Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Review: In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett

About the Book: "I am the first writer, The Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne, and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world."

So begins the narration of one such angel in this sweeping historical tale set during the reign of England's Henry VIII. It is the story of two women, their guardian angels, and a mysterious, subversive book ... a book that outrages some, inspires others, and launches the Protestant Reformation.

The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the Bible, persecuting anyone who dares read it.

Historic figures come alive in this thrilling story of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, angels and mortals ... and the sacred book that will inspire you anew. Fans of Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury will love Ginger's intriguing combination of rich character development, artful settings, and inspiring historical insights.

My Review: I read The Other Boleyn Girl earlier this year and loved it. It was the kind of book that cast history in a brand new light for me and consumed my thoughts while I was reading it. So I was both excited and uncertain about this book.

Ginger Garrett tries to take an entirely different approach to the Anne Boleyn story and cast her as a devout saint...both for refusing to sleep with King Henry for so long and also for her work in getting the Bible into the hands of commoners. She didn't really succeed in convincing me that Anne Boleyn had been misunderstood. Gregory's depiction made much more sense to me, even though I'm not entirely convinced her portrayal was accurate, either.

So the Anne Boleyn part of this book simply didn't work for me. Perhaps if the book was longer and more story support could have been developed, it would have, but Garrett condenses the entire period into a year which is hard to swallow when it took several years to for all of these events to take place. It weakened the credibility and drama of the story.

But, what did work for me was the story of Hutchins book, aka the Bible translated into English. I found this part of the story fascinating and wish Garrett had focused the entire book on this. I loved hearing how people risked their lives for the chance to read and own this book. It was profoundly moving and would have provided enough drama for an entire series.

Garrett's prose is lovely and her pacing is fine, if not a bit too fast. And the epilogue gave me chills...but I won't spoil it for you, because it must be read in context.

Anne Boleyn remains a fascinating historical character to me and I think there will always be room to explore just exactly who she was.

Check out In the Shadow of Lions on Amazon.


Melody said...

I loved The Other Boleyn Girl too! I'll have to check out this one. Thanks for the great review, Amy!

Lezlie said...

>>Anne Boleyn remains a fascinating historical character to me and I think there will always be room to explore just exactly who she was.<<

I completely agree! Just when I think I'm sick of reading about her, another author finds an interesting way to present her. The portrayals aren't always convincing, as you said, but I always enjoy the opportunity to see her just a little differently.


Anonymous said...

Phillipa Gregory did right an entertaining although historically inaccurate book. I did some research, she based her book on historian Renthe Warwick's book. Ms. Warwick was roundly criticized by her peers for blatently ignoring well documented historical evidence in her theories (ie the fact that in reality Mary was the older sister and had a bad reputation). I understand why Gregory did it. The true history would have been rather dull to read. I'm not saying Anne was a saint, but Mary was certainly not one.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I was just skimming through my Google Reader and saw your post, and at first glance I would have SWORN it said "In the Shadow of My LOINS"! Let me tell you, THAT caught my attention for sure. I thought "what in the world is Amy reading?!" Of course, then I read the entire title and felt a bit stupid. ~LOL~ That's what I get for skimming through posts rather than reading them the way I should.

Amy said...

Most other portrayals of Mary are pretty negative, but the way Anne is portrayed, as hard and ambitious is somewhat believable to me. I don't know about the incest, but I do think Anne was smart and probably ambitious. How about Catherine of Aragon? Gregory casts her in a very sympathetic light, but Garrett makes her out to be a witch.
Heather--that's so funny! Well, I'm always trying to change it up! ;)

Ladytink_534 said...

Oh I want to read this! I've read so many books about Anne Boleyn ever since I discovered her in a young adult story my library had as a kid.

Anonymous said...

I could never buy Anne Boleyn as a saint. She much too much Scarlett and if there was any Melanie in her, politics and ambition got in the way. To be honest, even if I could buy it, I wouldn't like Anne Boleyn as a saint.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I DO remember reading this review before, I just didn't remember the name.

Hmm. Now I'm conflicted because it made me more interested to accept the book...

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment! I appreciate hearing your thoughts.