Hannah's Reviews > The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn

The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir
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Nov 25, 2009

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bookshelves: historicals, 2010-reads, non-fiction
Recommended for: Tudor history buffs

In this non-fiction book (her 5th on the Tudors), Weir zeros in on the last 3 months of the life of Anne Boleyn, arguably the most fascinating of Henry VIII's six wives. Anne, as most English history buffs know, was beheaded after failing to produce the one and only thing desired of a royal spouse - a living son - but there was much, much more to her story then her inability to bare an heir. Weir expands on the last days of Anne, and covers information not available in her former book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. We see the machinations of Anne's detractors and enemies to bring about the desired end result. How Henry, who once desired her enough to bring down the foundations of the Catholic Church in England to have her, now cast her aside on the belief of trumped up charges of adultery, incest and treason.

Weir is a prodigious researcher, and although she (like many other researchers) has her headstrong pet theories and noted biases, I can always count on her to serve up a well written, well documented and interesting dish on the lives, loves, triumphs and foibles of the long deceased greats from English history - especially those rascally, larger then life Tudors.

Under Weir's deft hand, you gain a deeper understanding for the motivations (good and bad) of the noted personalities of the day: Henry, Cromwell, Mary, The Duke of Norfolk, and Lord Rochford. Weir lays out at the end some of the ramifications of Anne's demise with respect to her surviving child, Elizabeth, who went on to become one of England's most beloved, influential and brilliant monarchs.

Not her best work (which is why I only gave it 3 stars), the book does have periods of dry, dull exposition in the middle section. However, the beginning and the end were excellent, riveting and well worth the time.
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Barb (new)

Barb Oooh - this looks interesting, I had to add it to my TBR!


Hannah Barb wrote: "Oooh - this looks interesting, I had to add it to my TBR!"

Hi Barb!
I found the first part interesting, the middle section a bit dull and dry, and the end was really good.


message 3: by Arlene (new)

Arlene I love Anne Boleyn's story!! Agreed, she is the most fascinating of all the wives, but I did like the young Katherine Howard too. Mary, her sister is mentioned? Can't really find too much about that girl. She intrigued me after reading the Other Boleyn Girl. Hmm, this sounds like a good one. Great review.


message 4: by Hannah (last edited Apr 19, 2010 10:27AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hannah Arlene wrote: "I love Anne Boleyn's story!! Agreed, she is the most fascinating of all the wives, but I did like the young Katherine Howard too. Mary, her sister is mentioned? Can't really find too much about th..."

This wasn't the best Weir's ever done, but the beginning and end were interesting. You like Katherine Howard? She's my least favorite wife - lol! Such a young, silly girl! I think after Anne, I like Katherine of Aragon and then Katherine Parr.

You ought to read Gregory's: The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory.
It's about Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Jane Boleyn (Anne Boleyn's sister-in-law).

Also good is Plaidy's: Murder Most Royal (Tudor Saga, #5) by Jean Plaidy.

And probably the best compillation of Henry's 6 wives is: The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser

I love me some Tudor history :)

EDIT: The Mary in question was Henry VIII's daughter, not Anne Boleyn's sister. I do have a book in my TBR pile that deals with Mary Boleyn:
The Last Boleyn A Novel by Karen Harper


message 5: by Arlene (new)

Arlene LOL, I came to like Katherine Howard after reading The Boleyn Inheritance. Very true, she was so young and silly, but I think that's what I loved most about her. I can't belive (if it's really true) she asked them to bring her the scaffold so she could practice her be-heading. So young and innocent, my heart went out to her.

I will definitely check out the other two books. Right now I'm compiling a stack of books on greek mythology and roman history. I think that's the new genres I'm going to focus on in the coming months, plus I still want to read about 5 classics this year, one of which will be War and Peace. Eeeek! Wish me luck. :)


Hannah Arlene wrote: "LOL, I came to like Katherine Howard after reading The Boleyn Inheritance. Very true, she was so young and silly, but I think that's what I loved most about her. I can't belive (if it's really true..."

Yeah, I do feel sorry for her. She was just an immature teen and her and her uncle pimped her out to an old, gross man who happened to be king. She certainly didn't have a very good upbringing, and I can see why she was unprepared for the role of Queen. Stupid men thinking with their little head instead of their big head - aarrggghh. Some things never change...

Your reading list is very impressive! I think the only "classics" I'm going to try and work in is Dracula around Halloween and A Christmas Carol around Christmas (never read either one). Good luck with yours - I know you'll be able to do it!


message 7: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Hannahr wrote: "Arlene wrote: "LOL, I came to like Katherine Howard after reading The Boleyn Inheritance. Very true, she was so young and silly, but I think that's what I loved most about her. I can't belive (if i..."


Agreed, her uncle was an arse, that also contributed to my compassion for her. She was so young and by that time the king sounded gross and disgusting. She had all these delusions that he would be grand and perfect for her... NOT! Poor girl.

Well, if I can finish War and Peace I'll be really happy. That will be my biggest reading challenge this year. Sounds hokey, huh? hahaha :)


Hannah Arlene wrote: "Well, if I can finish War and Peace I'll be really happy. That will be my biggest reading challenge this year. Sounds hokey, huh?..."

Hokey? Definitely not.
Impressive? Most definitely YES!


message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather Hannah, have you watched "The Tudors"? It's very good, and tries to be historically accurate, though, because it is on Showtime, I believe they are a little, uh liberal. But after seeing that love chair that I still don't know how to work, perhaps the show's creator has it right. Anywho, I have always been fascinated by Anne Boleyn, so cunning, and yet not, as her conniving lead to her own misfortune. But women's lives were dependent upon the whims of their men, so I respected her for making the most of what she had.

Agree with you on the wives too. 1st Divorced, 1st Beheaded, and the only to survive :).

P.S. like the review.


message 10: by Hannah (last edited Apr 20, 2010 10:03AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hannah Heather wrote: "Hannah, have you watched "The Tudors"? It's very good, and tries to be historically accurate..."

I don't get Showtime, and I haven't put it on my Netflix Q. Good, huh? I love Jeremy Northam (I think he plays Cromwell in it). One day I'll get around to watching it. Aren't they up to season 3?

I think Anne B. fascinates most people, since she really was ahead of her time, and a real departure from what was expected from an "obedient" wife. I like Katherine Parr because she was older, very intelligent, extremely kind to Henry's 3 children, and probably had one of the toughest times with Henry because he was sickly and cranky and watched her every move and every word she spoke. She was walking a tightrope, and might have easily gotten beheaded had Henry not died before her. And then she proved just how vulnerable she was by marrying the smooth talking man she loved years earlier (Thomas Seymour). He betrayed her, and she was probably very disillusioned as she lay dying after childbirth.


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