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Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Review of "Threads" by Nell Gavin

I just finished reading the book "Threads" by the very talented Nell Gavin.  I can honestly say that this is one of the best books I have ever read.  As the summary on the back of the book reads "In 1536 a woman dies, and the story begins..." and so it does.  The book is an exploration of the reincarnation of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII and various other members of their court.  When Anne dies she goes to a place called "the memories" where she is forced to examine her life and see how her actions move her ahead or backwards on the path to heaven.  She learns that virtue and humility bring a greater reward than social status, that no kindness goes unrewarded, and no cruelty unpunished.  She learns that she and Henry are truly soulmates, destined to be together for lifetimes to come and that the people she loves in her life she has loved time and again throughout many lifetimes.  She is tasked with forgiving Henry and learning to love him again, a task that will take hundreds of years and several lifetimes to accomplish as her anguish and rage are too great for her to put herself in contact with him too soon.

The reader gets a view of many of her other lifetimes, one spent as an Egyptian prostitute in the Valley of the Kings, where Henry was her best friend, and also her transvestite neighbor in the tent village where she plied her trade.  She had two daughters in this life and they are Katherine of Aragon and her mother in the life she spent as Anne Boleyn.  She is quite entertained by the discovery that most of Henry's court is present in the Valley of Kings, living as prostitutes or misfit soldiers.  They were not nearly so high and  mighty in this life, but they did learn to be mean and spiteful.  She spends another life, a life she loves, as a traveling acrobat in Flanders somewhere between the 1100s and the 1500s.  Henry is her husband and most of Henry's court is encountered throughout this life.  She has many children in this life, but loses three daughters as payment for leaving an infant girl on a hillside to die in another lifetime.  She lives again in China, again tasked with caring for a female infant that is unwanted, and again she fails, painfully. 

In the 1800s she is a spinster aunt, wanting no more of marriage but desperately wanting a child.  Her prayers are answered in a perverse way when her sister dies and she adopts her orphaned daughter.  She loses this child eventually too, however, and finally understands that children are to be loved, no matter if they are male or female.  She encounters Henry in this life as well, he is a man who is being hanged for rape, and the others who are being hanged with him were those who sat in judgement on her at her trial when she was Anne, and it is fitting justice.  Henry has to learn the lesson of not being prideful, just as Anne has to learn the lesson of forgiveness.

Finally she encounters Henry again in the 1970s, and again, most of her acquaintences from court choose to be together in this life as well.  They are hippies, and enjoy the communal living and feel as if they have come home in some way they can't quite explain when they are all together at Woodstock.  This life is only discussed in the last chapter or so of the book, and I wish it had been elaborated on more, but the book was no less spectacular for it.

Anne's character in this book was in some ways more girl than woman, especially in the beginning, and I hated that she did not love Elisabeth when she was born, but I understand why this was put into the story.  It had to be to explain the lesson of learning to love female children.  Though this is a somewhat different vision of Anne than my own, it was a wonderful book, and it left me in awe.  The video below is in line with the thought of the reincarnation of Anne and Henry, but it uses some clips of "The Other Boleyn Girl" but they have that film strip effect on them, so I think maybe it's meant to show Jonathan Rhys Myers watching the movie trying to figure out what he is dreaming about.  Anyway, the video is worth a watch.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds really good! I am adding it to my to-read list.