This story sweeps you off your feet and takes you back nearly 500 years to the Court of King Henry VIII. It's difficult to put down from the first page, when young Mary Boleyn, in 1521, witnesses her uncle being beheaded at the result of the King's order. Soon thereafter, the King takes a liking to the 14 year old Mary, who waits on his wife, Queen Katherine. The story is told through Mary's eyes and covers a range of 15 years. Mary is in awe of Katherine and her ability to remain majestic throughout Mary's relationship with her husband, much of the courtship taking place right before the queen's eyes. Mary eventually gives birth to two of his children, out of wedlock, but then he tires of her. Her family, the Boleyn's, of the Howard line, are incessant in their conniving to get either Mary or her sister Anne as high up as they can in court. To get one of them wed to the king is their prime prize. When the king tires of Mary, they conspire to have Anne win his heart. Anne dazzles him and connives to get his attention. She manages to keep his attention and interest long enough for him to pass a law that voids his marriage to Queen Katherine, who had been born a princess of Spain, a descendent of Queen Isabella.
Once that is complete and he moves her out of court, he marries Anne Boleyn. Anne is unable to give him a baby boy, which he desperately wants as his heir to the throne, so he becomes less and less enamored with her. Anne, who is a self-centered, conniving person, becomes a demanding and unrelenting wife to him. Because he is spoiled and concerned only with his own desires, he eventually falls for another one of the maids in court, and he has Anne beheaded on grounds of adultery, which may or may not have been true. Mary, who is telling the story, had since married a local farmer, and escapes from the court, unable to stop the beheading. This story lures you into the past and makes you want to reach for more.