Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession: Six Tudor Queens 2 by Alison Weir
|Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession: Six Tudor Queens 2 by Alison Weir|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Alison Weir moves on to Henry VIII's wife #2, rethinking a well-known story in the light of new ideas that will agog the most Tudored-our devotee.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 544||Date: May 2017|
|Publisher: Headline Review|
|External links: Author's website|
Thomas Boleyn sends his daughters abroad to be trained at the courts of European royalty. Not only does this give them an education in the ways of the elite, it could also ensure a good marriage. Unfortunately he hasn't reckoned on the ideas that one of them, Anne, picks up and as for marriage… Anne is determined to marry for love not through some paternal arrangement. Yet the reality turns out to be different, driving a wedge through her family on a road leading to dark tragedy.
Historian and historical fiction author Alison Weir continues to look at each of Henry VIII's six wives in the light of comparatively recent revelations and ideas that cast a different light to that which we've been accustomed.
We started with Katherine of Aragon, the wife who spent most of her adult life pregnant before being cast aside for those with more son-bearing potential. Now we move on to number two, the daughter of an ambitious nouveau riche and one of the wives who would have preferred the divorce Katherine suffered to their own eventual fate.
We're used to an Anne portrayed with an assertive streak and here Alison shows us why. Being trained in European courts in a way reminiscent of part raunchy finishing school, part elaborate prison, Anne comes across elicit ideas spread in the secret salons of female royalty and lesser nobility alike. The danger of these notions is that they challenge the patriarchal order; why can't women be equals rather than chattels? This feeds into Anne's ambition to marry someone who would love and respect her in a way generally afforded to males in those days.
We all know that the events that followed didn't tie in with Anne's desires for an egalitarian happy-ever-after, but there are still light bulb moments that Alison draws to our attention making this a must read for Tudor fans. For instance I hadn't appreciated the complexity of the courtship and the way that it stretched over years.
Through Anne's own eyes we see the different phases. First her disgust with Henry, especially regarding the situation between him and her sister Mary. Then comes the realisation that escape is impossible, in fact her father is less than supportive once he weighs up his loyalties to his daughter with his desire for wealth. Finally she begins to see the bright side of power but any urge to get it over with is hampered by Papal arguments, emissary visits back and forth and seeming interminability of it all.
With Katherine we felt the wasted years as she hoped for an heir, pregnancy after pregnancy. This time we feel the wasted years and growing frustration as Anne wonders if Henry will desert her for the wife he deserted for her rather than wait out Rome's delaying tactics.
Even though we know what happens, the story of the King and the Pope, two immovable forces trying to out-manoeuvre each other, is retold in a way that builds suspense. The pace of the novel lags slightly when it comes to the politics but they are fascinating which is just as well as they fill a fair chunk of book.
Despite the number of pages, the end comes too soon; an end that may be biological questionable, but the dramatic effect is worth it. I found myself sobbing for Anne even though I was ready for the moment.
I had no tears to shed over her father though and now I'd like to go on and read Thomas Boleyn biography or two to see if I'm being unfair. That's what makes Alison such a good author: her books are just the beginning, firing curiosity rather than suffocating its flame.
(We'd like to thank Headline Review for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: Although each book works as a stand-alone, you'd be missing a treat if you didn't read Book 1 in this superlative series. If you'd like to read more of Anne Boleyn, there's Alison's wonderful non-fiction work The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn. If you'd rather something non-Tudor then come with us to the 14th century and The Shadow Queen by Anne O'Brien.
You can read more book reviews or buy Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession: Six Tudor Queens 2 by Alison Weir at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession: Six Tudor Queens 2 by Alison Weir at Amazon.com.
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