Once again, in 2011, we had Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn, this time from the perspective of Anne’s close friend Meg Wyatt. Sandra Byrd‘s novel, To Die For, is about both Anne and Meg, with the latter as narrator—and, I might add, nonsupporter of Katherine of Aragon.
Meg accepts Anne’s marriage to Henry but has vexing difficulties regarding marriage for herself. The man she loves joins the priesthood and Meg blames God, implacably rebelling against Him. She is also a mistreated woman, but as Anne Boleyn tells her, “You blame God for the deeds of men, I blame the men themselves.” In the middle of the novel, Meg repents and becomes a genuine Christian. She starts giving more attention to Anne, who needs it, and less to herself.
Now, in the 1530s, Protestantism lives, and Byrd does a good job of depicting an England where, as Byrd herself puts it, “God was now on His way to being at home in both the cathedral and the croft” (although I happen to believe it was actually that way before the Reformation). Byrd is more of a craftsman than an artist. Although her prose is not quite perfect, she does know how to write. Hers is a Christian vision, and she can make both Young Adult novels and period novels engaging. She has done so with To Die For.