Sandra Byrd is an accomplished writer of historical fiction, and this novel based on the life of Anne Boleyn and her friend and confidant, Meg Wyatt, is a fine example of that polished writing excellence. How deep is your friendship with your closest friend? Would you walk with her (or him) through high places and danger, through life and the path to death? Meg chose to remain Anne Boleyn's friend even when her friend made terrible choices. Many people make unwise choices, and Anne's choice to become Henry VIII's second wife was one of those. Carried away by King Henry's charm and believing his lies about his first wife, Anne Boleyn waits for Henry's machinations to put his first wife aside to become complete. They marry, and Anne becomes the queen. As the queen's closest friend and confidant, Meg's star rises with Anne's and crashes as Henry becomes discontent with his beautiful wife's inability to give him an heir. Meg prays for her, rejoices with her, and despairs for her, as a true friend should always strive to do. So many of us give up on friends as they disappoint us--but Meg didn't desert her even when Anne treated her with disrespect. Anne Boleyn's story has always fascinated me, and it's been so fun to learn more about her and become acquainted with Meg Wyatt, the friend who continued to succor her doomed companion all the way to the tragic finale. Thank you, Sandra, for a heart-wrenching and -warming historical fiction with amazing attention to details of history during that period of the Tudor reign.
I love anything by Sandra Byrd. I love her writing and her thought process. This book was not so much about Anne Boylen, but about her best friend Meg Wyatt which I thought was a wonderful twist. I loved the interaction between the two friends, there was peace and war with them which I think is very realistic given the setting of HenryVIII court. The only complaint that I have is that I couldn't find God or Jesus or any mention of faith. If there was I didn't see it, and I keep looking. But it was a well researched, well written book and I don't think that you will be dissapointed.
I have heard so many beautiful things about this book, I knew that I had to read it. To Die For is in my mind the perfect Historical novel. Rich in detail, and characters, this book was nearly impossible to put down yet at the same time I want to just sit back and enjoy it.
Meg Wyatt is the faithful friend to Anne Boleyn, the 2nd wife of Henry VIII, and the mother of one of England's most memorable monarchs, Queen Elizabeth. To Die For chronicles the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn to power and back down again.
Many books fiction and non-fiction alike both like to paint Anne as evil or as a witch, so I was glad to find a book that portrayed her more realistically. The historical accuracy and believability was spot on for me, it read like a novel, yet I learned things at the same time :)
Meg was a very easy to relate to character that I quickly connected with. I experience what it was like to be in the court of Henry VIII all through the pages of this book. It was an absolute pleasure to read!
One of my favorite Christian heroes has always been William Tyndale, and I was happy that his work was not ignored, in fact, the effect of that his explosive translation of the New Testament had on the Christian world.
Overall this is a book I would highly recommend to lovers of Christian Fiction, and Historical Fiction, or anyone who loves a well woven story. As I read it quickly became a favorite and is probably one of the best books I've read this year. This book is a MUST READ!
5 stars~ Every so often a book is written that completely overcomes all expectations you have for a genre. To Die For by Sandra Byrd is that novel. Not only does it bring to the forefront issues of faith but loyalty and the importance of sisterly affection between friends in a way that males you forget you're reading fiction. Fans of Tudor England and the life of Anne Boleyn will love this story regardless if they like Christian fiction or not. Byrd deftly ties in the faith of the characters with the historical goings on of the Church of England in the 16th century.
This isn't the first time that I've read a story of the Boleyn family but it is by far one of the best. To Die For involves Meg Wyatt, Anne's friend from childhood and follows her life and Anne's life as their stars rise at Court and through Anne's demise. The entire story took only a day to get through because I so wanted to know what happened to Meg. We all know how Anne's story ended but between her birth and untimely death there is a lot speculation on who she really was. Ms. Byrd did an excellent job making Anne as a woman relatable, Anne as a friend realistic and Anne as a queen unshakable and Meg a friend in and lady in the truest sense. I think she did both of the ladies justice.
If you want to read story that blends fact and fiction seamlessly, read this. If you want to read a story of the power of friendship, read this. If you want to be thoroughly entertained and strengthen your faith at the same time then by all means read this book! If you don't believe me, as of 9/16/11 every single review on Amazon is 4 stars and above and for good reason.
*I received my complimentary copy courtesy of the author and publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*
Before I launch into this book review, I need to go ahead and admit that with my limited writing abilities, there is no way I will be able to do this book justice. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like this story or not, but there were two reasons I wanted to read it. First of all, I love Sandra Byrd’s books. I read her entire French Twist series and it has remained one of my favorite fiction series. Also, I wanted to read this book because my roots go back to northern England. In fact my dad was born in Hexham, so my interest in the history of this part of the world is pretty high. I have never known much about Anne Boleyn or Henry VIII, just the basics of what history tells us. I was interested to read a novel about Anne Boleyn written by someone who actually took her time to thoroughly research these people, places and the time period. So, I opened To Die For and found myself swept into a world and story far beyond my wildest expectations.
I started reading this book like I do any other book, but soon found that I was reading a story that I fell in love with. There were so many factors that caused me to have such strong feelings about this book. For one thing, Sandra’s writing was absolutely flawless. She did something that few authors, in my humble opinion, can do. She used authentic language to the place and time when the characters were speaking without slowing the story down. I usually find that to be a distraction, bordering on a pet peeve when I’m reading a book, but Sandra managed to make it work flawlessly and the book moved at an even pace and remained authentic.
The story was incredible as well. The loved the strong bond between Anne and her best friend Meg. It was refreshing to see that despite Anne’s rise to becoming Queen of England, she remained true to her friend and her friend remained true to her right up until the end. We all know how this story ends, but there were still some nice surprises that helped this book come full circle to a satisfying ending. I don’t know exactly what all was fact and what all was fiction, but I just loved the story too much to get hung up on the details. There is an intensity to this story that builds steadily throughout and makes this book so engaging and hard to put down.
What else can I say about a book that was everything good literature should be, and then some? To Die For is one of those books that stays with me, even now, a few days after finishing it. I would like to read it again someday because I’m sure there are some details I missed on the first read. But, until then, I will simply cherish this book as much as I cherished it while I read it. I can’t recommend this book strongly enough. It is going on my short list of all-time favorite books. Thank you Sandra for telling Anne’s story. Any reader will see that this book was truly a labor of love and should be savored and cherished.
I've been a fan of Sandra Byrd's for a number of years now but wasn't sure what to think about another treatment of Anne Boleyn. Still, if Sandra wrote it, I wanted to check it out.
SO glad I did.
The book came at the perfect time, when I needed a story to take me away to another time and place. Meg and Anne and I navigated through the intrigue of Tudor courts together. Sandra wove in such interesting historical tidbits that it just came alive... (And is the main reason I want to re-read it. I raced through, trying to finish the actual STORY of it, though we all know how it ends for Anne.) It's just that good!
I thoroughly enjoyed this rendition of what Anne Boleyn's life may have looked like during the time when Henry VIII reigned in English history. His loyalties suited himself, and I saw that coming even though I already knew how things would turn out.
Henry VIII did present in many ways as a narcissist and that was portrayed well in this novel. He was convincing when it suited him, though, and I loved how the author showed how sincerely he believed his own lies. In the end he only hurt himself by his fickleness regarding the many women he knew intimately. I felt a bit sorry for all of the women he used, for they truly had no real choice in the matter.
I appreciated the author's explanation at the end regarding historical details and how she made some small changes to make the story work for the reader. I was a bit grossed out at the end (the beheading part) but I suppose if her friend had been there and witnessed it the recollection of that would have been frightening and gross, so I dealt with it. I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to gruesome descriptions.
Regarding Meg's love story that paralleled Anne's experience... I was enthralled. I felt all of the ups and downs in that relationship and grieved with Meg over some losses she'd experienced. The romantic elements in her story were compelling and those kisses were heated enough to make the reader experience her loss with an even sharper pain, and then rejoice with her when things turned around. I have to say that I appreciated how Meg's faithfulness to her friend Anne Boleyn was rewarded in the end with something she had always wanted but denied herself for a greater cause.
This novel was all that I'd hoped for and I highly recommend it. It's a thoroughly engaging story and very well written. The faith element and the historical information regarding Tyndale and Wycliff's writing made the story richer. I feel truly sorry for all of the people unjustly killed throughout history because of a lust for power and control from noblemen and kings alike. What frightening times those were as the wind shifted so quickly and so often that many people were destined to be caught up in the injustice of it all. I'm glad I didn't live back then.
“Hank the V-I-I-I put poor Katie by and married young Ann Boleyn who tried to please but she soon went wrong by singing her song all out of key, it was his masterpiece.” These are the lyrics to a ditty that kept humming through my head from my Jr. High choir concert in 8th grade as I read this story about the ill-fated 2nd wife of King Henry the VIII. Admittedly the lyrics from this song were a bit on the corny side, with some “ hey nonny, nonny” type lines thrown in for good measure, but I assure you nothing about this book “To Die For” by Sandra Byrd was corny, but beautifully written from a new point of view. That would be from the point of view of Anne’s long time best friend, Meg Wyatt, as she is by Anne’s side while they are teens with crushes on boys all the way to the royal court and becoming her wardrobe mistress, watching Anne become a queen, and staying loyally by her side until her unfortunate death.
This story was beautifully woven together with wonderful intricacy in keeping the historical life of Anne Boleyn intact, while adding the wonderful fictional elements of the girl’s friendship as well. The English Reformation elements to the novel were very well done and interesting to read as Sandra Byrd’s comments about the strength of Henry and how “God often uses the strongest beast, not the gentlest to plow the hardest fields” and how “what might have been intended for selfishness or evil and certainly did cause pain to those involved, eventually yielded a harvest of goodness.” These comments were taken from the Authors Q&A found at the back of the book and so very well said. I highly recommend the reader takes the time to read that section- so informative and interesting to read. One can shake their head at Henry and his utter selfishness, or see that good was accomplished in the middle of all the pain that transpired.
The character of Meg Wyatt is one to be admired for sure in her dedication to Anne Boleyn as a true and faithful friend. That’s not to say that she is not without her challenges and wrong turns here and there. Her life is not an easy one with an abusive father, a vindictive brother and at the outset of the novel, she finds out that the man she loves has chosen the route of becoming a priest. But even in the midst of all of her trials, she becomes a character that you are rooting for and one who is selfless until the very end, a tried and true friend. Since the story is told from Meg’s point of view, you really are hoping that all will be well for her in the end which makes the story so enchanting, because you obviously know what Anne’s fate will be, but with Meg being the heroine of the story it gives the tale a newness and intelligence that I fell in love with.
If you are a fan of “Tudor England” I have no doubt that you will truly enjoy this book. It was very well told and an engaging story that historical buff or not, I sincerely believe all would appreciate the writing, characters, and fascinating storyline presented in To Die For. Sandra Byrd has written many great YA fiction books that my daughters have thoroughly enjoyed in the past. It is a wonderful thing that we can now all share Sandra Byrd as an author whose work, we all have read and loved. 5 stars.
I graciously received a free copy of this book for review purposes from the publishing company. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Once in awhile a historical novel comes along that makes me wonder why I bother writing in this genre—it’s that good. TO DIE FOR, set in the insanity of Henry VIII’s court, is such a book. Briefly, it tells the story of Meg Wyatt, unwilling pawn of her male relations and in love with a man she cannot have. While serving as dear friend Anne Boleyn’s maid of honor, Meg is challenged reinvent her faith. Are there matters of the heart worth dying for? What of the spirit?
Ms. Byrd creates a steady-handed portrait of life in the early 16th century. In showing this age of transition between traditional Catholic Christianity and a more Scripturally based faith, she never sets a foot wrong. She neither assumes the reader knows all about the period’s history (thus skipping rich detail) nor overloads the reader with background or jargon. The dialogue reads true to its time and runs close enough to 21st century language to be easily understood. She allows Meg to tell her own story in first person, giving the world of Queen Anne’s rise and ultimate fall a refreshing immediacy.
Faultlessly told, well-researched and engagingly written, TO DIE FOR is a tale for historical romance lovers and newcomers alike.
Deborah Kinnard SEASONS IN THE MIST, Winner, 2010 Grace Award
“There are many ways to arrive at the Tower of London, though there are few ways out. Kings and queens ride in before a coronation, retinue trailing like a train of ermine. Prisoners, however, arrive on foot, shoved through one cavernous gate or another by the wardens, who live, as all do, at the mercy of a merciless king. Some unfortunate few are delivered to the Tower by water.” (To Die For, pg. 1)
So begins one of the best books I have read in a long while. From the very first page I found myself enthralled and can honestly say I have not so thoroughly enjoyed a book in quite some time.
To Die For is the story of Meg Wyatt; trusted confidante and childhood friend to the infamous Anne Boleyn. As Anne rises to power, she makes Meg the mistress of her wardrobe. However, Meg is about to be charged with caring for far more than just clothes: she may become the caretaker of Anne’s very life. In the cruel and fickle court of King Henry the VIII, Meg soon learns the cost of loyalty may come at a higher price than anyone ever imagined.
Add to that an impossible romance fraught with rich but unloved suitors, and you have on your hands a terrific story.
Byrd does an excellent job of capturing the culture, and from the moment I started reading I felt thrust back into sixteenth century times. I was so completely transported to another time and place, I felt as if it were a play being performed in front of me rather than just words on a page.
The story immediately fascinated me, and I found myself impatient only on one point, and that was while waiting for Anne to be crowned. Full of court intrigue, forbidden love, betrayal, and tragedy, there was hardly a moment when my attention was at liberty to wander.
The characters were at once noble and likeable, but were also realistic people with flaws. I found myself asking: would I have been like Meg? Would I have had the courage to make the same choice she did, or would I have chosen the less honorable route?
While it was a very entertaining read, it was also a meaningful one and had me pondering such thought-provoking questions as: how much would I give up for a friend? Do I serve God, or myself? And if a king is God’s anointed, how far should one go in obeying that king if he is evil?
I also really enjoyed seeing through Meg’s eyes as the Holy Writ was translated into English and became available for the first time for the every-day man to read. I applaud Byrd’s historical accuracy for adding this element in when it was so clearly an important new development at the time.
To Die For was truly a delightful read, and one of my favorites. I was immensely satisfied with the reading, and even more so with the ending.
Be advised, though: there are some sexual references and a gruesome beheading.
The richness of the themes and characters in this book could easily rival that of Tudor times itself. As a girl who loves her “Big Dresses Books,” take it from me when I say To Die For is one “Big Dress Book” you won’t want to miss.
“You have lived a good life, my dearest, loveliest friend. You have born the weight of England’s Reformation on your shoulders. You have used your influence to place men who stand solely on Scripture”-I looked at her almoner-“throughout the Church of England and they will stand, and lead others, long after you are gone. You have borne a good daughter. You have been a most excellent wife and loyal friend. The rest is now to faith.” -Meg Wyatt, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
I love to read. My mom taught me how to read before I ever entered kindergarten. It has been one of the greatest gifts she has given me. The test of a good book for me is when I am finished, it is bittersweet. Bitter because it is over, but sweet because I got to experience the journey and be a part of the story for just a little bit. For me, To Die For: A Novel of Ann Boleyn, found that bittersweet quality, but in a totally different way. It was sweet because I got to experience the journey. Granted it is a fictional rendering of actual events in history, but still I got to experience the lives of those included during the events surrounding the lives of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. It may also be bitter because it had to end; a novel always does. But it is just a temporary ending, for I know one day the story will continue, only in Heaven, and I and many others will be present, including the late Anne Boleyn.
For a long time, the opinion I held of Anne Boleyn was unfavorable, due to my limited knowledge. She even aggravated me a little throughout the book. But now, that is all changed. Told by her closest friend, Meg Wyatt, To Die For chronicles, in fiction form the pursuit of Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII. This pursuit, as history so clearly states, ultimately results in Anne’s demise. Most powerfully along the way, we are drawn into the Protestant Reformation and its withdrawal from the Roman Catholic Church as authority on all matters related to the Church. Tucked in the story of marriage, reformation, and death, is the forbidden romance of Meg Wyatt and Will Ogilvy, called to be a priest, focused on reform in the church, the scriptures being made available to be read by all.
I truly enjoyed this book. Sandra Byrd’s extensive research on Anne Boleyn is evident in this fictionalized account of her life, marriage, and all those involved in the events of the royal court during the time of Henry VIII. The hand of God is revealed so beautifully by Byrd as she brings to light the role that Anne Boleyn’s life played in the reform. Although the author states that most of the story related to Meg, our storyteller, is fiction, her character is compelling. She has many endearing qualities which keeps the reader cheering for her until the very end.
When I read a book that moves me, I always want more, which prompts further research on my part, to separate the fact from fiction. This is another one of those books! The student of history will enjoy this book. Women who enjoy romance will not be disappointed. Lovers of historical fiction will be overwhelmed. I recommend it to all who wish to learn about an extremely pivotal point in the history of the Church. I hope your heart is touched and your perspective of events in history refreshed. Many blessings as you read!
Disclosure: I received this book free of charge from the publisher. I was not required to give a favorable review. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
Sandra Byrd has been on my favorite authors list since I read her first adult novel back in 2008--Let Them Eat Cake. Ever since then, her books have become ones that I pick up immediately without a second thought because I know they will be that good. To Die For was no exception, and now that Sandra has made this transition into the world of Christian historical fiction, I have no idea how she'll ever be able to choose between writing it or contemporary fiction in the future!
So, with all that said, let me just tell you how exquisite this book was! Breathtaking, majestic, heartbreaking, and anguishing...all of those words poured into my mind as I read the glorious, but tragic, story of Anne Boleyn. Only this wasn't a story just about Anne and her love for Henry VIII; it also included Anne's faithful childhood friend, Meg Wyatt. Truly, until this book, I had never heard anything about Meg Wyatt, and I can't remember when I last read a book that showed what true loyalty and constant friendship is all about. Meg had so many opportunities to leave the court life, to withdraw as one of Anne's ladies-in-waiting, but she remained faithful to her call to serve until the very end. I pitied her unfortunate relationships with her father and brother, but her circumstances were true to the time period. Women had nothing back then, unless it was provided through a man, and were extremely restricted in the decisions they made, particularly in regards to marriage. How glad I am that society has progressed since then--I am far too strong-willed to have survived!
This novel was written so masterfully that I can’t count the number of times I had to look at the front cover to be sure that I was actually reading a book by Sandra! She grasped the Tudor period and its customs so well that I felt fully immersed its culture. The language of that time was so eloquent and proper that people didn’t spout off the first thing that came to their mind. It was a time where words had the power to sentence a man to death, so one had to be extra careful of what was spoken and how it could potentially be interpreted. Also, the descriptions of the food and clothing were enough to make me drool! Multiple-course feasts, hundreds of castles and palaces, and dresses with golden threads woven through the cloth portrayed the extreme wealth and grandeur of the King of England and his courtiers. Sandra skillfully captured every aspect of this grand era in such a way that I felt like a part of the story. That, my friends, makes her one talented author. :o)
I haven't the slightest clue what Sandra has up her sleeve for her next novel, but I know one thing...it can't get here quick enough! For those (like me) who can't get enough of Tudor history, England, or The Royals in general, this stunning book would make an excellent addition to your reading fare, and I guarantee you won't be disappointed. To Die For was one of the best novels I've had the pleasure of reading all year, and has earned a well-deserved place on my keeper shelf. Highly Recommended!