“I have miscarried of my savior.”
— Queen Anne Boleyn, 1536 —
Lady Catherine Carey Knollys, daughter of Mary Boleyn and William Carey, Esquire to the Body and Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to King Henry VIII, is a puzzle to English historians and history writers. Why? Whether through gossip and innuendo or simple known fact, many in her lifetime believed Catherine Carey Knollys to be the illegitimate and unacknowledged child of King Henry himself, consummated while he engaged in a known extra-marital affair with Mary Boleyn.
Make no mistake about it. Lady Catherine Carey Knollys, wife of Sir Francis Knollys, K.G., led a remarkable life. Thought by Alison Weir to possibly be present at the execution of her aunt, Queen Anne Boleyn, Lady Knollys was first a Maid of Honor to Queen Anne of Cleves and Queen Katherine Howard and later Chief Lady of the Bedchamber to her first cousin, and perhaps half-sister, Queen Elizabeth Tudor. Our Lady Knollys was also quite a busy woman. While in service to her monarch, she gave birth to 14 children with remarkably 12 living to adulthood.
In The Light of the Labyrinth, Wendy J. Dunn explores the final days of Queen Anne Boleyn through the eyes of the 14 year old Catherine Carey, and in doing so composes a lovely and poignant “coming of age” story. Though written in the third person, the novel is composed solely through the narrator’s glimpse inside the keyhole of Catherine Carey’s experiences. In using this approach, Queen Anne Boleyn’s tragic final five months of life take on the drama, magical thinking, naivety and raw emotion so common of early teenagers.
Although written for a teenage audience, I enjoyed the fast moving plot, and in particular the character development and evolving maturity throughout the novel of Catherine Carey. She is a compelling character that leaves any mother of a teenage daughter “nodding her head” at how she initially views her family. Without giving away the plot with spoilers, Catherine Carey shines through clearly as a “typical 14 year old ‘any era’ teenager”. Thus she judgmentally scoffs at her mother’s life choices, while idolizing her aunt and other Boleyn relatives. Catherine also wonders who exactly her father really is. Her ultimate realization might surprise you.
Beyond the wonderful characterization of Catherine Carey, Wendy J. Dunn did a noble job composing Queen Anne Boleyn, no easy task for any novelist. The relationship between the Queen and her niece is also nicely crafted and believable. My only word of warning to to teenage readers is this: The Light of the Labyrinth is a novel, not a factual historical accounting of the lives of Lady Catherine Carey Knollys and Queen Anne Boleyn. It is a fictional story set within real history. If Wendy J. Dunn’s wonderful storytelling sparks an interest in learning more about these two remarkable women, research further through historical biographies and history books. You will not be disappointed.
Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers highly recommends The Light of the Labyrinth. It is exactly the type of novel that draws youth into a life-long love of history.
Wendy J. Dunn is an historical fiction writer from Melbourne, Australia. Obsessed with Tudor and Medieval Castile History, she is the author of the award-winning Anne Boleyn novel Dear Heart, How Like You This?
Wendy’s new novel, The Light in the Labyrinth, a young adult novel revisiting Anne Boleyn in the last months of her life, was recently published with Metropolis Ink in paperback, Kindle and e-pub.
Wendy is also a scholar and expects to gain her doctoral degree in writing at Swinburne University sometime this year. Besides her writing life, Wendy works as a literature support teacher at Eltham North Primary School and also tutors at Swinburne University in the Masters level writing studies. She is the mother of three sons and one daughter. For more information about Wendy J. Dunn, visit her website at www.wendyjdunn.com http://wendyjdunn.com/.