Review: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

Title: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn
Author: Robin Maxwell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Arcade
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 1, 2021 (originally April 24, 1997)
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

One was queen for a thousand days; one for over forty years.  Both were passionate, headstrong women, loved and hated by Henry VIII.  Yet until the discovery of the secret diary, Anne Boleyn and her daughter, Elizabeth I, had never really met.  

Anne was the second of Henry’s six wives, doomed to be beloved, betrayed, and beheaded. When Henry fell madly in love with her upon her return from an education at the lascivious French court, he was already a married man. While his passion for Anne was great enough to rock the foundation of England and of all Christendom, in the end he forsook her for another love, schemed against her, and ultimately had her sentenced to death.  But unbeknownst to the king, Anne had kept a diary.

At the beginning of Elizabeth ‘s reign, it is pressed into her hands.  In reading it, the young queen discovers a great deal about her much-maligned mother:  Anne’s fierce determination, her hard-won knowledge about being a woman in a world ruled by despotic men, and her deep-seated love for the infant daughter taken from her shortly after her birth.

In journal’s pages, Elizabeth finds an echo of her own dramatic life as a passionate young woman at the center of England ‘s powerful male establishment, and with the knowledge gained from them, makes a resolution that will change the course of history.


When Queen Elizabeth I is given her mother Anne Boleyn’s secret diary, she learns the truth about her parents’ relationship. Anne was Henri VIII’s second wife, but they had a very unstable relationship, ending in Anne’s death. Elizabeth sees a new perspective of her mother’s life, which determines the choices she makes in her new reign.

I love reading about Anne Boleyn, so I was excited to read this novel. There were dual narratives of Elizabeth, just beginning her long reign as Queen, and Anne, who was the second wife of Henry VIII. Elizabeth didn’t know this side of the story, since her mother died when she was a toddler. She had to learn her true history without the veil of her father’s narrative.

The ending of this story was very clever. There was a decision that Elizabeth made after learning about her mother’s life. She wanted to live her life differently and independently, and I believe she did that. I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth’s and Anne’s stories side by side.

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn is a must read for fans of Tudor historical fiction!

Thank you Arcade for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Have you read The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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