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3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 6 May 2007
I was given this book by a good friend who had introduced me to Philippa Gregory. Having loved The other Boleyn Girl by Philippa, I soon found myself a fan of Historical fiction.

I was hoping that this book would be as good as TOBG, and I am happy to say I loved this book.

This novel is about Mary Carey's (Boleyn) life, it begins when she is a child sent of to live in the French court, how she is used there. She is then sent to live at the English court, and finds herself Mistress of the King while she is married to William Carey. While at court she finds true love with a William Stafford.

There are three main characters in this book, Mary, her father Thomas Boleyn and William Stafford. It is about her life, how she is used by her father and how William Stafford (Staff) is her one true love. So you don't get a good insight into Anne Boleyn's life. However, this didn't ruin the book for me, as I loved reading about Mary, and how she and Staff got together and how her life turned out. I have to say Karen Harper made Staff sound irresistible and sexy! I would love to see this book made into a movie.

I will definitely be looking for more books by this author.
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VINE VOICEon 2 November 2006
Fame at last - Mary Boleyn mistress of two Kings and the survivor of the Boleyn clan, 2 Nov 2006
By Klaus Meyer "kjmoc" (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews

Two recent novels - The "Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory and Karen Harpers "The last Boleyn" - have re-established the life of Mary Boleyn. She was a mistress of two kings, Francis I of France, and Henry VIII of England. She was instrumental of the rise of the Boleyn's and of her sister Anne, but the managed to survive the Boleyn downfall.

Karen Harper's novel is a sympathetic adaptation of Mary's life from earliest childhood until her sister's death. Mary is described first as a tool of her father's ambitions, she struggles to for fill all what was expected of her, and only later can manage to escape the clutches of the power game at the royal court of England. She comes into her own when she secretly marries her second husband who does not fit the bill of a powerful courtier who can increase the Boleyn fortune. Mary the victim turns into Mary the Strong, Mary the happy and Mary the lucky as she is the only one of the three Boleyn siblings who survives the wrath of Henry VIII.

Karen Harper's picture of Mary is a sympathetic one, more sinned against than a sinner herself. She is very likeable. Karen Harper's style of writing is neither as lively nor fluent than that of Philippa Greogry. Sometimes the book just drags on and on when the story should have moved forward. It is a bit slow. Absolutely dreadful however are the parts on Mary's life at the court of France when Mrs. Harper seems to believe she has to use some French. I do not think that she has a clue how to express things in French. Why didn't' the editors intervene here? Nevertheless Karen Harper creates an interesting and plausible impression of the life and times of Mary Boleyn.

So all in all, it is an ok book, neither a waste of time, but not a book which will stick in one's mind
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on 23 March 2011
It's only in recent years that I've learned anything about Anne Boleyn's sister Mary, who was Henry VIII's lover long before Anne was on the scene . Most of what I have learned about her is from works such as The Other Boleyn Girl, where, although Mary acts as the main narrator, the story still focuses largely on Anne.

Well, not anymore . In Karen Harpers 'The Last Boleyn' Mary Boleyn gets the chance to take centre stage, and to tell her own story, starting with the day when, as a young child, she learned that she was to be sent abroad to the court of of Arch Duchess Margeret of Austria, and then to the court of Mary Tudor, married to the aging Louis XII of France . The two Marys form a strong friendship - after all, they are both from home, doing their duty for their families and their kingdom . It is from Mary Tudor that the younger Mary learns an important lesson - in the great chess game that is life, only the King is powerful enough to do as he pleases, and everyone else, regardless of whether they be Queen, Knight, or Bishop, is really no better than a pawn for the King to play at his pleasure .

As she takes her first lover, the handsome new french king, Francis , Mary comes to realise that this lesson is very true, as the king uses her to repay debts to friends with sexual favours. When Mary learns that she is to go back to England, she is delighted, for not only will she be reunited with her mother, brother, and sister, but she will also escape Francis.

However, from being at the mercy of one king, she finds herself gaining the attenton of another almost immediately, and encouraged by her family, embarks on yet another royala affair ....

One of the first things I really liked about this book is that, unlike many other books where Mary is included, the story does not centre too much on her better known sister, Anne . Also, the book covers a much longer timescale than many others, beginning in 1512 when Mary is still a young girl, and ending shortly after Annes execution in 1536. I really liked the longer timescale, as it allowed me to get a really good idea of Marys character, and of the personalities of others around her .

However, the book is riddled with historical inaccuracies, beginning at the very start when Mary is sent to the court of Archduchess Margaret of Austria at the age of only eight . In fact, most historians now agree that it was never Mary that went to Austria at all, but her Sister Anne.

Also, an entry in the book supposedly from December 29 1514 states that Louis XII has already been dead for a week - although his actual date of death was new years day 1515 .

Whilst the first inaccuracy mentioned could well be down to incomplete historical records at the time, the book having originally been published in 1983, the second just doesn't make any sense . Even in 1983, years before the internet made information easily available at the click of a mouse, surely there would have been some accurate historical reference book the author could have referred to in order to confirm a simple fact such as a date .

Reference is also made to Mary Boleyn and William Stafford meeting much much earlier than historical records show - in France in fact,in 1518 . In fact, records indicate the the two met in 1532, when Henry VIII and Anne travelled to france to meet King Francis, and Mary and Will attended . Reference is also made to them making their home in Wivenhoe, when records again show this to not be the case - they lived initially at Chebsey in Staffordshire, and then at Rochford Hall in Kent.

The book is certainly enjoyable and easy to read, but when there are so many inaccuracies, it becomes very hard to take it seriously . Yes, it is historical fiction, and I do expect some artistic licence in books of this nature, but when so much licence has been taken as to have people meeting years earlier than they did in real life, living in different places, and dying at different times, this loses any historical value whatsoever and becomes little more than a nice romantic story.

The thing that most annoys me is the fact that on the back of the book, there is a snippet of a review from the Los Angeles Times saying 'Impressively researched ..... the author has her historical details down pat.'

Well, I venture to suggest that the author has pulled her historical facts out of her backside . I would consider very little of this book factual, and would go so far as to suggest that anyone with even a passing interest in English history avoid this book . I normally regard a well researched historical novel as a great way to pick up a little extra knowledge without the dry and dull tone present in many biographies , but this particular book I regard as detrimental to learning.

2 stars . A nice romance tale, but offering nothing of value to anyone with an interest in history.
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on 21 May 2013
I have read a few historical novels, so though I'm no expert in the genre I thought I knew what to expect. To be frank I couldn't finish it. I was willing to overlook the fact that it lacked any actual history in it, but the endless drivel of 'Staff' and his courting of Mary Bullen was unreadable. It could have been something sweet, I honestly wasn't really that fussy. I just wanted some light reading for the bus home, but here we have Staff pressuring Mary into sleeping with him for the whole time. Now, I'm no expert in writing either but when rape gets mentioned (which is most of the time) as a way of getting someone to sleep with you then I switch off. If you're a fan of '50 Shades' then maybe you'll like it I suppose, but it definately wasn't for me.
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on 13 April 2012
Started out well , whilst a pleasant enough read , there were too many timeline inaccuracies , which does spoil the flow of the story . Plus there is enough interesting material in Mary`s life to create the tension of the Tudor Court so lapsing into Mills and Boon style writing re Staff and Mary was really unnecessary.
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on 20 September 2015
I am only half way through this book but so far it is excellent.I know that i have and still am reading as to the Tudor period and Anne Boleyn.But every version is different and good to read.This book is one of the best and kept my interest very much so.I will in the future look out for more of books by this author.Thank you Amazon or whoever sent this e-mail.Thank you so much.Anne.
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on 21 October 2014
If your a fan of good Tudor stories this book is a treat , the characters are made so real , the events are not the focus but how each character feels about what's happening and what thoughts and emotions they stir. The characters are moulded into person by events. Grammar punctuation and all correct .
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on 6 February 2013
Couldn't put this book down. Not only is it very readable but it also gives a picture of how women were used as pawns in Tudor times and what they had to do to survive!
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on 4 August 2015
There really wasn't anything I didn't like, thought it was brilliant and I couldn't put it down
Highly recommend it.
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on 21 April 2012
This book was exciting from the first page, one you cannot put down, and is a must for anyone who reads history.
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