The Falcon's Rise
By Natalia Richards
Publication Date: 19th May 2020 Publisher: MadeGlobal Publishing Page Length: 474 Pages Genre: Historical Fiction
The day before her execution, Anne Boleyn’s mind wanders back to the journey that changed her life…
Born into the Boleyn family in rural Norfolk, obscurity looms, but when Anne's father, Thomas, moves the family to Hever Castle, in Kent, to further his own interests, the family’s fortunes take a turn for the better. Thomas secures a place for Anne’s sister, Mary, at the prestigious court of Margaret of Austria, but fate has other plans, and Anne ends up taking her place.
At thirteen, Anne yearns for adventure. However, unused to curbing her outspoken tongue and youthful curiosity, she discovers that life at Margaret’s court is not quite how she’d imagined. Experiencing love, loss, jealousy and fear, she soon realises that her future happiness lies in her own hands - and that she must shape her own destiny...
The following morning at nine o’clock, I left the petit cabinet, or private closet, with the Regent and her four ladies-in-waiting, including Lady Middlebourg. As we continued, past a smaller chamber or cabinet le jardin, Margaret chatted freely.
‘In there,’ she said, ‘lie my finest treasures. Monsieur Contault, assisted by a valet de chambre, takes care of my collection, for it is the finest in Europe.’ I listened, intent on remembering all I could.
‘I have clocks, pomanders, sculptures, board games, and counters. From my mother-in-law, Isabel of Castile, I have the most exquisite rose made out of gold and enamel. At the centre sits a great ruby and seven pearls.’ She laughed. ‘Why, I am like a magpie with a great desire to collect beautiful things!’
We walked back towards the main staircase and halted outside the large double doors. ‘Here, my dear, we dine in a large public chamber or sallett – thus.’ She flung the grand doors open wide and the gentlemen sitting turned, scrambled to their feet, and bowed low. ‘Breakfast is at seven, dinner at noon, supper at six and we dine by the rules of the strictest etiquette and protocol. I, of course, do not dine here for I have my own private dining chambers. The Countess of Hochstrate has, I am sure, instructed you on where to take your meals and in what order of precedence.’ I nodded but was not sure if I would be able to remember.
‘As mère des filles in charge of the young maids and ladies of the household you must take heed of her, or she becomes most agitated,’ she whispered her face in a mock frown. We walked back down the main staircase and Margaret stopped.
‘This is the grand entrance to my palace, Anna, and you were brought here when you first arrived. When the sun shines,’ she said, pointing, ‘light from the stained glass window floods these marble steps with red, gold, blue, and violet rays. There is, of course, meaning and purpose in this – red stands for charity, gold for faith and strength, azure for justice, and purple for authority. You see, we must never miss an opportunity to convey a royal message. You can also see how the windows depict my family’s noble crests. It never fails to impress my visitors when they first arrive at these steps, do you not agree, ladies?’ We descended into the courtyard.
‘You must forgive my artisans,’ said Margaret, nodding to the workmen as they took off their caps and bowed. ‘We are forever building, improving, and renovating – I have a mind to have an open gallery here – a covered walkway where I may take the air in inclement weather. Please continue, gentlemen,’ she said, as we stooped beneath the scaffolding.
On the first floor, we paused outside another large door and Margaret reached for a key on her girdle. There were several locks to open, but finally, we entered the chamber and I could see that this was a magnificent library, bright and light, for it boasted several fine windows. On the many shelves, the books were bound in velvet or gold brocade with golden clasps. ‘Since I wish to share my books,’ said Margaret, ‘this library is open to visitors. Here you may read Aristotle, Livy, the letters of Seneca or old romances such as ‘The Round Table’, ‘The Story of Jason’ and ‘Merlin.’ I do love romances! Here we also find the writings of Boccaccio, Phebus, and Artemidorus.’ I stared around in utter delight, for there were far more books here than in the library at Hever.
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As a curator and historian for over 30 years, I have worked in many museums in Derbyshire and later in London. Over the years, I specialised in everything from Victorian toys and memorabilia, to Royal Crown Derby and Militaria. I also worked free-lance for the History Channel USA as researcher, co-ordinator and interviewer on the award winning production 'Secrets of War.' However, my personal passion since a very early age has been the study of the Tudors, particularly Anne Boleyn and the court of King Henry VIII. I did not begin writing seriously until around 2008, and originally wanted to write about Anne Boleyn when she met the king and became queen. However, a great deal had already been written about this period, and I wished to tell a new story that few people are aware of.
With this in mind, I began to look at her earlier life from around 1500 to 1514. Since research as a curator has always been my passion, I tried to write as factual a novel as possible and spent months visiting sites such as Blickling in Norfolk, Hever Castle, Rochford Manor and the palace of Margaret of Austria, in Mechelen, just outside Brussels. It was here that Anne was sent to be a young maid-of-honour, and I was delighted to gain access to rooms not normally open to the public. The result of my research was ‘The Falcon's Rise.’ This was my first book and I continued Anne’s story in book two ‘The Falcon's Flight', published in 2019/20. This second book covers Anne’s time spent at the French court, and ends as she is about to return to England. In my spare time, I love travelling, rambling and visiting historic houses, as well as constantly reading and researching the Tudor period.