To Die For, Sandra Byrd
I was honored to receive this novel for an early review and to participate in the author's virtual book tour (details here). Sandra Byrd has written an interesting story about the life of Meg Wyatt, sister of Thomas Wyatt and close friend to Anne Boleyn.
Having read novels covering the tumultuous years of the Tudors it is always refreshing to read a novel that comes from the view point of a person that is little known to history, thus giving an old story new life. That is the case with Ms. Byrd's newest work. In To Die For the author follows the life of Margaret Wyatt, a person rarely mentioned in Tudor novels. The Boleyns and the Wyatts grew up "next door" to each other and Anne and Meg became very close friends. Meg watched Anne's fabulous rise to power and her ultimate downfall all the while having to navigate the tricky and devious ways of the Tudor Court in order to survive.
I found the book an interesting read, though not a very in depth or heavy book. As I have read countless novels covering all aspects of this time period there weren't any new historical details introduced to me but Ms Byrd did a good job of not butchering history either. However, I think this novel's strength is in showing the reader what life was really like for a courtier in Henry VIII's court - and it wasn't always pleasant. Meg has to constantly watch her step as everyone was out for personal gain and would do anything to achieve more power or money or position. I liked Meg's character as she actually had personality; she was a true and faithful friend, a strong woman, and selfless. She had to overcome quite a bit throughout the course of the story - an abusive father, a very vindictive brother, the loss of her true love to the priesthood, and the eventual loss of her friend - but these trials really helped shape her into a strong and honorable woman who I was rooting for throughout. The author's characterization of other players in this novel were wonderful as well; I honestly felt my skin crawl every time Simon or Meg's brother appeared on the page. The writing is just very well done and will carry the reader along. Ms. Byrd's wonderful details of meals and fashion and the palaces will really immerse the reader in the time period, which to me is a sign of an author who has done their homework. She blends fact and fiction together beautifully and I never had a moment where I thought something that was spoken or described seemed untrue to the times.
I can easily recommend this novel to lovers of the Tudor time period. It would be an easy and informative read for anyone just beginning to delve into the intricacies of the period. Ms. Byrd's writing is easy to read and her details and historical information will not bog a reader down.