My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Bravo!!!! All the stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Historical fiction is quickly becoming my favourite genre, particularly when I find a royal gem like this. I requested this from NetGalley, half expecting to be turned down, as Alison Weir is an established author. But, lo and behold, I got accepted, and I was delighted!
Anne Boleyn was Henry’s second wife out of the six. Their relationship was an uphill struggle from the outset as Henry was still married to Katherine of Aragon for the best part of their courting, which caused controversy among the masses. This painted poor Anne as a harlot and whore. She was neither. In fact, she was a sassy, educated, well travelled woman who certainly knew what she wanted out of life. But back in the 1500’s, women generally weren’t to be seen as having an opinion to voice. They were there to help secure families’ futures, the most important thing of course was to have a son, and in royalty, an all important heir.
Alison Weirs historical knowledge shines from page one. She portrays the era with pinpoint perfection, every minute detail brought to living colour with ease. What I found most satisfying was that the basis of the story was factual. The author achieved an in-depth history lesson that was fascinating because the characters actually existed. She gave them their own part to play, and added their personalities, reactions and mannerisms based on her fantastic knowledge as a historian. The vision she had as a fictional author brought together an accurate depiction of events with drama and passion to make for a truly memorable read.
I’ll be honest in saying that it wasn’t the easiest read for me at times. At around half way through I had to stop for a while, in fact, for well over a week, because it was getting heavy. Not to hold, as it was on my kindle, (the physical book is a satisfying 544 pages) but heavy on the politics and religion. That was by no means a bad thing, because during the Tudor period, England was going through some very tough times, and Henry Tudor was responsible for a huge amount of uproar and change, so it was necessary and relevant to the story. But in order for me to get full enjoyment from it, I really did need that break. I’m not the best at taking in political plots and religious intricacies, and on various occasions I found I wasn’t connected to what I was reading. That, however, did not have any adverse effect on the story flow, it didn’t make me enjoy it any less, if anything, it made me more determined to finish it.
On finishing, I discovered at the end a ‘Timeline’ and a ‘Dramatis Personae’ or character list which really helped fill in a few gaps due to me not quite connecting or understanding certain areas of the book.
All in all, this is a fantastic read which I recommend to any fan of British History, it’s not the easiest, but it’s well worth persevering with because Alison Weir is an incredible author whom I shall be reading much more of in the future.
I’d like to thank the author, Alison Weir, the publisher, Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.