All you ever wanted to know about Anne Boleyn – and possibly more. This biography goes into great detail about everything related to Anne Boleyn’s life, from her relationship with Henry VIII, the luxury items she owned to her views and influence on religion.
At times the momentum of the story gets bogged down in these minutiae, and I have to admit to skimming at times, especially when it came to lists of items owned by Anne and Henry. On the other hand, although naturally everyone knows what was coming, the chapters dealing with Anne’s downfall are positively thrilling, events culminating in one week during which she went from Queen and wife to accused adulteress awaiting trial for treason. As for the trial description, it wouldn’t be out of place in a Law & Order episode. For this alone the book is worth reading, painting a much more interesting picture than that Henry was simply tired of her and looking for a way to get rid of her.
If I thought in advance that her role in history has been overblown, considering the short while she was Queen (even counting the long years before Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon), this book proved me wrong. Because Ives is always careful to cite his sources, it’s hard to find fault with his overall reasonings, and it also makes it easy to see where his personal bias lies.
Considering the centuries separating us from her and the lack of first-hand accounts in the form of diaries or letters, we will never know what Anne Boleyn was really like as a person. Overall, I think this is the best biography we can expect – detailed, relatively balanced, creating a picture not just of her life but of the politics that ruled it.