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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mrs Morley and her constant challenges
This is a remarkable, pacey and informative account of an overlooked life and its many challenges that leaves the reader wholly in sympathy with its subject. Privately known as `Mrs Morley', her life was dominated by feuds of the State - with her father James II and Jacobites over the Protestant versus Catholic faiths; questions of succession at the waning of the Stuart...
Published 18 months ago by Ed Crutchley

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3.0 out of 5 stars Solid biography of a neglected monarch
This is a very detailed biography of Queen Anne, a monarch who, to date, has been largely invisible to history. Certainly the period from the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 to Queen Anne's death in 1714 is not taught in schools. As,over this period,Great Britain came into being with the union of Scotland with the English crown in 1707, the period might be more relevant...
Published 6 months ago by markb


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mrs Morley and her constant challenges, 22 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion (Paperback)
This is a remarkable, pacey and informative account of an overlooked life and its many challenges that leaves the reader wholly in sympathy with its subject. Privately known as `Mrs Morley', her life was dominated by feuds of the State - with her father James II and Jacobites over the Protestant versus Catholic faiths; questions of succession at the waning of the Stuart era; constant acrimony and polarisation between Whigs and Tories. The author explains how, as queen, Anne tried to avoid being perceived as settling too much in any one political camp by appointing ministers from both. She lived through the reigns of her uncle, father, and then elder sister, Mary. There was the constant potential rivalry for her throne or succession from her half-brother, living outside Paris at Saint Germain-en-Laye (under the protection of her arch-enemy in the Wars of Succession, Louis XIV). She lived in a different age, one of sedan chairs, smallpox, and military campaigns that only took place between spring and autumn, and she even used to hold sessions where she touched her subjects smitten by scrofula. At any time she could dissolve Parliament for which only 10% of the electorate had the vote, and which met only five months a year. She found she could appoint peers en masse in order to bump up her strength for a critical vote in Parliament. Her reign saw many occurrences that defined the centuries to follow - the contested union with Scotland; emergence of the Bank of England; free press; the first daily newspaper, the Courant; an emerging national debt. It saw the rise of Churchill to become the Duke of Marlborough, the Battles of Blenheim and Ramillies, and the capture of Gibraltar. On a personal level, she suffered constant bullying from Sarah Churchill (`Mrs Freeman'), for a long time her best friend and confidant. She was surrounded by never-ending public squabbles over access to her confidence and the intricacies of close relationships, especially with Abigail Masham, nee Hill, a woman of her bedchamber. She underwent seventeen pregnancies, with no issue surviving beyond ten years, and suffered from physical health problems and obesity (she loved chocolates), all temporarily abated by visits to take the waters at Tunbridge Wells or Bath. Her loves were her horticulture, hunting, horses (she had a stud at Newmarket), and not least her husband (after whose death she mourned for two years).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first Queen of Great Britain, 8 May 2012
By 
Amelrode (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
It is quite some time since I have read "Queen Anne" by Edward Gregg. So I was happy that Anne Somerset took on this project and had a fresh look on Anne, her personality and her politics.

The the picture she prodcued of this last Stuart monarch - not talking about the so-called "de jure" monarchs - is more varied than the previous one. Anne was not the all to be willing manipulated person through emotional attachments. She could be quite ruthless and persuing her own agenda like she did when she defended her position in the succession.

The conflict between Tories and Whigs dominated her reign. It was interesting to see how this split the country in two quite warfaring parties. very interesting the story how the union of England and Scotland came about.

Her friendship with the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough is a key element of it. It is good that Anne Somerset puts it more into perspective and does not just views it from the point of view of the Duchess. It proves that the Marlboroughs "abused" friendship in order to get what they wanted. Mixing friendship and work - well never a good idea. Just reading about the constant nagging of the duchess leaves one quite exhausted. It is for me rather a wonder that Queen Anne supported that for such a long time.

All in all, a pretty good book, at times a wee bit to long an too detailed, but it paints a pretty accurate picture of the lives and times of this "forgotten" Queen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great History and a Great Read, 26 Aug 2013
By 
Curt (Springfield,Illinois) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion (Paperback)
It is refreshing to read new scholarship about Queen Anne, last of the Stuart Monarchs. She is a little remembered but important. Good biographies of Queen Anne are few and far between. Those that have been published have been slanted due to relying on the biased and self-serving letters and diaries of the Queen's contemporaries. Anne Somerset has set the record straight in this work, and in a fashion that is immensely readable. I recommend this book to anyone who would like to know more about the remarkable monarch and this strategically important, but often forgotten period of history.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion, 1 Feb 2012
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
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Anne Somerset has written some excellent historical biographies and, in this latest effort, she turns her attention to Queen Anne. This is an exhaustive and well researched biography about a woman who never thought she would become Queen. Her father, James, Duke of York, was the younger brother of Charles II. When he secretly married a woman already pregnant and not of royal blood, it caused a scandal that Charles II, who had only fairly recently regained the throne his father lost, was deeply unhappy with. Luckily for Anne, Charles refused her fathers suggestion that his daughter Anne be beheaded, and took her side eventually. After a difficult start, James and Anne had two daughters, Mary and Anne. Having no living boy, and with Charles II childless, James re-married when he was widowed in that desperate search for an heir. James eventually became King and, if she hoped to ever inherit the throne, Anne had to make a choice between her father's wish that she become a Catholic, or remain a Protestant as the people would not trust a Catholic monarch.

This book looks at the marriage of Anne's sister Mary to William of Orange and her own marriage to the compatible, amiable and devoted Prince George of Denmark. There is a terrible and tragic account of births, miscarriages, stillbirths, phantom pregnancies and early deaths. Anne herself endured pregnancy after pregnancy in her attempt to produce a healthy child and, when her father's wife had a healthy son, she was so horrified that she believed the rumours that the baby was an imposter who had been smuggled into the palace in a warming pan.

During the whole of this book there is political turmoil, much related to the issue of the succession. William of Orange's invasion, Anne's political desertion of her father, the constant friction between Protestants and Catholics, almost endless wars, the Whigs and Tories, political infighting, Jacobite plots and intrigue abound. However, where this book comes alive is in Anne's personal relationships, most notably with her sister Mary and her favourites, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and later, Sarah's cousin Abigail. Her deep love and friendship for the, somewhat sly and malicious Sarah, ended in recrimination and threats. It is almost painful to read their letters and the glee with which Sarah refers to Anne as "that thing" and worse in hysterical outbursts that still shock so many years later in their sheer vitriol.

In many ways, Anne comes across as a sad and friendless person with little to cling to. Her husband, although caring, was often side-lined and her need for an heir overwhelmed her. When Anne did become Queen, she faced huge challenges persuading her subjects that the Act of Settlement was safe in her hands. There were worries that her Catholic half-brother, the Pretender, was poised to reclaim his inheritance and many feared civil war. She was horrified at the prospect of her unloved and distant Hanoverian cousins residing in England during her lifetime, yet had no closer, protestant family to leave the Crown. She indulged political prejudices, often allowed private quarrels to impinge on state affairs and had great passion for her favourites. Yet, she also strove to preserve the political equilibrium, believed strongly in her ability to lead her country and ultimately tried to bring peace to her people. This is a very interesting account of a turbulent time and of a woman who rose to the challenge when she became Queen and was, ultimately, a successful monarch. Lastly, I read the kindle edition of this book and the illustrations were included.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive portrait of a largely forgotten Queen, 15 Nov 2012
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Sandwiched between William and Mary and the Hanoverian succession, Queen Anne does not exactly shine down through the ages which is a great pity and something this book seeks to remedy - and does so admirably. Her intimate, Lady Marlborough, comes across as a patronising, vindictive harridan but Anne does not see this until almost the very end of her life. This, combined with her almost annual miscarriages, still born children and the loss of all her children who survived birth should have sent her mad but she maintained her dignity throughout. A real page-turner and highly recommended.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entire and Perfect Union, 28 Feb 2012
By 
B. M. Lester (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Anne Somerset is on her usual magnifcant form dealing with a difficult subject. Queen Anne was not the most physically attractive of our monarchs. The last of the Stuarts, her reign was beset with problems of the succession, religous schism, political faction and war in Europe. Queen Anne did her best to cope with all these problems.

Anne Somerset's analysis of how Queen Anne tries to deal with all these problems is based on meticulous research and explained in her own delightful style.

We feel for Queen Anne - 17 pregnancies yet no child who survived her. The consequence was the Hanovarian succession and the Act of Union.

One of the most compelling themes of the book is Queen Anne's relationships with Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham. Somerset comments that Queen Anne's reign was bloodless; no one was executed for treason. I think Queen Anne made a mistake there.

Even if you don't like history, read and enjoy this excellent book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Solid biography of a neglected monarch, 16 Jun 2014
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This is a very detailed biography of Queen Anne, a monarch who, to date, has been largely invisible to history. Certainly the period from the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 to Queen Anne's death in 1714 is not taught in schools. As,over this period,Great Britain came into being with the union of Scotland with the English crown in 1707, the period might be more relevant given the contemporary campaign for Scottish independence.

Anne Somerset reveals Anne's life and times largely through intensive scrutiny of her letters and of relationships at her court. This includes an analysis of her stormy relationship with Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. The period was an eventful one in which the map of Europe was being redrawn. The reader is introduced to the birth of party politics. Anne's heart was with the Tories but she recognised the importance to government of being able to maintain alliances with the Whigs. Somerset is good on painting the roguish personalities on both sides of the party divide. Readers are also offered a bed-side seat as Anne's heath steadily declines through a lengthy history of miscarriage and disabling gout. Somerset is particularly good on the medical details and the limited treatments available at the time.

Anne emerges as a woman complete with the prejudices of her time, but as a more astute politician than perhaps has been recognised previously.

This is very much biography and the story of the great and the good living in and around the London court. Readers interested in a broader picture of the period and how London politics influenced life in the provinces, Ireland or in the colonies would need to look elsewhere. The book is a solid and informative read for the reader prepared to persist with the level of intricate personal detail offered by Somerset.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different Queen Anne, 1 July 2012
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This book gives us a very different view of Queen Anne. A more personal, human and thoughtful account of this important Monarch. The fact that she did her best to be a good Queen while being pushed about and manipulated by many of those around her - including a succession of so-called friends. All the while dealing with over whelming tragedy and grief. In the end the books leaves you sad that she was abused in such a terrible manner and amazed that she did keep going in the face of such private pain and loss. A well written and absorbing account. Well balance between compassion and fact. I really enjoyed this - a compelling read, not like a history book at all.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation, 14 May 2014
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A beautiful book. This highly researched, but not "dry as dust", biography of Great Britain's 'forgotten Queen' flows effortlessly from beginning to end. It is an account of a woman in a mysoginist society who is beset by chronic ill health, the utter despair of numerous failed pregnancies and to have her only surviving child die at the age of twelve, having a much loved husband die, and then to try and steer a middle course between the viciousness of the warring Parliamentary political parties. As well as all that there was a Continental war to be won (resulting, amongst other gains, with the acquisition of Gibraltar), her determination to unite Scotland and England, resulting in Great Britain. To add gilt to the gingerbread she had to endure the animosity of the prize Bitch-of-all-Time, the Duchess of Marlborough. This quiet, shy, ungainly but totally determined Queen was driven by a sense of duty to the country.

Finishing reading this book was similar to saying "au revoir" to a good friend
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Queen, 11 Feb 2012
By 
Sean (Lancashire England) - See all my reviews
I have read other books by Anne Somerset and this is of the same high standard. It is detailed and very well researched. I suspect the two facts most widely known about Queen Anne are that the Union of England and Scotland occurred during her reign and that she suffered the loss of many children.

Whilst the book gives us a comprehensive overview of the difficult and shifting politics of the reign, its greatest strength is the portrait it gives us of Anne herself. A woman of limited education and experience and painfully shy, what the book proves beyond doubt is that she tried to be the best monarch she could in the interests of the people and that in that aim she largely succeeded. Despite chronic illhealth and much tragedy in her life Anne always put her duties first. At the same time she suffered merciless bullying at the hands of her supposed friend the Duchess of Marlborough and bore with this patiently for many years.

It would be hard to read this book without feeling great compassion and admiration for perhaps the only largely successful Stuart monarch. Also it is worth noting that she was one of the most English monarchs by blood ever to reign, being the daughter of Anne Hyde an English lady. I was left with the strong feeling that if only Anne could have reigned longer and produced an heir the course of history would have been better served.
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Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion
Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset (Paperback - 13 Sep 2012)
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