Tuesday 29 January 2019

A Discovering Diamonds review of Betrayal by Michele Kallio

"a well-observed mystery-novel interpretation of the demise of Anne Boleyn."


family drama / Supernatural / fantasy

“Betrayal is the story of two women separated by thousands of miles and nearly five centuries, told in alternating chapters.
Although born in Devon, England, modern day Lydia Hamilton has lived her whole life in Canada. She seems to be living the perfect life living and working with her physician boyfriend, Dan Taylor, that is, until she begins to have a recurring nightmare of people and places she does not know- that haunts even her waking hours. Lydia resists Dan’s urging that she see Alan Stokes, a psychology professor at a local university for hypnosis. She tries to ignore her dreams as long as she can. But in desperation she allows Alan to begin hypnotherapy in hopes of understanding why she continues to have the dream. When a Christmas parcel arrives from her mother’s family in England, Lydia finds an old diary in the box and she quickly realizes that the woman, Elisabeth Beeton, she is dreaming about really existed and that there is more to her nightmares than just dreams. She must find out how this woman diary came to be at Morely’s Cross and why she haunts Lydia’s dreams. She flies to Devon, England. While in England she begins to unravel her parent’s estrangement and learns that she is to inherit her mother’s ancestral home. Dan refuses to accompany Lydia to England, but Alan is convinced there is a truth that must be uncovered. Lydia and Alan search the house at Morely’s Cross finding a packet of letters of accusation against Anne Boleyn. While involved in their search for Elisabeth, Alan and Lydia realized they have strong feelings for each other. When Dan finally arrives in England it is to bring Lydia home and stop all the nonsense. But he is too late, Lydia and Alan have already declared their feeling for each other.

Elisabeth Beeton, a lady’s maid to Anne Boleyn falls in love with George Boleyn, Anne’s brother who is trapped in a barren and loveless marriage. George seeks to have his marriage to Jane Boleyn set aside when Elisabeth becomes pregnant in 1534. Anne refuses and Elisabeth is sent to Staffordshire where she gives birth to a son. Jane is also away from Court having been exiled because of an argument with the King, Henry VIII, when she returns to Court in the summer of 1535 she learns of their affair and realizes she has been made a fool of, but she decides her place at Court is too important to lose over such a minor matter. In 1536 Elisabeth finds herself pregnant again. When George goes to Anne, she begs him wait until her son is born, but Anne miscarries in late January. George realizes his suit is hopeless now and urges Elisabeth to fulfil a marriage contract her grandfather had arranged with Andrew Tremayne, to protect her and his child. Reluctantly Elisabeth agrees and she marries Andrew immediately in an effort to convince him that the child she is carrying is his. But after witnessing Elisabeth and George in a lover’s embrace, Andrew realizes he has been cuckolded and seeks his revenge by going to Thomas Cromwell, the King’s Chancellor. Henry has become eager to escape his marriage to Anne believing it to be cursed by God and he pressures Cromwell to find a way out. Andrew promises Cromwell a letter from Elisabeth listing the Queen’s infidelities with names, dates and places. Meanwhile Cromwell has contacted Jane Boleyn to tell her about the child born in Staffordshire. Angry Jane seeks her revenge by agreeing to write the letter Cromwell wants. Andrew produces his letter and it is decided that Elisabeth must be kept incommunicado so that she cannot deny the letter. She is arrested and taken to the Tower in April 1536. After the trials and executions of Anne and George, she is released unaware of the part her husband played in their demise. Years later Andrew will reveal this in a fit of anger.”

Betrayal is possibly not to everyone’s personal taste – it will depend on whether you like the fantasy of supernatural tied up with history. I rather do so I enjoyed this novel. Most of us know the historical facts about Anne Boleyn – or do we? That is the delightful thing about fiction, authors can interpret or even invent where there are echoes of doubt about the ‘facts’. We were not there at the time that these momentous events happened so we can never know for certain what really happened, and this is where fiction steps into the breach.

Betrayal, I thought, was a well-observed mystery-novel interpretation of the demise of Anne Boleyn. The blend of the lives of modern-day Lydia and Tudor Elisabeth was well done, although the historical characters did, perhaps, shine a little more than the contemporary ones. Could the author have made just as good a novel by concentrating on the Tudor story as a separate, plain, un-supernatural-themed historical novel? The answer is yes, definitely for she reproduced the feel and empathy for the 1500s with great skill – but equally, the dual setting of modern-day created a different kind of story, so as I said at the beginning it really depends on individual taste and preference.

For my mind, an interesting and absorbing read!

© Mary Chapple

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