Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion
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Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  38 reviews
She ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1702, at age thirty-seven, Britain’s last Stuart monarch, and five years later united two of her realms, England and Scotland, as a sovereign state, creating the Kingdom of Great Britain. She had a history of personal misfortune, overcoming ill health (she suffered from crippling arthritis; by the time she became...more
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
There are some lines from Rob Roy, an historical drama directed by Michael Caton-Jones, which are forever preserved in my mind. Set in Scotland during the reign of Queen Anne, the duke of Argyll laments to the duke of Montrose “would she had seen a child live to comfort the kingdom”. To this Montrose responds “One might have hoped that a field so often ploughed might have yielded one good crop. In truth, I have seen healthier graveyards than that woman's womb.”

Poor Queen Anne, that’s her own ob...more
Shelley
Fabulous, amazing, thorough, engaging biography of a woman I didn't really know much about. Until I read a review of QUEEN ANNE in the London Review of Books, I never would have thought of purchasing this (I had to hunt down a UK seller, because it's not available in the US), and investing the (many) hours it took to finish it.

Very glad I did, though. Anne Somerset takes us from James II's near-disastrous marriage to Anne Hyde (a commoner), the mother of Queen Mary and Queen Anne, to the Gloriou...more
Louise
This very well researched bio has two parts, necessitated by the two roles of Anne. First is her childhood and youth with the most important aspect being how Anne and her sister Mary were raised to be dedicated Protestants. This youth and Protestant zeal extends into Anne’s participation in her father’s abdication which led to her sister’s reign and then her own. Once she is Queen Anne, this becomes a very different book.

In the first part you get a feel for Anne. She is highly dependent on and l...more
Lolly's Library
I'll be honest. I have very little interest in the English monarchs of the Stuart period. I'm more interested in those that came before, the Tudors, and those that came after, the Georgians. The most I knew of Queen Anne was that she was the daughter of James II, and so got caught in the middle of the Catholic/Protestant tug-of-war; she was the sister of Queen Mary, whose husband, William of Orange, invaded the country and bloodlessly took the throne from James; she had multiple (and I do mean m...more
Dara
I didn't finish this book, which is rare for me since I try to never abandon a book. But some books need to be shelved, and in my opinion this is one. I got to page 117 and decided enough is enough. In reading about a woman who was Queen of England but suffered tremendous personal losses (for example, she buried all 18 of her children), I was just angry all the time, not at Queen Anne but at the author. I just couldn't take any more of Somerset inserting her personal opinion of Queen Anne's pers...more
Christie
The opening weeks of the year 1665 were particularly cold, and the sub-zero temperatures had discourages the King of England, Charles II, from writing to his sister Henrietta in France.

Queen Anne is one of the lesser known queens of England. When people think of English Queens Elizabeth I, Victoria, Bloody Mary, and Queen Elizabeth II spring to mind over Queen Anne. But Queen Anne deserves her due, having kept the monarchy in Protestant hands after her father converted to Catholicism, leading t...more
Mark Lancaster
Queen Anne was the last of the Stuart monarch's, dying childless at the age of 49 despite seventeen pregnancies, and succeeded by the House of Hanover. I think most people have heard of Queen Anne, but I think she is largely a neglected monarch, known largely for the style of architecture and furniture of her reign, rather than herself as an individual! She might not have been the most intellectual of monarchs, but Somerset's detailed biography paints the portrait of a deeply passionate and cons...more
Beth
Jan 17, 2014 Beth added it
Did not finish. Just too much without context and was repetive and boring.
Shawn Thrasher
Queen Anne is sort of this big cow of a woman, not only because she was obese (maybe she was the fattest British monarch?) but because reading about her was sort of like watching a big old cow chew its cud in a field. If you've never, ever seen a cow before, watching a cow chew its cud in a field is wildly interesting at the beginning. But soon you realize the cow isn't actually going to do anything, and the novelty wears off. If you LOVE cows, then the cow will remain infinitely interesting. Bu...more
Cleo
"She ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1702, at age thirty-seven, Britain’s last Stuart monarch, and five years later united two of her realms, England and Scotland, as a sovereign state, creating the Kingdom of Great Britain. She had a history of personal misfortune, overcoming ill health (she suffered from crippling arthritis; by the time she became Queen she was a virtual invalid) and living through seventeen miscarriages, stillbirths, and premature births in seventeen...more
C S Burrough
Jul 25, 2014 C S Burrough rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History readers
Excellent biography of a monarch often written off as 'too dull' by fans of the more popular icons, such as Tudors, etc.

In fact, as we see in this well documented account, Queen Anne had her idiosyncrasies, increasingly apparent throughout her life. Anne Somerset painstakingly draws out for us a studied portrait of a woman of distinct character.

Stolid, at times timid and withdrawn, at others formidably strident, Anne had a good heart and a wise head on her shoulders. Usually kept well cordoned o...more
Jaylia3
This long but fascinating biography is a very thorough account of the life and times of Great Britain’s Queen Anne. I somehow knew almost nothing about this era, the late 1600’s and early 1700’s, but Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion convincingly presents it as pivotal. As the last Stuart monarch Anne’s birth was just after the overthrow of the Cromwells and the restoration of the monarchy. The Stuart line held the throne between the Tudors and the Hanover Georges that preceded Victoria, and i...more
Ruth
I had my eyes on this book ever since it was going to be published in the UK, and I had to wait over a year to get hold of it. Well, was it worth it?

YES!!

Queen Anne has always been massively neglected as a monarch. She was the last Stuart monarch, and by the time she ascended to the throne, knew that it would be passed out of her family. She was the last, and when her husband died, she was truly alone. She had never been educated to be monarch, was politically isolated at various times of her li...more
Amy
Billed as a biography of England's Queen Anne, the queen who followed William and Mary after the Glorious Revolution, it is really a story of England throughout a tumultuous period. Beginning with the restoration of Anne's uncle, Charles II, the book continues through Anne's death in 1715. Readers gain a greater than textbook understanding of the political situation of the times. For example, the Glorious Revolution was neither glorious nor bloodless like textbooks make it out to be. Also, we se...more
Whitney
I won this is the Goodreads First Reads program. I was very pleased to win a copy as it was on my to read list, and I really enjoy Anne Somerset's books. She seems to have written a different perspective of Queen Anne than the Duchess of Marlborough, who was a close friend of Anne's until she became queen and they grew apart because of the Duchess' behavior. She wrote terrible things in her memoirs about the queen that Somerset often contradicts in her book. Somerset does not try to make Anne pe...more
Colin
A book about the last of the Stuart monarchs, Queen Anne, born 06/02/1665-died 01/08/1714, reigned 08/03/1702-01/08/1714.The period covers a time of change-along with her older sister Mary, who married William of Orange, they heralded in a new regime, deposing their Catholic father, James II (of England & Ireland) & VII (of Scotland), of the throne. However, Mary & William, and then in her own reign Anne, hardly heralded in a brave new world of religious freedom. Persecution of non-c...more
Rose
Queen Anne was much more than Sarah Churchill's best friend. Nice coverage of the entwined politics of the day. However, on page 522 the author refers to Lord Cornbury as governor of Pennsylvania (when a little research would have shown her that he was governor of New York and New Jersey) and repeats the tale of his cross-dressing (pretty well exploded by Patricia Bonomi - NY Historical society has retitled the painting formerly thought to be of Cornbury). Carelessness like this makes me wonder...more
Kristine Hicken
I could recommend this book only to people have an interest in either Queen Anne or the period. It is deals with Queen Anne's relationship with the Duchess of Marlborough and some deep politics of the time. I did not find Queen Anne to be a particularly interesting person although she reigned at a pivotal time in English political history.
Catherine
Queen Anne seems a bit of a dud - plain, obese, ill-educated and a dim bulb - all good reasons why she hasn't merited much attention. However, this excellently-researched book creates lots of sympathy for the poor queen by illuminating the vicious, divisive politics of the period - one wonders how sovereigns survived. In the subsequent 300 years politics have changed very little. I was struck by the similarities between the ideological hysteria of the Whigs and Tories in Anne's governments and t...more
Doria
A fine specimen of royal biography, meticulously researched and replete with first person quotes. Somerset does a smashing job of having her subject - and her subject's subjects - speak for themselves wherever possible, and she takes full advantage of the tremendous richness of sources available to her in understanding the complex politics of Queen Anne's reign. The author clearly has a certain human sympathy for the last Stuart monarch of England, but is fully alive to her many faults and weakn...more
Stacy
I won this book as a FirstRead.

Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion is a thorough biography of the last Stuart monarch, including many quotes from letters written by Anne and her contemporaries. I really enjoyed learning about her life, though I couldn't imagine going through some of the tragedies she endured. This was definitely an impartial look into her life. At times, I felt sorry for her for the way she was treated by her "friends," and at times, I was aghast at the way she treated those aro...more
Brett
Interesting woman, interesting times, absolutely authoritative in its detail - possibly on occasion, a little more minutely detailed than is strictly necessary, at least for the casual armchair historian.
Trent
You really have to like British history--and specifically 17th and 18th century British history--to like this book. It's heavy going at times even for someone like me who is interested.
If this review makes you want to buy the book, then please do so at a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and not online.
Lezley
This book took a long time to read as it's not an exciting page-turner but an analysis of the intricate politics of the times forcing your complete concentration throughout. The author seems to be portraying a Queen who has more political savvy than she has been previously been accredited with and, as with Elizabeth I, is tormented over her future successor, her half brother or the Hanover Electors. I believe the author also makes it clear the Queen was not a puppet of the women of her bedchambe...more
Elizabeth Webber
I won this book through First Reads and I am so glad I did!

I have long been interested in this time period and blood line. Somerset's well researched and entertaining account in Queen Anne helped me feel like I was right in her midst. I am amazed at how many historical anecdotes were in these pages. Nothing was left out, which made this a hefty, but worthwhile, read. I feel both entertained and more knowledgeable. Wonderful! I have an early copy of the book and look forward to seeing the finishe...more
Ruth
Bickering political parties. Zealous religious factions in government. Who will be the next ruler? War over who will rule in a foreign country. This is English government in the early 1700's, the government the colonies came to rebel against. Sound familiar?
Pam
Anne is known mainly for her seventeen pregnancies and no children living to adulthood, and her relationship with the Duke of Marlborough's(Blenheim) wife. This is a shame as she comes across as a very dedicated sovereign, strong about doing her duty to the Protestant country and having to struggle with very opposing parliamentarians, the Whigs and the Tories. The British Isles became United under her leadership. She also had to put up with very poor health. Cute paintings of her as a child.
Lauren
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed this biography and learned a lot that I hadn't known about Anne. While full of great primary source material, it did feel a little long and got bogged down in the same, recurring political & personal storylines. I also felt as though the author felt the need to first present the incorrect assumptions about Anne or a particular event and then refute them. Overall though, it was very interesting and the writing, with a great blending-in of quotes, was good.
Peter
While I'm less than enthusiastic about the Stuart Dynasty, Somerset's book on the last of the line was fascinating. Through her research, she's dug up some gems about Anne's life that before had never been put to paper. She was a true rebel against family and societal expectations, and a real iconoclast of monarchy.
Sarah
Pretty good, it was very interesting and taught me a lot I didn't know about Queen Anne. It was very long, and sometimes dragged, but overall it was very good.
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