ANNE BOLEYN. The second of Henry’s Queens. Her story.
History tells us why she died.
This powerful novel shows her as she lived.
Anne Boleyn: A Kings Obsession is a novel by the UK’s top-selling female historian, Alison Weir.
Also entitled Six Tudor Queens : II, Alison Weir is following on from her novel Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen (Six Tudor Queens: I) which was the first in a series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII.
I received my copy from Headline Review and today I have for you all my unbiased and voluntary review.
The stunning second novel in the Six Tudor Queens series
Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love.
But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.
Anne has a spirit worthy of a crown – and the crown is what she seeks. At any price.
An unforgettable portrait of the ambitious woman whose fate we know all too well, but whose true motivation may surprise you.
I am not a historian so my knowledge of Henry VIII and his marriages are purely based on my history lessons from school. I studied the Reformation but what I learnt was exam based and very factual. I never knew the ‘Real’ story….until now.
Alison Weir has written a tome of a book and at 544 pages this is not a book you would read in one sitting, but neither would you want to. We are transported very visually to a time and place, a different era indeed. 1512, Anne Boleyn is 11 years old and about to embark on an extraordinary life. Born into relative wealth, with Anne’s father already serving in the courts, Anne was granted a position in the court of Margaret of Austria, in Burgandy and in 1513, Anne sets sail on a voyage, one that would change the course of her life forever.
‘Anne gasped. They were in a vast rectangular courtyard surrounded by splendid facades on all sides, mostly built in the ubiquitous red brick of the Netherlands; there were graceful open arcades at ground level, tall mullioned windows and a steep pitched roof with dormer rooms. “I love it!” Anne breathed. ” I have never seen anything like it“‘
As Anne soon discovers, mannerisms and poise are of high value to any looking to advance in this strange world she finds herself in. She becomes extremely aware of ‘the power of display’
‘What you wore sent out important messages to people who mattered…the watchword was magnificence’
What I found so fascinating, in these early introductions to Anne’s life, was her uncanny ability to transform herself to a coy, bashful young lady at 12 years old. With her childhood firmly planted in the past, Anne swiftly learned the ways of the court and it wasn’t long before she was heading to Paris and all the ostentatious characteristics we expect when we read about those days.
Anne’s joy to be in Paris soon turns to frustration.
‘It felt like being in prison, immured in the Queen’s lavishly painted and gilded rooms, which offered every luxury a woman might require but held no attraction for Anne. What good did it do to wear all her gorgeous court gowns, on which Father had outlaid so much money, if no one saw them?’
In time the political hostilities between England and France result in Anne’s banishment from French soil and after many years Anne finds herself back home with the family at Hever Castle. Restless with the parochial nature of family life Anne’s father secures her a position as maid of honour in Queen Katherine’s household at Greenwich.
Now approaching her twenties, Anne delights in this news. Queen Katherine may be Spanish, but to be back among royalty is where Anne feels she will thrive.
The one fact that stood out for me in reading this novel were the opportunities Anne was able to avail of. She had a very impatient relationship with her sister Mary and even though her father and herself may not have always seen eye-to-eye, he appeared to have great ambitions and hopes for her.
Obviously it’s no spoiler to mention Anne’s death, as we all know how her story ended, but it is Anne’s rise though the courts, her battle with Queen Katherine and her volatile relationship with King Henry VIII that Alison Weir explores so well throughout this novel.
I was very surprised to read how manipulative a person she was. She was forever expounding her views, not afraid of the predominance of men surrounding her daily in court life. Anne had very strong opinions on the reforms of the church and on how Henry should approach certain topics.
Henry clearly was infatuated with Anne. She was different. She was ambitious. Henry wanted her as his wife and literally moved hell and earth to get her. But as the years passed the one thing Anne could not give Henry was a male heir and this was to be her downfall.
A Kings Obsession is a very appropriate name for this novel about the short life of Anne Boleyn. Henry was truly obsessed, but in the end his obsession mattered not.
Alison Weir takes the reader on a journey that I feel could be aptly renamed ‘Walking with The Tudors’ As I read each page and opened each new chapter I was walking back in time and along the corridors of the great courts.
For me I did struggle slightly with a lot of the historical figures who featured in the novel but that was just my own lack of knowledge more than anything else. At the back of the book there is a Dramatis Personae, with a mention of all the characters, so at any point the reader can do a quick check to re-establish where they are. Also there is a timeline included which I found to be very useful.
Epic is the only word I think that aptly describes this novel. Anne Boleyn:A King’s Obsession is a narrative that explores the shy young girl and her transformation into a very formidable woman. The writing is superb and the historical knowledge is evident in every page. It is a fascinating read. It is an engrossing read. It is an intriguing look at the life of a Queen, the life of Anne Boleyn.
Purchase Link ~ Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession
Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian (and the fifth bestselling historian overall) in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Life Patron of Historic Royal Palaces, and is married with two adult children.
Anne Boleyn is the second in the Six Tudor Queens series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII, which began with Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen – a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.
Website ~ http://alisonweir.org.uk/
Twitter ~ @AlisonWeirBooks