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

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  213 ratings  ·  54 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, 621 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
It’s only in the past few years that I’ve really delved into England’s Stuart monarchs and their history, but it’s still surprising to me that until a few months ago, when I read Susan Holloway Scott’s Duchess, I had absolutely no idea that Queen Anne Stuart was a person. Absolutely none. But as the author of this biography, Anne Somerset explains, Queen Anne’s reign has been more or less written off by many historians—and not without reason. All the same, it was during Anne’s reign that England ...more
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?


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
It's difficult to think of another Monarch who suffered as much physical and emotional pain and trauma as Queen Anne. Often seen as the 'stop gap' before the Hanoverians came in, Anne so often gets overlooked. Often described as weak and easily manipulated by her "favourites" (Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham), it's about time Anne got some justice, and this book covers that quite well :). Although you still won't be able to stop viewing her in a pitiful light (could it even be possible consid ...more
Scott Jeffe
England's (and then Great Britain's) forgotten queen. No one thinks of Queen Anne (1701-1714) as a great queen because few people think of her at all. Those that know anything have heard that she was "managed" by her female favorites, most notably Sarah Churchill, duchess of Marlborough and ancestry of another great Churchill.

In fact Queen Anne actively presided over the government at a time of massive undertaking and great advancement in Britain's prestige. Her generals prevailed over Louis XI
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
Just A. Bean
It's certainly very detailed! As look at how politics worked as the UK was just starting to get the whole democracy thing going (kindasorta with a lot of wobbling on the way), it was excellent. I loved all the political detail and the back and forthing between parties, and various shenanigans they got up to trying to see how much power they really had (btw, it's still a monarchy: if you're consistently rude to the Queen, she's probably going to fire you).

As far as a biography of Anne went, I fee
Meticulous and well research biography of a turbulent time and a woman who never believed she would be Queen.
Anne Somerset wrote a very indepth biography on Queen Anne, but her subject was a difficult character. I found the time period interesting, but when the story focused on Anne, it seemed to always have her complaining. She never seemed grateful for what was done for her: Parliament increased her allowance, but she thought she deserved more; she was granted additional suites in palaces, but was unhappy that she could not have the ones that others occupied; peerages were granted to her backstabbing ...more
"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
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
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
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
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.
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
Pam Johnson
I hate to give the book two stars, because I think that the author did the best she could with the material. I particularly liked her analysis of the events, instead of just citing them. However, Queen Anne was a pretty dull woman and this book put me to sleep for a month.
Very long, very historical, very political, and very enlightening. A comprehensive biography of one of Great Britain's least known ruling Queens. This book is a slow moving read and not an easy one; it takes serious dedication. The author has done extensive research to shed new light on a largely misunderstood monarch. She was, indeed, a "so good and so wise a Queen."
Mary Ann
A terrific, detailed book on the reign of Queen Anne, the last of the Stuarts. I found Anne to be an unsympathetic figure until she became Queen. Her relationship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough makes me want to read more about Winston's ancestor.
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
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
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