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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Biography Of Henry VIII's Least Known Wife, 30 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII's Discarded Bride (Paperback)
Anne of Cleves, the seldom talked about and often ridiculed fourth wife of Henry VIII of England has been a woman who has long fascinated me. Rarely is there much written about her except to say that her unconsummated marriage to Henry lasted only six months and that the King (no dazzling young specimum himself by the time of their marriage) found her physically unattractive and refused to sleep with her. Anne has always had a raw deal from historians in my belief and most often they seemed content to merely repeat the same often told stories about her before passing onto Henry's next wife the young and giddy Katherine Howard. I was thrilled to see that finally a proper full length biography was being published on Anne that merely didn't relegate her to merely being "No 4" on the long list of Henry VIII's unfortunate wives. Lacking the high profile of a Katherine of Aragon or the controversial appeal of an Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves at first glance might seem an uninsipiring topic for a histoical biography however her life had many ups and downs and certainly didn't lack interest. Elizabeth Norton's biography while lacking in detail and in many parts only skimming the surface of Anne's real character and motivations does however for once throw proper attention on this unusual young Flemish lady who found herself suddenly thrust into the terrifying matrimonial spotlight of Tudor England. Often neglected by historians Anne I believe was an incredibly courageous and intelligent woman who learned very quickly how to survive in the world of her very frightening and unpredictable husband and later self styled "good brother". Her life makes a fascionating read and Norton's book is a good start on learning more about Anne of Cleves.

While the book makes a very handsome addition to anyone's Tudor history book collection I found it lacking somewhat in certain details and areas. There are 32 pages of illustrations in the book and while the part of Anne's life lived in England was well chronicled with gorgeous colour portraits of many of the important individuals of the time( although one portrait listed as being of Elizabeth I is actually incorrectly labelled), and also includes photos of her surviving homes such as the remaining portions of Richmond Palace, Hever Castle, Bletchingly Palace, and the "Anne of Cleves House" I thought it strange that no part of Anne's Flemish upbringing was represented. I would have liked to have seen included a clear map of where Cleves is located and some photos of any still existing residences that Anne may have known and grown up in prior to her fateful journey to England as Henry VIII's fourth wife. Also the reproductions in the book of the two best known portraits of Anne herself are very disappointing and are strangely only reproduced in black and white. The famous Holbein portrait now located in the Louvre in Paris which really decided the future direction of Anne's life certainly deserved a full page colour reproduction in my belief. Also it would have been a nice touch to include a portrait of Hans Holbein himself in the photo section as he also played a most important role in the direction that Anne's life took as a prospective bride for England's much married monarch Henry VIII.
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