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

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  364 Ratings  ·  70 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
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
May 07, 2014 Louise rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-bio-hist
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
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
Renae, Lady Disdain
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
Jan 21, 2013 Changeling72 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2013 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 17, 2014 Beth added it
Did not finish. Just too much without context and was repetive and boring.
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
Just A. Bean
Nov 13, 2014 Just A. Bean rated it liked it
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
Jun 10, 2015 Jodi rated it really liked it
Anne Somerset is a very thorough historical author and since Queen Anne is often an overlooked monarch by biographers, I was intrigued and anticipating this, what proved to be, excellent biography.

For the average reader this book would become a challenge for several reasons: it can be a bit dry; the political maneuvers (which I found fascinating) were exhaustively explained; and the seemingly endless cast of characters (referred to by name and titles at different times) can be hard to keep stra
Apr 22, 2014 Sara rated it it was ok
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
Sep 02, 2015 Katie rated it it was ok
Very, very detailed - almost too detailed - I gave up at page 200ish.

Despite this a huge disappointment! The people don't come alive. They still seem very 2 dimensional. I don't feel I know Anne at all, as for Sarah Churchill, she makes her comes across as a complete bitch, but she cannot have been, Sarah must have been hugely charismatic, given her passionate love from Anne - but I got absolutely no idea why/sense of it.

Only giving it 2 stars as it wasn't as awful as some of the books I have re
Jan 26, 2014 Rose rated it it was ok
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
Nov 27, 2016 Margaret rated it really liked it
This book is very much like the curate's egg - good in parts.

The book alternates from being extremely interesting to deeply boring. Mostly because the balance between the life of Queen Anne and the politics of her reign swings more towards the politics than her life, and that's not what I was expecting from a book that is billed as a "biography".

A 3.5 star read that is rounded up to four stars on the basis that I did actually learn something new from the book.
Dec 06, 2014 Ting rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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."
Jan 18, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meticulous and well research biography of a turbulent time and a woman who never believed she would be Queen.
Oct 17, 2014 James rated it it was amazing
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
C.S. Burrough
Apr 14, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it really liked it
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
Sharon Terry
Jul 25, 2016 Sharon Terry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
Queen Anne has always been a shadowy Royal, to me. I could never stand what was known as "Queen Anne" furniture, but I really knew nothing about her. This book makes it clear why, but manages to salvage and restore her reputation to the full.

I found myself getting quite bogged down in some of the details, mainly due to how these episodes were presented: the author persistently quotes from various sources to illustrate points and sometimes the language of these quotes is opaque, blurring their im
"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
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
Scott Jeffe
Oct 08, 2014 Scott Jeffe rated it really liked it
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
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
Sep 15, 2013 Whitney rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2013 Colin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
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
Lunacloud Moonspirit
This has taken me months to read. I started it to help my son with his homework. He handed his project in ages ago but I have carried on with this and I am very glad that I did.
Queen Anne was not a monarch I was familiar with. I found the book very interesting and it is impossible not to feel so very sorry for her as she had such a traumatic life. I was disgusted with her so called friends for the way they treated her. She must have been incredibly tolerant not to have executed a single one of
Dec 30, 2013 Doria rated it really liked it
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
Sep 30, 2013 Stacy rated it really liked it
Shelves: firstreads
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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