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Mistress Anne by Carolly Erickson: A Book Review

Mistress Anne

Author: Carolly Erickson

Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: 1998

Pages: 304

Source: My personal collection

Synopsis: As Maureen Quilligan wrote in the New York Times Book Review of The First Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn "was a real victim of the sexual scandals her brilliant daughter escaped, and a subject Ms. Erickson's sensitivity to sexual and political nuance should well serve." Indeed, Carolly Erickson could have chosen no more fascinating and appropriate a subject. Alluring and profoundly enigmatic, Anne Boleyn has eluded the grasp of historians for centuries.


     Through her extraordinarily vivid re-creation of this most tragic chapter in all Tudor History, Carrolly Erickson gives us unprecedented insight into the singuarlity of Anne Boleyn's life, the dark and overwhelming forces that shaped her errant destiny, and the rare, tumultuous times in which she lived.


     My Review: Anne Boleyn is the most famous of King Henry VIII’s wives. She has also been one of the most controversial figures in English history. In order to marry her, King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church. Yet, Anne’s reign as Queen would prove to be short-lived. Three years after her marriage, she was sent to the execution block. This biography of Anne Boleyn, tells the story of Anne Boleyn from her early years in France to her death in the Tower of London.


    I liked Mrs. Erickson’s depiction of Anne Boleyn. After Anne Boleyn returned to the English court, she rarely had a moment of happiness. Anne Boleyn could not marry the man she loved. Anne Boleyn was a pawn to her father and uncle. She had no choice but to continue her relationship to King Henry VIII. I like how Mrs. Erickson portrayed Anne Boleyn as a vulnerable woman who had no one to rely on except for King Henry VIII. Yet, when he tired of her, Anne Boleyn had no one. This put her in a dangerous situation which eventually led to her death.


     I like that Mrs. Erickson also showed Anne Boleyn’s negative qualities. Anne Boleyn had a bad temper and made many enemies, including Princess Mary, but Mrs. Erickson explains that it relates to her fear. Even though she was the most powerful woman in England, she was insecure. She rose very high, but she could be brought down swiftly. Anne Boleyn knew that if she did not provide the king with a male heir, then her future was in jeopardy. However, she did not expect that it would lead to her execution but hoped that she would be sent to a nunnery. Thus, Mrs. Erickson’s portrayal of Anne Boleyn was very sympathetic.


     Overall, this was a very short but comprehensive biography of Anne Boleyn. There were a few inaccuracies in this book that have been debunked. Also, there was some speculation and conjecture. However, it was still very engrossing. I really liked the courtship and marriage between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII. Mistress Anne was so compelling that I didn’t want to put it down! Mistress Anne is a great book for both those who do not know much about Anne Boleyn and for those that love to read any book about her! I recommend this for fans of Eric Ives, Alison Weir, and Susan Bardo!


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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