Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession (Six Tudor Queens #2) by Alison Weir: A Book Review

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession
Author: Alison Weir
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Pages: 561
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 Synopsis: In this second novel of Alison Weir’s epic Six Tudor Queens series, the acclaimed author and historian weaves exciting new research into the story of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s most infamous wife, a woman ahead of her time whose very life—and death—forever changed a nation.

     Born into a noble English family, Anne is barely a teenager when she is sent from her family’s Hever Castle to serve at the royal court of the Netherlands. This strategic move on the part of her opportunistic father also becomes a chance for the girl to grow and discover herself. There, and later in France, Anne thrives, preferring to absorb the works of progressive writers rather than participate in courtly flirtations. She also begins to understand the inequalities and indignities suffered by her gender.

     Anne isn’t completely inured to the longings of the heart, but her powerful family has ambitious plans for her future that override any wishes of her own. When the King of England himself, Henry VIII, asks Anne to be his mistress, she spurns his advances—reminding him that he is a married man who has already conducted an affair with her sister, Mary. Anne’s rejection only intensifies Henry’s pursuit, but in the absence of a male heir—and given an aging Queen Katherine—the opportunity to elevate and protect the Boleyn family, and to exact vengeance on her envious detractors, is too tempting for Anne to resist, even as it proves to be her undoing. 

     While history tells of how Anne Boleyn died, this compelling new novel reveals how fully she lived.

     My Review: In the second book of the Six Tudor Queens series, Alison Weir focuses on the life of Anne Boleyn. In this historical fiction novel, Anne is portrayed as a woman ahead of her time. She had grown up in the courts of Margaret of Austria and Marguerite of Valois. Therefore, she had Renaissance ideals and believed in reforming the Catholic Church. She is also a young girl who dreams of marrying for love. When she catches the eye of Henry VIII, at first she spurns his advances because he is a married man. Yet, when he decides to make her his queen, Anne reluctantly agrees, believing that by being queen, she can put her beliefs into practice. Anne eventually becomes in love with power. However, as her unpopularity grows and her tempestuous relationship with Henry continues, Anne begins to wonder if the glittering crown of England is worth it in the end.

    Anne Boleyn is a very fascinating and controversial figure. Mrs. Weir decides to tell the story from Anne’s point of view. We follow Anne from when she first joins the court of Margaret of Austria to her execution. We see what led to her decision in supplanting Katherine to become queen. Anne definitely has her flaws. She is temperamental, power-hungry, controlling, and vengeful. She wants to destroy those who have hurt her. However, there are moments of Anne’s vulnerability when she questions her ruthless actions. At first, she is reluctant to hurt Katherine because of the kindness she bestowed on her. In, the end, she is remorseful at the trouble and pain that she caused Katherine’s daughter Mary. Thus, Anne is a deeply complex character.

   Overall, Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession is an in-depth psyche about Anne Boleyn’s motivations and her actions. While Anne Boleyn was a deeply complex character, the rest of the cast were flat. This may have been because the story was told from her point of view. Even though this was a long novel, the story was very fast-paced. Therefore, some of the scenes were rushed, and it left me a bit disappointed because I would have loved for Mrs. Weir to have spent more time developing the characters. Still, this is by far the best novel I have read on Anne Boleyn, and I will definitely be re-reading it. This is because despite its flaws, I thought the story was beautifully written. It seemed as if I was in Tudor England and walking alongside Anne until the moment when her head is chopped off. Thus, while I did like Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession has surpassed it. I can’t wait to read Alison Weir’s next novel in the Six Tudor Queens about Jane Seymour!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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