To Die For

Written by Sandra Byrd
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

Sandra Byrd explores the familiar story of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, infamous second wife of Henry VIII, in her new novel, To Die For. Told from the point of view of Anne’s friend, Meg, sister of the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, the story begins when Meg and Anne are girls playing together, declaring their friendship in a sort of “best-friends-forever” sort of way.

Meg is also friends with Will Ogilvy, who understands her brutal home situation and becomes her love interest. In the meantime, Anne’s star has begun to rise, and soon Meg finds herself summoned to court to serve the new queen as she begins her reign. Neither of them can foresee the dark turn of events the future holds. Amid the danger and intrigue of the court, Meg rediscovers her faith in God, a faith she lost when she lost Will to the priesthood. As the danger to Anne and her friends grows, Meg must decide if she will honor her pledge to stand by Anne’s side, no matter what.

Byrd evokes the rich feel of Tudor life through detailed and accurate descriptions. However, her use of antiquated language in the first person narrative detracts rather than adds to the sense of authenticity.