period in World History class and it was neat to see my teachers face light up when I knew more about Anne Boleyn than he did! An outstanding book has to be very detailed and well written- I think this has all that and more! It was amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book because I love learning about the court of Henry VIII, his children, and wives. Anne is a lady-in-waiting for Queen Catherine of Aragon. Suddenly she finds that King Henry VIII is madly in love with her. Her uncle presures her into marrying him and finally she does. I cried when I read this book. To imagine what Anne went through is terrible. This book is heart-breaking and sad. I highly recomend it. It is great. *Two thumbs up*
Guest More than 1 year ago
SDAB explores this possible but improbable idea: What if Anne Boleyn kept a diary??? When it falls into the hands of her daughter Queen Elizabeth I, history's course is set! This is a work of fiction, but like all great historical fiction SDAB teaches you a lot about the period it is set in. Novels of Anne Boleyn are scarce, or focus to much on the whorish gossip. This is an incredible find for anyone who loves historical fiction or the Tudor Period, and an unfathomable treasure trove for a person with a deep fascination in Anne Boleyn!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to keep reminding myself that this is a work of fiction!! The whole story flows and fits so well with what little I do know about the Tudor period. The small bits of romance were genius; without them, I might have felt like I was reading a textbook. My one complaint would be that there were far too many names to remember. By the end of the book, I was getting Anne's enemies confused with her friends, which made for quite a few re-read paragraphs. Overall, though, definately recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
as a Voracious reader of historical fiction, and a fan of the Tudor period I Read this with enthusiasm and finished it in a night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deliciously written historical fiction, rekindles the fascination with 16th century British monarchs. The well-kept diary reconnects Anne with the mind and heart of her powerful daughter Elizabeth I, and gives voice to Anne's influence on the English church reform and liberation from the Vatican yolk. I didn't want to finish this superb novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn was very good. It gave a good description of what Anne Boleyn's life was like from her own perspective. Her daughter, Elizabeth, is given the diary after she becomes queen. Anne's diary tells of her marriage to King Henry all the way to her tragic death. After reading this Elizabeth becomes more sympathetic and caring towards her mother. She learns a lot about her mother and father that she never knew. This book gives a good idea of what the lives of king Henry, Anne Boleyn, and even some of Elizabeth's were like with much detail. Overall, I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about the Tudor time period.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a great page turner. It goes in depth of Anne's life and the way she lived. By the time you've turned the last page you feel like you've met Anne and Elizabeth. The book has great imigery, you can see the world that's being told.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so good!! I loved it!!! I recomed it 2 anybody. I use 2 love readin bout henry VIII till i found out what he did 2 his wifes and how cruel he was. This was all bout the rise and fall of anne boleyn and u will love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was very enthralling. I especially enjoyed reading about how she held Henry VIII off at a distance, yet still had him in the palm of her hand. I was saddened by the outcome of the book, but it was terrific reading, a real page turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed every line
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting reading for history buffs even if it is fiction.
BookLover1420 More than 1 year ago
This is a fiction story based on historical fact. Anne Bolyen was Elizabeth's the 1st's Mother and Elizabeth was the greatest Queen England ever knew, so that is fact. The diary and events within are fiction, but written in such a way one could believe them as fact. I enjoyed this glimpse into both very powerful women's lives and can only imagine what it could be like for a child to never have really known her mother and be told all her life how 'bad' and 'evil' her mother was. A must read for those who adore Tudor history and fiction.