Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Review ~ Anna of Kleve : Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir

Anna of Kleve : Queen of Secrets is published May 2nd 2019 by Headline Review 

2 May 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir tells the little-known story of Henry VIII’s fourth wife, as a grieving king chooses a bride sight unseen in the fourth novel in the epic and intrigue-filled Six Tudor Queens series.

Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to insure the royal succession. Now forty-six, overweight and unwell, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe’s most eligible princesses, but Anna of Kleve—a small German duchy—is twenty-four and eager to wed. Henry requests Anna’s portrait from his court painter, who enhances her looks, painting her straight-on in order not to emphasize her rather long nose. Henry is entranced by the lovely image, only to be bitterly surprised when Anna arrives in England and he sees her in the flesh. She is pleasant looking, just not the lady that Henry had expected.

What follows is a fascinating story of this awkward royal union that had to somehow be terminated tactfully. Alison Weir takes a fresh and surprising look at this remarkable royal marriage by describing it from the point of view of Queen Anna, a young woman with hopes and dreams of her own, alone in a royal court that rejected her from the day she arrived.

My thoughts..

This is the eagerly expected fourth volume of Alison Weir's epic series of novels about the six wives of Henry VIII. Anna of Kleve is perhaps the least well known of Henry's Queens as she was neither as sexy, nor as tragic, as his other spouses.

Any woman who accepted marriage to Henry VIII did so, in the knowledge of what had happened to her predecessors and I think the author shows the natural reticence of Anna of Kleve, especially in the way that she was manipulated by the men in her life, and yet, with an almost quiet determination, she succeeds where Henry's other Queens sadly didn't.

Realising the royal marriage wasn't working Anna was canny enough to understand that in order to keep her head and maintain a comfortable lifestyle she needed to submit to Henry's demands for a divorce. Of course, it wasn't all as straightforward as that and this book goes into intricate detail about Anna's life, from her young adulthood, at home in Kleve, to her short time as Henry's wife and her subsequent bizarre relationship as the king's 'beloved sister'.

As always the author writes with great authority and uses her considerable knowledge of the Tudor period in order to bring this enigmatic woman to life in a very believable way. The  hint of scandal in Anna's past, which the author alludes to,  is one that I wasn't overly familiar with, however, the author puts forward a very interesting interpretation of Anna's life which I found entirely plausible.

This has been such a fabulous series so far, and I think that this fictional version of Anna of Kleve's life has been absolutely fascinating. Her ability to survive and thrive and yet, always to keep on Henry's good side makes for compelling reading.

I have enjoyed this series about the first four wives of Henry VIII, and I'm already looking forward to reading of the life of, perhaps, Henry's most duplicitous Queen, Katheryn Howard.

Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian (and the fifth-bestselling historian overall) in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published eighteen history books, including her most recent non-fiction book, Queens of the Conquest, the first in her England’s Medieval Queens quartet. Alison has also published several historical novels, including Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth. Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets is Alison Weir’s ninth published novel and the fourth in the Six Tudor Queens series about the wives of Henry VIII, which was launched in 2016 to great critical acclaim. The first three books in the series – Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession and Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen were all Sunday Times bestsellers. Alison is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an honorary life patron of Historic Royal Palaces.

 Twitter @AlisonWeirBooks



Anna of Kleve : Queen of Secrets is published May 2nd 2019 by Headline Review 

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