Brief Gaudy Hour (Barnes)

Discussion Questions 
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Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Brief Gaudy Hour:

1. Talk about the way in which women in this era, including the two Boleyn daughters, were used as tokens to advance the status and fortunes of families.

2. Aside from her beauty (which was not considered as great as her sister Mary's), what makes Anne Boleyn so appealing to men? What attracts the King?

3. What drives Anne's desire to bring down Cardinal Wolsey? How does she manipulate his downfall?

4. How—and why—does Anne manage to keep the King at bay and out of her bed? What logic does she use upon Henry that makes him agree with her? What do you think might have happened had she agreed to sexual relations before marriage?

5. What are Anne's feelings toward Henry? Does she love him? Why is she so determined to marry him...and attain the title of Queen?

6. Follow-up on Question #5: Perhaps the more significant question is what drives Anne? Is she merely grasping and ambitious, or frightened? In what way is her security/safety bound up with her advancement?

7 What does Anne discover during her visit with Harry Percy six years after they are parted?

8. Talk about Anne's treatment of Catherine of Aragon and her daughter Princess Mary? What possesses Anne to dispense with mourning and celebrate Catherine's death? Why is Henry so angry with her when he interrupts the masque?

9. What affect does the incident of Princess Mary's curtsey on the balcony have on Anne as she and Henry are leaving after visiting to their daughter Elizabeth? Why doesn't Henry pay a visit to Mary?

10. What does Anne finally come to realize about herself...what self-awareness does she gain?

11. Was Anne victim...or a "tragic" figure, who succumbed as a result of an inner flaw?

12. How does this Anne compare with more recent treatments of her in historical fiction, especially in Philippa Gregory's account in The Other Boleyn Girl ... or in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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