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Nell Gavin

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Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn
by Nell Gavin   

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Literary Fiction

Publisher:  Infinity ISBN-10:  074140916x Type: 


Copyright:  Feb 1 2002

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Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn

William Faulkner Competition finalist for best

Sometimes forgiveness takes lifetimes...

When Henry and Anne meet in 1970, they presume they're meeting for the first time.

They don't know they were married 434 years before. They don’t know they parted on bad terms. Anne has no idea why she has a compulsion to punish Henry, a man she's only just met, and he has no idea why he can't be near her without falling in love.

They don't know they are bona fide soul mates, bound to each other through eternity. They don't know that this meeting is a test...

Several lifetimes ago, and hundreds of years earlier in 1536, Henry and Anne were at the mercy of influences outside their control, explosively incompatible, and caught in a marriage that ended in betrayal so shocking that Anne required lifetimes to recover.

Henry, seemingly in defense of Anne (but more likely acting out of "stubborn perverseness", she observes), terrorized England and decreed widespread political murder in order to protect her. Ultimately, to Anne's horror, this once passionate husband turned on her and had her executed as well.

This original and compelling historical fantasy opens with Anne's execution. Her fury at her husband’s betrayal has enough momentum to survive centuries, but in Threads she learns that she has been assigned a hard task: she must review their history together through a number of past lives, and find it within herself to forgive him. This may prove difficult and take some time. The husband in question is Henry VIII. The narrator is the stubborn, volatile Anne Boleyn, who is not at all inclined to forgive.

It is a very unusual love story.

London, 1536

I could not see the crowd any longer. Were it not for the sound of an occasional involuntary cough, I might have thought myself alone and dreaming. In the midst of this unnatural stillness, I could sense the thousands of unsympathetic eyes I knew were fixed upon me. I could neither hide from them, nor could I stop myself from visualizing the faces and the stares.

Suddenly, startlingly, a bird flapped its wings and took flight. I imagined all faces were turned toward the sky and all eyes were now fixed upon the bird. For that one moment, all in attendance would have forgotten me and would allow me to quietly slip away before they even noticed I had left them. That fanciful imagery and a final prayer were all the comfort I could give myself.

A voice with a heavy French accent shouted: “Where is my sword?”

Then, in one instant, a hand reached for mine, and a voice gently said “Come,” and I followed. Disoriented yet aware, I looked down and saw the crowd, its taste for blood satisfied by the day’s entertainment. I thought, “Wait,” and saw Henry in my mind and in a flash I was with him for one last moment. He was mounted for the hunt, surrounded by huntsmen and hounds, awaiting the sound of gunshots that would announce my passing. They rang out as I watched and he inwardly flinched, outwardly revealing no emotion at all. He would now race to Jane, would make her his wife in only 10 days’ time, and would never speak my name aloud again.

I looked at him and thought, “Why?” like a wail, a keening, and could see he was disturbed, though determined not to be. Denying.

I knew he could sense me. It was in his thoughts, and I could read them as if they were spoken aloud. He was agitated and fearful. “Damn you, Henry,” I thought. He heard me in his mind, and thought he was mad.

Then I turned away from him one final time and floated toward the light and toward memory. Like a rustling, I felt him reach toward me then catch himself. Like a whisper, I heard him say to me, “Damn you,” but the words were not spoken except in his thoughts, and they carried no conviction in the face of his anxiety.

I sensed there were tears, but his face was stone and tears would not be shed. He would restrain them and hold them within like a cancer, and they would change him and the lives he touched from this day forward. He would never face what he had done. He would do it again and again as if to trivialize the sin. By feeling less next time he could prove it was not sin, for did he not feel righteous? If it were not right, would he not feel shame?

I know this because I know how Henry could twist logic to suit his ends. He could speak for God Himself, he believed, based solely on what he knew to be truth within his heart. He was my husband and I know him to his soul. He was often mistaken.

And so, many more lives would be lost by his decree. It would torment him till the end and he would be guilty, defiant, dictatorial, irrational and dangerous, never realizing that much of it was the denial of grief and conscience. It would be a sad end for a man who, oddly, wanted very much to be a good one.

With concern that was habit more than heartfelt, I absently thought, “He should cry,” then left him


Professional Reviews

Independent Book Publishers, June 2002
Wonderful. A really great book. Great concept, well-organized, well-written - a beautifully woven tapestry. And loads of fun.

Curled Up With a Good Book - Five Stars, Feb 2002
Threads is not your run-of-the-mill historical fiction...Nell Gavin's imagination shines through, and her research is meticulous.

Writer's Digest Review, May 2002
Threads inventive and well-researched potrait of Anne Boleyn and its aching, sophistocated love story impressed me most. Anne Boleyn is deliciously fleshed out here, the first-person narrator of a sweeping epic in the style of a non-satirical Orlando. Intelligent, good-hearted but certainly flawed, Anne is an accurately complex study of a woman who humbly admits to a certain amount of haughtiness, while at the same time making no apologies for her deep love to her fiancee, Hal, and deep passion for Henry VIII. The portrait really benefits from what seems like intense research of the life of Anne Boleyn - the narrative is surprisingly rich with historical detail. The reincarnation premise allows for a beautifully detailed exploration of love in its various forms, but especially the bond between two lovers who ache to both be equal partners and to rule over each other. Through the many incarnations of Henry and Anne, we're able to see these double binds played out extensively, along with the fury and perverseness that follow these two along because of their longings. This is a strong, smart, captivating work.

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Reader Reviews for "Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn"

Reviewed by Michael Tyler 2/5/2003
What a cool concept! I like that a lot. It goes on my "must buy" list.
Reviewed by 2/13/2002
A huge fan of Mme. Boleyn's daughter, I was more than a little intrigued by this book's premise.
I have to say that Nell Gavin does a remarkable job in reaching into the essence of Ann Boleyn. If her insight isn't exactly in sync with the lady herself - a possibility we can of course never know - it doesn't matter. Gavin is true to the circumstances we're familiar with and unflinchingly honest in bringing to life this extraordinary character. It FEELS honest, it feels right. Moreover, there's a lovely and dreamy quality throughout.
Any carping? OK. Maybe Henry doesn't captivate us as fully in THREADS as Ann does. But how vivid an impression does Rochester leave, once one gets to know Jane Eyre?
Brava, Nell Gavin.
Reviewed by Ian Thorpe 2/3/2002
One of the few serious novels I have really enjoyed recently. Threads is not just a big book in terms of wordcount, it is big on ideas and insight. As the sould of Anne Boleyn muses on its live and is shown scenes from other lives it has lived or will live, we are taken on a journey into the inner woman. Nell is a stylish writer who pulls off the difficult trick of suggesting the idioms of Tudor speech without falling into the trap of writing in a pastiche of Shakespearean verse. But this ill-fasted Queen is no wussy little downtrodden woman. She is intelligent, talented, witty and as we say in the north of England "has a right gob on her." Through her quick tongue she contributes to many of her misfortunes yet one cannot help but warm to this vision of Anne. If she was alive today she would certainly be a leading feminist and possibly a great politician.
Threads is a book that has lessons for us all.
Reviewed by Christopher Treagus 1/15/2002
The stuff of dreams. Very interesting. I have a fascination for this sort of thing, and the writing looks to be very good. I'm going to have to take a look at it. The sub-concious can be an amazing thing!
Christopher Treagus
reviewer at
Reviewed by Dorothy Thompson 10/22/2001
This book sounds simply wonderful. I was just killing time tonight by doing a search on soul mates here at the AuthorsDen as I am in the middle of compiling a true soul mate collection of stories for an anthology that will be released in print in Spring '02. If you are interested yourself, please see my website for more information.
Reviewed by Leslie 9/10/2001
Threads is a journey of two soul mates, drawn together again and again through many lives. It is a journey through love and loss, pain and bliss, trust and betrayal, all leading toward a deeper level of understanding which we all must reach eventually.

Threads is also a historical novel centering on one of history's most fascinating couples, King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. It is a love story told with candor, insight, wit, and empathy. Nell Gavin has a gift for pulling a reader in and causing them to think, like it or not, and presenting proof that we are, in fact,
responsible for our actions after all.
Sometimes controversial, sometimes disturbing in its intensity, always compelling and told in a very human way,
Threads is a book I highly recommend. You will surely be moved and forever changed.

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