Tuesday, 3 September 2019

La Petite Boulain by Gemma Lawrence

La Petite Boulain (Above all Others; The Lady Anne Book 1) by Gemma Lawrence
Self published in the UK in March 2016.

Included in my Vegan Bookshop and one of my Ko-Fi Friday Reads

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook via Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

May 1536, London... a fallen queen sits waiting in the Tower of London, condemned to death by her husband. As Death looms before her, Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII looks back on her life...from the very beginning.
Daughter of a courtier, servant to queens... she rose higher than any thought possible, and fell lower than any could imagine.

Following the path of the young Mistress Boleyn, or La Petite Boulain, through the events of the first years of the reign of Henry VIII, to the glittering courts of Burgundy and France, Book One of "Above All Others; The Lady Anne" tracks the life of the young Lady Anne, showing how she became the scintillating woman who eventually, would capture the heart of a king.

La Petite Boulain is the first book in the series "Above All Others; The Lady Anne" on the life of Anne Boleyn by G.Lawrence.

Henry VIII might well be the most written about of English kings so I was already well aware of Anne Boleyn's story once their lives became entwined, however I hardly knew anything about Anne's life prior to Henry. In La Petite Boulain, Lawrence has created a compelling tale of a young woman growing up in Tudor England and then coming of age in the courts of Queen Marguerite of Austria at Mechelen and Queen Claude of France. I loved Lawrence's detailed depictions of momentous events such as Henry and Katherine's procession through London which child Anne witnesses from a balcony. I could feel her childish excitement at the scenes and this is later contrasted with her awe at the Field Of Gold, no less spectacularly described, but obviously now seen through a woman's eyes rather than a child's.

Lawrence is clearly an expert on this era of European history and I was fascinated to learn about both Marguerite and Claude. Meeting them through fiction allows them to shine as women as well as historical figures. The intricate etiquette of court life sounds a nightmare to navigate successfully, especially for an unwary novice although, of course, Anne was already well schooled in her destiny before being sent forth into this rarefied world. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised at how little choice women had over the major decisions in their lives, but La Petite Boulain did bring this home to me. Even a Princess did not have the freedom to choose her own husband, but once she was married and ruled her own household it seems her day-to-day life could be more independently decided upon and women such as Marguerite could wield true power themselves. I hadn't realised before how influential Anne's teenage years must have been in her later personal and religious life.

I am now inspired to learn more about these historical women both by reading the further four books in Lawrence's The Lady Anne series, and to read around the subject by searching out more well written and researched books on important historical women. I loved that here Anne's story is being told specifically as she experienced it, and I got a good sense of a women's world at the time. Art, poetry, clothing and food are detailed alongside religion and politics to give a wonderfully full picture of a fascinating time.

Etsy Find!
by Rooby Lane in
Portsmouth, England

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Books by Gemma Lawrence / Historical fiction / Books from England


  1. I haven't tried this author's Tudor work but it is on my wishlist!

    1. I'd been meaning to start this series for ages and now I'm kicking myself for not getting to it sooner!

  2. That sounds like an informative book.

    1. It is! Good research and a compelling narrative :-)

  3. oooh its really neat to learn about her life before the king! I can see why this captured your attention. And the attention to detail sounds like it was well captured. ❤

    1. Gemma's done a fabulous job of her research. Everything feels so authentic :-)