I love reading novels about the Tudors, particularly Henry VIII and his constant striving to combine his lustful desires with begetting a male heir to the English throne. This book is the usual tale of the wooing of Anne Boleyn by King Henry VIII and the 'Great Matter' that consumed England during the 1500s, but with a different slant.
Anne is portrayed as a young woman who initially loves Queen Katherine and is tries to discourage Henry's attention and affection. Only later does she become the avaricious, vindictive woman striving for the crown at any expense. Henry is portrayed as a man who seems filled with fear - of God, the Pope, his advisors and even of the women in his life - Katherine, Anne and even his daughter, Mary. Although Henry impulsively follows his desires, he is also portrayed as a prevaricator, easily influenced by those around him and not wanting to offend or lose the good favour of the people he loves, likes or respects. Katherine remains regal and dignified throughout.
The novel is filled with a cast of interesting characters, each with a unique relationship to Henry, Anne or Katherine, and each playing a vital part in how the story unfolds. While the fate of Anne Boleyn is well known and expected, this novel portrays Anne's last days masterfully and evocatively. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Thanks to Hachette Australia and NetGalley for the ARC.
Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession takes on a new intense, sympathetic perspective on Anne Boleyn’s life. In particular, the author explored a refreshing feminist perspective where Anne was a heroine in her own right – using her powers to influence social policies of the day and using her charm and wit to gain the favour of Henry VIII. What I enjoyed most about this novel is that whilst the story is overall sympathetic to Anne Boleyn, it was told in a believable way. The author added layers to her personality by showing that Anne Boleyn was an imperfect, ambitious woman who is also fragile and insecure throughout her life as mistress and then Queen of Henry VIII. This book chronologically accounts Anne Boleyn’s life from the glamorous French Court where she served as lady in waiting, to her time in the English Court where she ensnared the lust and obsession of Henry VIII. It accounts all her struggles against Queen Katherine (Henry VIII’s first wife) and daughter Mary, the harrowing path to become the new but much hated Queen of England and ending with her well-known downfall. Overall, it’s a long but intriguing read about what life would have been like as Anne Boleyn who was portrayed as a progressive and spirited woman. A woman who had to choose between love and power, faith and desire, passion and duty. There was substantial research done by the author to make this book an authentic read. I recommend this book for historical fiction lovers!