08 June 2017

Review of Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn - A King's Obsession by Alison Weir

* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

I've always been interested in the life of Anne Boleyn (and her daughter Elizabeth I) and have read about her from the pens of several authors including: Robin Maxwell, C.C. Humphreys and Philippa Gregory. I've also watched many documentaries, movies and TV shows about Anne Boleyn, including: The Other Boleyn Girl, The Tudors and Wolf Hall to name a few, and I'm currently watching The Six Wives of Henry VIII with Lucy Worsley.

Alison Weir is an established and popular historian and 
Anne Boleyn - A King's Obsession was my first historical fiction novel of hers. We follow Anne's upbringing in French court and the powerful women she served, including Margaret of Austria, Henry VIII’s sister in France Queen Mary and later Queen Claude

This was easily my favourite part of the book and an aspect of Anne's life often overlooked or glossed over in other books and media. Although the rape of her sister in the French court and later at the English court was shocking to me and I'm not quite sure where the history stops and the fiction begins with regard to these events.

I'll admit I was struck by Weir's different take on Anne Boleyn and found the differences difficult to adjust to in the beginning. Weir presents Anne as never truly loving Henry as I've always imagined she did and instead being motivated by power. She describes her as having a sixth fingernail on her little finger (not an extra finger) although on further investigation, I found this description to be the more accurate one. Just a further example of how Anne Boleyn has been mythologised and portrayed over the centuries since her death.

Eventually I was able to surrender myself to Weir's narrative after I left my preconceived ideas at the door and ended up enjoying her novel immensely. Despite already knowing how Anne Boleyn died, and having read about and seen the scene play out in many genres, the author was able to create an incredibly moving 'end' and one that I found unexpectedly moving and even upsetting.

Alison Weir is clearly a huge talent in the genre of historical fiction and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future. Given this is the second novel in the Six Tudor Queens series, I know I'll be spoiled for choice.

Highly recommended.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

4 comments:

Ms. M. said...

Interesting to find a different take on such a well-known historical figure. Thanks for your review.

Tracey said...

Thanks Ms M, it was a different take and I was resistant at first but ended up loving it. This is only the second 5 star rating I've given this year.

Davida Chazan said...

I've been fascinated by this era since... well... probably longer than you've been alive, but you know, Anne Boleyn ends up being the subject of SO many books, I'm a bit tired of her, even if the author has found a new twist. I'd be much more interested in a book about Katherine Parr - the one who survived him!

Tracey said...

Thanks Davida. If you're interested in Kateryn Parr, I can highly recommend The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory. I read it in 2015 and it was one of my top 5 books of the year.

http://www.carpelibrum.net/2015/08/review-taming-of-queen-by-philippa.html