Review From User :
This is the second book in Alison Weir's new fiction series, following the stories of the Six Wives of Henry VIII. The first novel looked at Katherine of Aragon, concentrating on her as a young woman and wife. Of course, in this book, Katherine of Aragon appears too, as we are now looking at the story of Anne Boleyn; the woman who replaced Katherine - not as a mistress, but as a wife.
Like the previous novel, this is also very much a straightforward fictional biography. There is a real sense that Alison Weir is a master of her craft, and so knowledgeable of the time period that she easily makes you feel that you there, at Court, with the characters. This could bring new readers to historical fiction, in the way that, "The Other Boleyn Girl," did when I first discovered the Tudors as a, much younger, reader.
Of all Henry's wives, I personally find Anne Boleyn the most interesting. This takes her from a young girl of eleven years old, up to the end of her life. To many, Anne Boleyn is a feminist icon, to others, she is a scheming, ambitious woman, and many concentrate on her learning, intelligence and her religious reforms. I would say that Weir attempts to be fair in her writing - whether she is speaking of Katherine or Anne. She tells each novel from the point of view of the central character she is writing about and so gives us a fairly sympathetic portrayal of both. This is a difficult balance, but Weir is adept at balancing different characters and storylines.
We begin with Anne going to the court in the Netherlands as a young girl, and, later, France, before returning to England. She is always in competition with her sister, Mary, and closest to her youngest brother, George, This book is full of excellent characters - from George's wife, Jane Rochford, to Wolsey, Cromwell and the Boleyn family; adept at advancing their place at King Henry's court. Then, of course, there is Henry; capricious, difficult to read, changeable, emotional and unstable. The spider at the centre of a web that he knows he has ultimate control of.
Of course, you may not agree with all of Weir's takes on events. Whether it is her early love for Henry Percy, her battles with Wolsey, the demands of her father and uncle or her feelings for Henry and Elizabeth. However, this is a fascinating, historical story and Weir tells it with flair. If you have not read the story of Anne Boleyn before, you are sure to learn a lot about a woman who gambled and, ultimately, lost. I look forward to reading the later books in this series and always enjoy Weir's storytelling.
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