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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Sometimes a book comes along that you not only love reading but it makes you think about your view of history. As an English woman I was taught in school of Anne's role in the reformation of the English church and divorce of Henry VIII from Katherine of Aragon, all of which was based on reports written by those who were against Anne Boleyn. I love reading books about that...
Published on 2 Oct. 2011 by Mrs Hayley Gudgin

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good light read but nothing special
This book was fine, but nothing out of the ordinary or special.

The main character was likable, if a little too innocent/good as gold - although to be fair she was only a young girl to start with. I also liked the very different take on Anne Boleyn and the way the well known story played out as a consequence.

Although I enjoyed the story well enough...
Published on 11 April 2012 by Tudorkat80


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 2 Oct. 2011
This review is from: To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Paperback)
Sometimes a book comes along that you not only love reading but it makes you think about your view of history. As an English woman I was taught in school of Anne's role in the reformation of the English church and divorce of Henry VIII from Katherine of Aragon, all of which was based on reports written by those who were against Anne Boleyn. I love reading books about that time period but some have become very much the same as each other but not this one. It was so refreshing to see an Anne with friendships and faith through the eyes her best friend, that it made me rethink what I had previously thought of her.
This story not only brought Anne to life for me but the whole court at the time, I was transported to another time and place and became invested in the lives of the characters I met there. Each character was so real to me and fully developed that I felt like I was there with them.
Seeing the new style of faith birthed during that time and the effect it had on their lives held me mesmerised and I found all too soon I had read the book completely.
Happily I can read it again at any time!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ceverly devised and beautifully executed., 19 Oct. 2011
This review is from: To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Paperback)
This is the first of Byrd's books I have read, and if this is the standard of her writing, it will not be the last.
As a lover of historical fiction I was in two minds about this book. It is a story that is well known and it is not too long since Philippa Gregory's excellent series, which I thought none could equal.
It was just a few pages before I was hooked and once again immersed in the shifting tides of Tudor courtly life.
I enjoyed the book immensely and found it to be a completely fresh view on a woman who has long been regarded as a harlot, complimenting rather than regurgitating other stories on the subject.
Byrd goes much further than simply retelling what is known but takes many names from the dusty history chalkboard and breathes life into them that challenges history as we have learned it. Each character treads their own path with compelling personality and warmth. Byrd manages to keep this tension between living characters and the known history alive throughout the book.
And yet, where there is no hope, Byrd cleverly weaves the fabric of political wrangling and the threads of changing attitudes towards the church into the struggle of the leading character, Anne Boleyn's closest friend; Meg, whose fate is yet to be decided. Will she take up the role of wife when it is before her or will she stand by her friend, come what may? Will she abandon her faith as Christendom crumbles around her or will she look to the One who is revealed by the recently published Tyndale?
Very cleverly devised and beautifully executed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reading must!, 23 Oct. 2011
This review is from: To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Paperback)
"To Die For" is a wonderful mix of history, romance and the roles of women in the court of Henry VIII
The emergence of the protestant church in England is brought to life with the difficulties and intricacies for those involved highlighted .
The story is captivating and reveals a different side to Anne Boleyn which doesn't seem to have been detailed before. Instead of the gold-digging harlot often portrayed, she is shown to be a young woman in love trying to do the best for her man, her friends and her beliefs with all the complications this can entail

The story continued to fill my thoughts and I found myself trying to rush through work to be able to get back to this book!
I would certainly recommend this novel and look forward to the next from this talented author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anne Boleyn given a more sympathetic hearing., 4 Nov. 2011
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This review is from: To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Paperback)
I liked this book on many levels and the narrative cleverly takes its two heroines (Anne Boleyn and her childhood friend Meg) from young, carefree and optimistic friends, to older women with wildly varying status, but common problems. Meg is the true and constant presence in her friend's life to the last moment as that life drains from the eyes in her brutalised head, which is a scene as tragic as anything I have ever read in fiction - deeply moving.

The facts of Anne Boleyn's life have been reasonably well documented in terms of historical accuracy. Sandra Byrd's skill here is to use the known facts and to interpret the known events in an original and highly sympathetic way. I have always harboured a feeling that Anne Boleyn was not quite the power hungry gold digger that many novels have portrayed. I have also always felt that once the King (Henry VIII) had her in his sights, she was essentially doomed. That long, chaste and exhausting pursuit of Mistress Boleyn and her ultimate decision that if she couldn't escape, she might as well go for broke and hold out for marriage and a coronation, don't seem like the actions of a heartless schemer: rather those of a woman who realised she was trapped and effectively frozen out from any other potential marriage. Sandra Byrd is clearly of a similar opinion and by giving her book's heroine the role of intimate attendant and confidante, she is able to weave a good parallel tale around Meg and her own long, troublesome courtship. Anne has the crown, the weight of dynastic expectation and a husband whose tyrannical nature becomes more and more apparent until it engulfs her. Meg ultimately has the happy ending, whose crowning glory is the love she and her husband are finally able to share.

Anne's moment comes and goes with the birth of Elizabeth - a daughter, not the longed for, fought for, lives destroyed for, son and heir. Modern medical thinking is that she could have been rhesus positive which would have meant no chance of any subsequent pregnancy succeeding - but that was something beyond contemporary understanding. Whatever the reason,Henry's obsessive love turned to disappointment, and into a need to cast aside the woman who promised so much, but failed(literally) to deliver. On such obstetric issues did many a woman's life turn in those days and Henry's exciting and unobtainable mistress, did not make a smooth transition to fruitful wife! Sandra Byrd also draws out Anne's evolving religious views in a genuine and understandable way.

All in all, great stuff - looking forward to the next one from Sandra Byrd.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Historical Fiction, 8 Mar. 2013
This review is from: To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Paperback)
This book is about Anne Boleyn's best friend Meg and their lives from before Anne became Queen up to when she died. I really enjoyed this book and it's the first historical book I've read about Kings and Queens. To Die For gave me an insight in to how Anne, Henry and Meg would have felt during the Tudor times and what it was like for other citizens living in the same area as them.

Meg was a brilliant character as she really cared about Anne. Meg would do anything for her friends and family. It was great to get an insight into her duties and how she felt about her best friend being Queen. Meg was a little shy, bold, said what was on her mind, caring and loved her friends and family. Anne was a brilliant woman who didn't, in my opinion, deserve to die by beheading. However, she was blamed for crimes she didn't commit which was the crime of cheating on the King with lots of men, including her own brother.

I learnt a lot about the duties everyone in the court had to do, such as dressing the royal members, cleaning, preparing their food, etc. It was really sad that Anne's two baby sons died in childbirth, however it was good that she had a daughter called Elizabeth. Henry could be a nice man when he wanted to be, but later in their lives he became mean, nasty and seeked other women to marry so they could produce him a male heir.

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. If you are a fan of reading historical books about Kings and Queens then this is a definite must read. It doesn't just tell you lots of facts about the time of Henry VIII, it gives you their emotions, feelings and delves deeper into their lives. If you enjoy this book then definitely check out the second novel in the series called The Secret Keeper which is about Katherine Parr.
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4.0 out of 5 stars To Die For, 26 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Paperback)
To Die For is Sandra Byrd's debut historical fiction novel. Sandra has written several contemporary fiction and nonfiction novels.

Sandra enters the Tudor's world with To Die For with Meg Wyatt and Anne Boleyn, best of friends, sneaking off alone for a forbidden horse ride without escort, for which Meg is beaten by her father. Anne is home for a visit from the French court and will shortly return.

In the first few pages of To Die For, Sandra deftly illustrates the connection between the Wyatt and Boleyn families and the dynamics within Meg's own family. Meg's father is uncompromising in his ambition to be equal to the lofty Oglivy and Boleyn stature.

After Meg's opinionated conversation with a proposed suitor sends the man running, her father states in no uncertain terms Meg's future. Submission to her father's choice of husband or incarceration is a remote, poverty stricken abbey.

Her mother is seriously ill, with Meg needed to care for her. Meg's older sister, Alice, is long married with a large brood. Her brother, Thomas, tries to protect Meg but lacks the courage and, in any event, is sent to Cambridge where he will remain for 8 years. Unfortunately, he nurses an unrequited love for Anne Boleyn.

Accompanying Thomas is William Oglivy, for whom Meg has a tender affection. Her hopes are dashed when Will announces he is studying to take priestly vows. Meg's love for Will remains steadfast even though marriage is now out of the question. Later on, her love for William and her sense of duty to Anne will be tested.

Edmund, her second brother, is a narcissistic, cruel man conspiring for, much the same as his father, the advancement of the Wyatt family. He cares nothing for Meg's sentiments and, in fact, delights in torment of his sister.

Her dying mother advises Meg to stay often with her sister to avoid her father's brutality. Advice is all she can offer her daughter.

Anne Boleyn returns from the French court to attend her sister, Mary's, wedding to William Carey. A marriage that quickly becomes a sham as Henry VIII takes Mary as a mistress and she bears him two children.

In due course, Henry discards Mary and sets out to conquer Anne, who has returned from France, all the while attempting to divorce Katherine of Aragon. Anne Boleyn's resistance of Henry's advances until they married and Henry's resolution of his "Great Matter" has been the subject of countless historical fiction novels.

Meg is married by her father's wishes to an ailing elderly man, whose inability to act as husband frees Meg to attend Anne at Court. Upon his death after several years of illness, his nephew, Simon, with the collusion of Edmund, is quick to take up the mantle of suitor, an unwelcome proposition.

Yet Sandra Byrd has approached Anne's life in a fresh, innovative fashion through the eyes of her friend, Meg, who vows to remain with Anne regardless of detrimental consequences of serving a Queen destined to plummet.

Sandra portrays Anne as a woman who schemed to become England's queen, but in a less avaricious fashion than is commonly written. Rather, Anne's love for the king is depicted as genuine and her quest for refor1mation sincere. This is not to say Anne did not enjoy and utilize her stature; she did. Anne's ambitions are tempered by her religious beliefs. To Die For attributes Anne with sowing the seeds for the roots of Reformation.

Meg rides the exhilarating ascension of Anne's favor with the King by Anne's side, but is aware Anne has dangerous enemies. The warning signs of the King's wandering attentions, witnessed in prior times, are evident. She, herself, must tread carefully to avoid the same fate that awaits Anne.

To Die For is primarily the story of two women, powerless in their own right, who seek to govern their futures without forsaking their own principles and self-respect in a world with ever shifting loyalties, self-seeking aggrandizement and fickle motives.

Sandra Byrd is the author is numerous Christian novels. I've been asked if her Ladies in Waiting Series is Christian fiction. The answer is yes and no.

In the 16th century, religion was paramount in everyone's lives, from the lowest born to the highest. Daily life was ruled by sacred doctrine. So, yes, Christianity features prominently but, no, To Die For is not deemed strictly Christian fiction. It is the story of the era, which includes people of staunch faith.

My rating: 4/5 Stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a look, 4 Jun. 2014
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I was totally immersed in this book. The characters have been beautifully portrayed and sprang to life with their own trials and tribulations. The Tudor court was brought to life along with all the intrigue and passions of the time.
This ranks as one of the most important times in English history with the birth of the Reformation and Anne and Henry's roles in it but the book doesn't get too bogged down with politics and religion which can make some novels boring.
I would recommend this book to and Anne Boleyn or Tudors fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "To Die for" by Sandra Byrd, 17 Jan. 2012
This review is from: To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Paperback)
To Die for: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
I was unsure that this book, written by an American, about people and places in English history would appeal to me: an English chap. I was intrigued by the front cover and when I started reading the first chapter I could not put it down. It was interesting and flowed effortless from one scene to another.
The book is written in the first person of Meg, a close long-term friend of Anne Boleyn. It is obviously set in a very critical time in English history and includes the cultural turmoil of relationships: royal, political, international, religious, and women's role in society. It also embodies the very critical development of Christianity in the sixteenth century.
While not purporting to be anything other than fiction it nevertheless is difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. The places, characters and geography are all credible and familiar, if not from personal knowledge from the excellent scriptural descriptions. The use of Latin and French phrases added to the cultural /historical atmosphere in the book, without causing distraction to the story.
Refreshing, I look forward to reading more of Sandra's books in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a sneaky "snuck" or two!, 12 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Paperback)
Very much enjoyed this novel - and the poetic "olde" English language of the characters added to the charm. I did wince a few times though, as the modern word "snuck" (or sneaked) surfaced in the story, glaring out even more as the rest of the dialogue was so atmospheric.

That aside, Ive already got The Secret Keeper ordered, and am happy to add this lady to my list of most-enjoyable historical novelists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another slant on the life of Anne Boleyn, 3 April 2015
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Another slant on the life of Anne Boleyn. One of the most vilified characters in history, and only now after extensive research are people beginning to realise how maligned she was. She thought she could overcome the prejudice that followed her but in the end she was a victim of male dominance and greed.
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To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Sandra Byrd (Paperback - 1 Aug. 2011)
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