Book review: 'Tarnish' a literary treat

Published: Monday, Oct. 5 2015 7:40 a.m. MDT

"Tarnish" by Katherine Longshore is a historical novel about Anne Boleyn. (Penguin Young Readers Group)

Editor's note: This is one of a half dozen books that explores the lives of different figures in British royal history, including several set in the court of Henry VIII.

"TARNISH," by Katherine Longshore, Viking, $17.99, 436 pages (f)

All Anne Boleyn wants is to be herself, owned by no one and respected for her mind and her words.

In a world and time ruled by men, the only thing that will get her anywhere in life is a good husband — a man who can elevate her status.

But, as Katherine Longshore's historical novel "Tarnish" relates, Anne has already been exiled from the courts once, sent away by her father after she threw herself at the king. This is her second chance to bring honor to the Boleyn family name, but she isn't making a good impression. Anne isn't the type to say what people want to hear; she says what's on her mind — and it's getting her into trouble.

Until she meets Thomas Wyatt, a handsome poet with a silver tongue and a reputation as being popular with the ladies. He promises to help her become the darling of the court and land another husband — one better than the bear of a man her father has lined up for her.

Soon Wyatt not only becomes her only true friend, but Anne isn't sure that the lovers act they are putting on is an act anymore. And Anne's deep obsession with the king is only getting deeper.

Longshore takes readers back in time, creating a magnificent and complex story of love and life from historical facts and details about King Henry's court. Her descriptions and writing talent create not only vivid imagery for the reader but also make "Tarnish" a literary treat.

Readers who enjoy a strong heroine will not be disappointed with Longshore's depiction of Anne Boleyn. Anne's wit and inability to keep her opinions to herself, even in the face of her superiors, make this story a satisfying read.

Longshore says she does her best to stay as true to history as possible, so the outcome of the story may be predictable — but the journey readers take through the pages of "Tarnish" has enough twists that will keep readers hoping and wondering about an alternative.

"Tarnish" uses a handful of swear words, including strong language, and has several sexual innuendos.

Hikari Loftus is a graduate of the University of Utah.

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