Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Different Perspectives of Anne

*** This blog post is going to have spoilers about "Third." Be warned! :-) Don't read on if you do not want spoilers.
*** This blog post is going to have spoilers about "Third." Be warned! :-) Don't read on if you do not want spoilers.
*** This blog post is going to have spoilers about "Third." Be warned! :-) Don't read on if you do not want spoilers.

One thing I love about my books is the wonderful conversation they inspire. This has never been more true than with "Third." My other books, particularly "Strange Bedfellows" (which has the most reviews of my books by far), have led to some interesting discussions. "Third" definitely is taking the cake in depth of discussion so far, though. A few days ago, I posted a convo with Linda North.

I had another conversation earlier today with a friend of mine who has not read "Third" but is going to (once she gets her library books due soon read! ;-) ). Given her comments, I thought having a before/after conversation would be interesting. I'm not promising an "after" conversation, but I hope one will happen.

Anyway, my friend knows about this post and she is, shall we say, anti-Anne. Quite anti-Anne.

If you're new to "Third" and have no idea who this Anne is, let me slip the blurb in here for you:

Helen Franklin is horrified when her dying father leaves her a most unusual inheritance: a woman. Furthermore, the woman, Anne, is anything but ordinary. She is a time traveler with a tragic past. Helen tells herself she does not have time for Anne. Yalia, Helen's wife, has been distancing herself from Helen for three years, and Helen needs to decide if she wants to save their marriage.

Then the unexpected happens. A romantic relationship develops among Yalia, Anne and Helen. Can the three of them figure out their lives together, especially when time might be running out for Anne?

And here's the review that prompted my friend to say the things she did.

FINAL WARNING: *** This blog post is going to have spoilers about "Third." Be warned! :-)

OK, so you probably know that Benjamin Franklin is an important supporting character in "Third," but I haven't said publicly yet who Anne is. It is not a huge secret. Her identity is fairly easy to suss out in the first two chapters for people who know history well. And for people who don't, her identity is revealed in Chapter Three.

Anyway, Anne is Anne Boleyn (see portrait at right). Annnd here's the convo between my friend and me. Her part is in bold.

My biggest problem with the idea of this book is actually not the three-way relationship or even the time travel part, but the woman you chose to be your 'Anne'. I think I have a pretty good idea who she is, and while she was very smart and was able to have an entire system in the society of her time changed just for her, she was also a [bleep] and was not a friend of women. She looked for validation from men. Other women were there only to be the backs she climbed on on her way to the top. She was cruel to her husband's ex-wife and daughter. I will grant that her husband was the bigger [bleep], but she helped encourage him because it improved her standing in his eyes. Her fall was spectacular, and she pretty much reaped what she sowed. Her end was sad, and I did feel sorry for her then. Maybe you did address all of that in your book? I don't know.

It also got me thinking about the other women this Anne had a connection to in her time and was thinking that if the last three women in that group hadn't been obviously attracted to men, they would have been interesting contenders. All three had their lives ended prematurely in different ways. One of them lived a nice long time, but she was never allowed to have an romantic relationship or have children. One was young and silly but would have been traumatized enough to avoid men, and the other I think would have been the most interesting. She was smart, capable, yet had to submit all the time to what men wanted. Her one true love betrayed her with her stepdaughter. Then she died. Definitely an unfinished life!

I'll have to read your book though, I want to see how you pulled it off!

Yep, I grant Anne was cruel to Catherine of Aragon and Mary. That's addressed explicitly in the book. As for the other stuff, it's a matter of perspective and which historian you ask, although it's true Anne likely had no women friends except Lady Lee. That's in the book too. Anne didn't bother with society women's idle chatter.

Also, it's unclear if Catherine Parr's husband ever did anything with Elizabeth. May have, maybe not. That's why there's historical fic. One more thing about Anne, she was pretty much forced into doing what she did by her father. I maybe shouldn't say this (it's spoilerish) -- but after reading Tudor books, Anne realizes just how bad she was to Mary. She decides she would pick Mary over her own daughter Elizabeth to bring back to the present because she wants Mary's forgiveness so much. The ending has Anne getting Mary...kinda. You'll have to read to find out what I mean.

Well, it would be nice to have Mary I to have a redo of her life. Apparently she was a lot like Elizabeth when she was young: smart, sweet, nice. She was always nice to her younger sister until politics interfered. Emperor Shaddam IV said it best: blood is thicker than water, but politics is thickest of all! I may have not quoted exactly but you get the gist. If Mary lets go of her crystallized perspective on life, then she could grow into a new person.

As for Anne, her dad may have encouraged her to do it, but she threw herself into it. If she didn't want the prize so much, she could have had sex with Henry and told dear old dad, he made me get into bed with him, I didn't have a choice, and she would have been right. Henry would not have seen himself as an rapist; he believed enough in his charms to do that, but one doesn't refuse the king after the dance of courtship without a good reason! (I wonder if this would work, "Your Majesty, I have the clap," heh.) Men were real [bleep] back then, which brings me to Catherine P.'s husband. He may or may not have done something with Elizabeth, but his intent was clear, and once Catherine P. saw it for what it was, it had to hurt a lot.

Yeah, I have people wanting a sequel! Mary has always fascinated me. I would love to do something on her too, but I don't get the same "vibe" I do with Anne that Mary could be a lesbian. But, who knows. If I write a sequel to "Third," I imagine Mary would be in it. Probably as straight. Anyway, that's true Anne could've done all that. I can't imagine what it would've been like to be in her shoes, though. Hindsight is 20/20. And if she was a lesbian, I could see how it would be extremely easy for her to think all she had to do was not have sex for seven years and have a nice life. We have a young woman whose sister is sleeping with the king at the behest of their father, and then the sister is discarded. The father pins all his hopes on his second daughter. It must have been a confusing situation for Anne with no clear "right" path. You said men were real [bleep], and that's exactly right. We don't know what Thomas Boleyn may have threatened Anne with, or if he had more subtle ways of getting her to do his bidding. Anne was a powerless woman in a man's world, and like so many women before and after her, she lost her battle.

We don't have Anne's own words, so we'll never know why she did the things she did. "Third" is only one take (and not necessarily all what I believe, but what worked best for the story). Everyone has a different take on Anne, and that's one reason history can be frustrating and why there's that time-travel fascination to find out the truth.

Yeah it's hard to say about historical figures unless you can sit them down and interview them...and not even they know why they did some things sometimes!

Many people, historical or not, have no effing idea why they do the things they do. I don't sometimes ;-)

*** The conversation ended here, but I want to say a few more things about Anne Boleyn. She may have been a [bleep]. Or not. Or somewhere in between. From "Third," I present Tudor historian Helen Franklin's basic theory: 
Helen's theory, or as she called it, her wishful thought, was that Anne was a lesbian trying to make her way in a ruthless, heterosexual world. Helen had shared this theory with no one except Yalia, long ago. She had no shred of proof to back up her theory. But one question Helen would never need to ask: Was Anne guilty of the charges the king brought against her?

Also, from Helen's book, here is the small biographical summary of Anne:

Anne Boleyn (?- executed 1536): Anne spent much of her adolescence at the court of the French king Francis I. She returned to the British court full of wit, grace and charm. She caught the eye of Henry Percy, and they secretly were engaged. Anne also became a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey found out about the secret engagement and forbade a marriage. Percy was exiled from court, and Anne's father, Thomas, forced her to focus on the king. Anne's sister, Mary, was the king's mistress, and Thomas Boleyn had learned a valuable lesson. Mary had given her body up too quickly. Thomas ordered Anne to flirt with the king, to toy with his emotions and nothing more. This worked like a charm for seven years, to the point where Henry VIII turned his back on the Catholic Church. Henry would never get free of Catherine if the church had a say in it, so he founded his own religion. He married Anne in the eyes of the Church of England. Anne was pregnant and gave birth to a girl, the future Elizabeth I. Henry was sorely disappointed but envisioned more pregnancies. They came, in the form of miscarriages. A frustrated Henry contrived a scheme accusing Anne of witchcraft, incest and adultery. Anne was beheaded in 1536, after a mere three years of marriage and shortly after her predecessor Catherine's death.


Destroyer of Worlds said...

Very nice! :) I hope we get other people to join in. I do most wholeheartedly agree that Henry's accusations against Anne was bogus. He completely passed all the blame for his own actions to her. One thing I've always wondered was just how complicit was Jane Seymour in dislodging Anne?
When Henry was married to Anne of Aragon, it was unthinkable that she could ever be displaced short of death. Then Anne and other people in her circle put the idea of divorcing Catherine in Henry's mind, it also helped that Henry had committed incest by marrying his brother's wife. So that idea grew and took ahold and Thomas Boleyn saw what all this would mean for his family and pursued it with all the resources he had, one of which being his daughter. I don't think he set out with the idea of displacing Catherine and installing his daughter as queen. He probably did hope for a longer run of influence through Mary being Henry's mistress. There is no evidence of Mary ever influencing Henry in anything. Plus Henry lost interest in her after she became pregnant, either by him or her husband, I'm not sure which.

Destroyer of Worlds said...

Anyway I think Anne was the one who learned from Mary's short tenure as Henry's mistress. She would have seen Mary's rise in favor then fading rapidly. She would have seen all the mistakes Mary made with the benefit that hindsight made. Also the whole thing about not giving up her body until she had an ring on her finger is very much a woman's sentiment. I don't think her dad would have had her go that far. He was a man and for him, Anne just had to make Henry fall for her and give him great sex. This was in a time before the official mistress position that women like Madame de pompadour were able to hold, overshadowing even the queen.

Destroyer of Worlds said...

Strangely enough, Anne's daughter, Elizabeth was able to use this same kind of hindsight to fuel her foresight, which she used often in her reign. Her not ever getting married was one of these things she learned from her father's many wives. So anyway when Anne achieved her goal, her victory was a double bladed sword because the impossible path she blazed on her way to becoming queen also allowed other people to follow her and do it more easily. The lessons Henry and his ministers learned from divorcing Catherine of Aragon and marrying Anne Boleyn was very easily turned against her when Jane seymour outsed her. It was jane's father who saw the potential and used Jane to achieve his goal. Becoming queen was never so easy.

Q. Kelly said...

Also the whole thing about not giving up her body until she had an ring on her finger is very much a woman's sentiment.

-- That whole seven-year no-sex thing is one reason I thought Anne was a great candidate for a lesbian.

I'm gonna pull out a few more excerpts from the book that address some of your comments. But, really, I think you just need to read the dang thing then we can really GO at it ;-)


Anne rescued her from having to talk. "I did a terrible thing. I know it. I played with a married man for years. I seduced him at last and got pregnant with his child. I caused irreparable grief to Catherine's heart. But you must understand I did not want to. My father made me. I hate reading the books and watching the movies and the television shows. They portray me to be a harlot and a schemer. I am not." Anne bit her lip. "That is not entirely true. I got caught up in my father's plots. How could I not? I had to survive somehow. I had to make my days mean something."

"Helen isn't accusing you of anything." Yalia made sure to keep her tones soothing.

"If I was the Anne Boleyn the media makes me out to be, I would have seduced Benjamin and Josiah."

"The media gets a shit ton wrong. Look, Anne. Helen's scared, that's all. Her words did not come out as she intended."

"She will see she has no need to be scared. I will not involve myself with you."


"Did your father have a say in when you would bed Henry?" Helen asked. "Or was the decision wholly yours?"

"Of course he had a say in the matter," Anne retorted. "A tremendous say. I was a puppet. My father knew the lusts of men, and he knew how long Henry was willing to wait. You know as well as I do, Lady Franklin, that being a woman in Tudor times was no better and no more powerful than being a dog."


"George was a good brother. My best friend. We, we..." Anne sighed. "My sister's child, Henry. He was not the king's. He looked like my sister's husband."

"Was it odd having the same man your sister bedded earlier?"

Anne shrugged. "A body is a body."

Destroyer of Worlds said...

Now to Jane...Jane is an odd one. She was the direct opposite of Anne in every way and Henry was sick of Anne when he met Jane. But Jane was dour and meek. As someone once said in her history blog, couldn't Jane have arranged her face in a more pleasing way in the months she was being painted? Did Jane really look that hatchet-faced all the time? I would have thought Henry would have been turned off, but then again he did reject Anne of Cleves who was the best looking of the bunch judging from her portrait. But I'm digressing. Ironically for the Seymour family, Henry had stopped taking the counsel of the women around him after Anne, so when Jane tried to intercede in politics, Henry basically told her to shut up and to know her place. The Seymour family only gained the power they wanted when they became Regents for jane and Henry's son.

Q. Kelly said...

One more excerpt! Then I'm stopping, because if I do more excerpts to address your comments, I might as well put the whole book in the comment box ;-)


Anne clutched one of her pillows to her chest. Her body had scared her, had terrified her, a few hours ago. She lusted so badly, so deeply, for Helen and Yalia. Not just lust. Anne's feelings ran more profoundly than lust, and that was why she had to remember to remain cautious. People had meddled in her affairs all her life, and who was to stop Helen and Yalia if they got a mind to intrude? If one day they rubbed the sand from their eyes and realized: Holy freaking cow, we have Anne Boleyn. Holy freaking cow! Why were Helen and Yalia treating her like a normal person?

Q. Kelly said...

Yes, you are so right Elizabeth learned from her mother's downfall and her father's other wives. She knew if she married, the power would go to her husband. (It kind of had to her half-sister, Mary.)

One reason in "Third" that Anne wanted to bring Mary back over Elizabeth was how Anne treated Mary, yes, BUT another reason is that Elizabeth had lived her life fully. She did not need another chapter to her life, but Mary's life had been basically futile like Anne's.

Q. Kelly said...

OK, you mentioned Jane, so I'm gonna bring out the biographical summary of her from Helen Franklin's book. Basically the summary leaves it open if Jane was involved in anything to oust Anne. I tend to believe that like with Anne, it was Jane's male relatives who forced her to do the things she did.


Jane Seymour (?-1537): Jane caught King Henry VIII's eye as his marriage to Anne declined. He moved Jane into service to Anne so he could be near her. How Jane truly felt about Henry's machinations is unknown. Not even a day after Anne Boleyn's execution, Jane and Henry were officially engaged. They married soon after, and then Henry's sole surviving son, the illegitimate seventeen-year-old Duke of Richmond, died. Fortunately, Jane gave birth to a boy, the future Edward VI. Not as fortunately, Jane died two weeks later from childbirth

Q. Kelly said...

Oops, left a word off the above comment.

..... complications.

Q. Kelly said...

You know, I think you may be the only person I have met with whom I could discuss the Tudors for two weeks straight and still have two weeks' worth left to discuss. I love it! ;-)

Destroyer of Worlds said...

I like your excerpt :) though I don't think Thomas Seymour would have known when the best time to allow Henry into Anne's bed or vice Versa because he wasnt around Henry as much as Anne was. He probably would have put his mark of approval on Anne going publicly to France with Henry, and it was there that they did sleep together and Anne got pregnant. But it was still a bad time. Henry was still in the process of divorcing Catherine if I remember right. So everyone had to rush everything and Henry decided to just break with the church completely, marry Anne, crown her and do it all before her baby was born. I'm guessing that in the midst of the usual flirting Anne was doing, Henry told her it was now or never, or even that his eye started to wander and an alarmed Anne let him in at last. 7 years is a very long time for a man to go without the object of his desire, much less a man of the 1500s like Henry, even less a king used to getting what he wants. I do like the idea that Anne saw the 7 years as a relief from the pawings of men! :) is there even evidence that Anne was a virgin or did she consummate one or both of her engagements? Hmm...

Q. Kelly said...

Believe it or not, the book also addresses Henry Percy (Anne's first engagement) and the France visit. Aw, what the heck. I'll excerpt the French visit part too. I'll make ya wait to read the Henry Percy part. And all the other parts! Shhhhh, just read the book ;-) My point basically is that people believe different things about Anne, but we will never know for 100 percent sure who is right. That's one of the joys of writing historical fiction.


Yalia thought a second. "Why did you finally give in and have sex with Henry?" she asked. "What was the trigger?"

"The time had come," Anne said simply.

"But why?" Helen asked. "Why was it time?"

"Like your book said, I had reached more prominence during the French visit. The nobility was more tolerant of me. Henry was getting too frustrated that the pope was not granting his divorce."

Destroyer of Worlds said...

Ha, I would think queen Elizabeth would differ with that decision! It was well known that near the end of her life she didn't want to die. She didn't want her star to set. She refused to close her eyes at the end, I think. But yeah Mary was given the shaft in her unfufilled life.

As for your other excerpt (dang, you found me out! I wanted you to put the whole book in your blog! Heh!) did Anne know she was a lesbian before meeting Helen and yalia? That's one thing I e wondered about...I'm straight so I don't really know for sure, but there has to be many women in past eras where lesbianism was unheard of and nonexistent, who were lesbians and how did they deal with it? Did they understand what their feelings meant? We're their love for other women entirely platonic or did they understand that they could have sex like they do with men?

Destroyer of Worlds said...

Heh ok I'll stop now :) but thanks for your excerpts and explanations!

Q. Kelly said...

Anne knew in Tudor times she was attracted to women (especially from her time at the court of the French king Francis I. His court was, ah...shall we say, sexually open).

I could trot out five excerpts on this, but you'll just have to wait to finish your library books and start "Third." :-P

Q. Kelly said...

Oh, and as for this:

Who were lesbians and how did they deal with it? Did they understand what their feelings meant? We're their love for other women entirely platonic or did they understand that they could have sex like they do with men?

** It probably depends on the individual women and their individual situations. Many people in Tudor England definitely knew what homosexuality was.

There still seem to be women in this time who don't realize until later in their lives that they're attracted to women primarily. It's a very individual experience.