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Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions Hardcover – 6 Apr 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (6 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300162456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300162455
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 413,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

`It is brilliantly argued, sometimes exhaustingly so, but it will reward those who come to it with an open mind.' --Linda Porter, History Today, June 2010

`A close-up, fine-focus retelling of dysfunctional royal family history.'
--Patrick Skene Catling, Irish Times, 24th May 2010

`...a book whose accessible style will mean that most readers, like this one, will devour it in a single setting.'
--Alexander Lucie-Smith, Catholic Herald, 14th May 2010

About the Author

George Bernard is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Southampton, and Editor of the English Historical Review. His most recent book was 'The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church' (Yale, 2005). His earlier books include 'Power and Politics in Tudor England' (2007) and 'Studying at University' (2003).

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 1 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bernard's revisionary view of Anne Boleyn revolves around three arguments:

a) that Anne wasn't particularly religious and had little to do with the Reformation;
b) that it was Henry who withheld from a full sexual relationship with Anne for five or so years until they could be decently married;
c) that Anne really did sleep with the five men with whom she was accused of committing adultery, including her brother.

It has to be said that the evidence to support these positions is a little fragile, to say the least, so this book is primarily based in interpretation.

I don't know enough about the religious context to accept or fully reject the first point. But that it was Henry who refused to sleep with Anne for about five years doesn't feel convincing. Bernard suggests that Henry was so concerned about only having sex within marriage so that any children would be free from the stain of illegitimacy - but that assumes that from the moment he saw Anne, Henry knew that he wanted to marry her. His letters to Anne (from the late 20s) as well as his previous and later behaviour with other women don't really support this. Henry, as king of England, doesn't appear to have been a man used to or even wanting to restrain any of his appetites, and on Anne's first arrival at the English court she was just another attractive girl for him to consume. Why would he then hold himself back?

The third proposition that Anne really was stupid enough to commit serial adultery in the face of the public court equally doesn't really stand up, in my view. Bernard's `evidence' here is a single poem written after the events. To believe this, we would also have to believe that Anne took her first lover, Mark Smeaton, just a month after having given birth to Elizabeth in 1533.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tudor Mary on 16 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had imagined that this book would uncover some interesting new "evidence" that would challenge our version of events. Written a kind of investigative journalism style it is interesting and entertaining to read and certainly it is good mental excercise to have old truths challenged but ultimately many of his arguments are fairly farfetched and purely speculative. There simply is no really new "evidence" We have to live with the simple fact that given that most of the material about Anne's trial was destroyed in the Elizabethan age and is 500 years old anyway our knowledge of the facts is limited. I also got the feeling that this could have been written as an essay but has been strung out as far as possible to fill a book.
Worth reading definitely but not a "groundbreaking biography"
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Rumpuscat on 25 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read many books about Anne Boleyn I was looking forward to this as it promised to be 'a groundbreaking new biography'... but there was no new material, only the same stuff with the author's personal interpretation which was, indeed, different. Having expressed his disagreement with others' interpretations (including Eric Ives and Retha Warnicke) seemingly because of their overuse of such phrases as 'maybe...' and 'It was possibly...' Professor Bernard follows with his own version, full of 'Let us imagine...' and 'It would surely have been...'.

Although there is an extensive set of notes and bibliography, the author relies heavily on two sources - the letters of the Imperial Ambassador, Eustache Chapuys, and a poem by Lancelot de Carles. We know that Chapuys was extremely antagonistic to Anne but I'm not aware of de Carles' attitude. The output of each seems to have been swallowed whole and regurgitated here by Bernard.

The discussion of portraits was shallow and the suggestion that the well-known picture of Anne (used on the book jacket) is really of Henry's sister Mary is laughable. For a good in-depth discussion of the Anne portraits, read Eric Ives's version.

Bernard finishes his last chapter 'Was Anne Guilty?' with the following:

'...And so it remains my own hunch that Anne had indeed committed adultery...'

Sorry, Professor, not good enough, as I'm sure you would tell your students.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs average on 12 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback
I would suggest anyone interested in finding out about Anne Boleyn should choose another book as this author loses all credibility with weak argument and inaccuracies about something as straight forward as Anne's execution date.
I understand George Bernard is a professor at Southhampton University, something I find shocking given he can present this as a serious biography and ask anyone to take his conclusions seriously.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kokino on 29 Sept. 2012
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This is a very well written and challenging book. Thought provoking in that it charges the reader to consider their views of the character and life of Anne Boleyn and whether she was 100% innocent of the accusations against her.

Although the book did not affect my personal opinion on the innocence of Anne Boleyn - I believe that she was almost certainly framed - G W Bernard argues that there is space for some reasonable doubt. He puts forward his case concisely and intelligently.

'Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions' is a book that goes against the grain and is refreshing for that fact. This book is engrossing and a great read. The chapter on the portraits of Anne is particularly intriguing. Bernard displays an objectivity that is also welcome. Some of the ground has already been well covered by other writers, but Bernard engages the reader and the book is never dull.

Certainly worth reading and adding to any serious collection on this most captivating and elusive of historical figure's.

Highly recommended.
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