"A Shining Example of Proto-Feminist Historical Fiction: A Review of 'Le Temps Viendra: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Vol I)' by Dr. Sarah Morris" -- by Darcy R. Keim, MA

"A Shining Example of Proto-Feminist Historical Fiction: A Review of 'Le Temps Viendra: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Vol I)' by Dr. Sarah Morris" -- by Darcy R. Keim, MA

by Darcy R. Keim, MA

Image from TheTudorTravelGuide.com

The year is 2016, and whilst researching for, as well as writing my undergraduate dissertation on the proto-feminist representations of Anne Boleyn (x), I found myself thoroughly devouring the first book in a coupling known as Le Temps Viendra: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (2012/2013). These two novels (a creative and unique portrayal of Anne's life from her high-stakes romance with Henry VIII in 1527 to her untimely and violent death in 1536) was authored by the pioneering Dr. Sarah Morris -- a Tudor historian who seeks to unravel the period in both a scholarly and accessible fashion. 

Le Temps Viendra: Vol I follows the story of twenty-first century, blonde-haired Anne; whose obsession with her historical counterpart, Anne Boleyn, leads her to booking a special-day at Hever Castle. After suffering a startling, mind-splitting headache, she finds herself stumbling into an alcove in the Long Gallery and from there, being transported back in time into the body of her namesake and idol: Anne Boleyn. From this point onward, she walks the line and life of Anne -- beginning with receiving a secret marriage proposal from the King (Henry VIII) and entering the deadly labyrinth of court life. The rest, as one may ascertain in the old cliché, is history. 

However, for this review, the focus is specifically on the immersive experience of the audiobook. As someone who has read their physical copy beyond measure, I was unprepared for what I was to take away from the audiobook edition. Would it distract from the overall adventure of the narrative? Dear reader, I am thankful to emphasize that this is nowhere near the case. Not at all do you feel disinclined to listen to the story -- the production is superb, the narration (by the author herself) is vibrant, emotive, and full of life. At the risk of flowery prose on my part, the profound manner of performance in the audio-edition takes you by the hand and hauls you back five-hundred years; as the story does too to its very own protagonist. Dr. Morris has crafted a lyrical, almost poetic, retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn. 

A considerably distinctive facet to the storytelling is the embroidering of fact-into-fiction. It is clear that as a long-term researcher of this period, Dr. Morris imparts and weaves her studies into the narration -- laying out historical "Easter Eggs" for those wishing to pursue certain subject-matters (for example, Anne Boleyn's gifting of the miniature jeweled ship laced with a single drop pearl to Henry VIII in the initial chapters). This is achieved by the reader viewing the events unfolding through present-day Anne's eyes as she inhabits Anne Boleyn's body. We see her trying to recapture what she already knows of Anne's life at certain moments; whilst influenced by Anne Boleyn's own perspective on each matter. An additional component to this is the intricate and meticulous details to sixteenth-century life that Dr. Morris provides. This is exemplified by the particulars of Early Modern clothing (and how to wear them); as well as the rules of engagement and interaction; or the very characteristics of a room that ensure that the past is tangible to the reader. These facets demonstrate not only a commitment to evoking the life of Anne Boleyn, but demonstrate years of study that enlighten the text. 

It may be comfortably asserted that this book is a progressive work of fiction within [the] overall historiography of Anne Boleyn. Anne, herself, is an enigma within [the] primary sources. Nevertheless, what Le Temps Viendra does happens to echo Eric Ives' The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn (1986); as well as the controversial (yet potentially pivotal) The Creation of Anne Boleyn (2013) by cultural historian, Susan Bordo. It also aids in dismantling other contemporary texts like Paul Friedmann's biography, Anne Boleyn (1884) and George Bernard's, Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions (2010). The 'Anne Boleyn' featured in Morris' work is undoubtedly proto-feminist in nature. She is coquettish, sexy, and alluring -- whilst also being cunning, sharp, and intelligent. This version of 'Anne Boleyn' takes that balance between being "shrewd" and oozing magnetism, and is transformed into a highly nuanced figure; entirely human in her approach to the situations she finds herself placed in. 

This audiobook is an enthralling, thrilling delight from beginning to end. It is not merely one for historical fiction enthusiasts alone -- it is a solid adventure for anyone and everyone who seeks to escape into a different world; a world of court intrigue, of romance, of introspection, and a wild dance towing the line between living and falling from grace.

Therefore, I recommend this novel and its audiobook to you, reader. The links for which can be found underneath this paragraph. I will sign off by stating that this novel is a sheer comfort read for myself, and for others whom I have encountered in the 'Circle. For that, it is important to stress that a book such as this makes excellent company -- not once, nor simply twice, but many times over. 

Audible UK: Le Temps Viendra: A Novel of Anne Boleyn -- Vol I (Audiobook)
Amazon UK: Le Temps Viendra: A Novel of Anne Boleyn -- Vol I (E-Book/Physical Book)
Amazon UK: Le Temps Viendra: A Novel of Anne Boleyn -- Vol II (E-Book/Physical Book)

Dr. Sarah Morris -- Twitter: @TheTTGuide


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