“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”. Well, these are the lyrics to a ditty that kept humming through my head from my Jr. High 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 element 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 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.