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on 23 May 2013
Highly readable, interesting and thought provoking. An excellent and refreshing read on Anne Boleyn, I really enjoyed it, and if you love everything AB you must read it. Well done Susan Bordo !
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on 21 May 2013
I never write reviews to the books I buy because there are so many semi-professionals out there doing it and much better than I ever could. But I really enjoyed this cultural historian's take and loved the 'created' image of Anne Boleyn on the front cover!
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on 22 June 2015
Interesting book about Anne's image over the centuries..the writer enjoys debunking the views of othe historians.
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on 5 March 2015
Well worth a read ..a balanced view.Highly entertaining.
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on 15 April 2013
I pondered this book for a while before ordering it. I'm glad I bought it. The writer has split the book into two sections: one of which re-examines the known facts of Anne's life leading up to her eventual downfall and execution. Anne comes across as more complicated than one might think - scheming gold digger, or sacrificial lamb for the cause of the new religion, or innocent victim of her mercurial husband? We are presented with a very nuanced take on the situation, including a phsychological profile of Henry the Eighth based on the nature of his pampered, largely female dominated, somewhat disfunctional upbringing. This interpretation of his character,as a spoilt and self-centred man, even in his younger days, shows him as a creature of extremes in his friendships and affections. Many people whom he once loved and lionised (Anne B. included) were turned on eventually, as they somehow "let him down", often in ways that they themselves did not understand. By loving or caring about a person, he was in effect giving them an element of power over him, and this he could not tolerate. This aspect of the book is well presented and well argued. Anne herself swore before witnesses, on the brink of death and trusting in the reality of her immortal soul (which as a believer she could not risk perjuring) that she was innocent of any sexual betrayal of Henry. Would such a devout woman have lied at such a critical moment?

The second part concentrates on how we, her public down the centuries, have interpreted her story in all its complexity, in fiction, in film, on TV and in biography. This endless fascination has rendered her simultaneously both extremely familiar and utterly unknowable. Henry as he embarked on a new marriage with Anne's polar opposite (the mild, docile Jane Seymour)had workmen slaving away in all his residences to erase every trace of the doomed second wife, the woman for whom he had defied Christendom. Her cultural memory has not been as easy to obliterate as her portraits, emblems and letters, and she remains a vivid if always elusive presence.

Is this a good book? I think so, and will shortly re-read it more slowly. It is certainly different and poses some interesting suggestions as to why Anne's tragedy unfolded as it did.
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on 8 July 2013
Lucid, sensible, and cogently presented, The Creation of Anne Boleyn explains to the general reader why you shouldn't believe everything you've heard about Anne, and, for the Anne enthusiasts, explores in some depth Anne in all her later interpretations over the centuries, from stage plays to film to historical fiction novels.

Admittedly, certain sections didn't interest me as much as others. I was far more fascinated by the modern re-imaginings of Anne than the sections on the early plays about her, for example, but that's just personal interests coming to bear. I was pretty astonished when Bordo writes that at talks when she asks people what do they know about Anne the top responses were still the gossipy falsities concocted by the likes of hostile writers such as Catholic propagandist Nicholas Sanders (who, in any case, wrote decades after Anne's death and never met her) - the old six fingers, witchcraft, incest, adultery chestnuts. I couldn't quite believe that with all the research that has been done in the past few decades to disprove and dispel much of this nonsense that the baseless myths still cling on with a tight grip in the public consciousness.

This is why books like The Creation of Anne Boleyn are important. Some academics sniff at "popular histories", written for the accessibility of the general reader in mind, but I think their importance cannot be overstated. The Creation of Anne Boleyn cuts through the fog of rumour and scandal to present the facts and get people to think about why they maybe should question the reliability of sources from the past. Bordo approaches Anne from the perspective of an expert in gender studies, not a traditional historian, and explores not only historical Anne but her connection to later people, and how she is reinterpreted and used by later groups with their own worldview.

It's a smooth, easy read that I tore through in a couple of days, it was that much of a page-turner.
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on 14 February 2017
not a good story about poor anne i did not enjoy it
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on 20 April 2014
I received a copy of The Creation of Anne Boleyn from the Goodreads First Reads program.

The Creation of Anne Boleyn looks into the reasons behind the current view that the world has of the most notorious of Henry VIII's Queens, Anne Boleyn. Looking into the modern interpretations of Anne's character.

Link to Goodreads
Link to amazon

I don't often actually read non-fiction books, but this one was very easy to read, interesting and captivating. I particularly liked the way which Bordo took the different Annes in fiction and TV/film and deconstructed them, showing where the image of them came from.

I particularly liked the chapter on the Showtime TV show, The Tudors, and Natalie Dormer's portrayal of Anne. In all of the books and shows that I have seen, her performance of Anne is by far my favourite, despite the blaring inaccuracies in the show as an entirety. I was slightly surprised to see that Bordo seemed to agree with me as far as the second series is concerned, mainly because of the complexities that Dormer brought to the role.

Bordo didn't seem to be too critical, and though she did express her own opinion she also gave both sides of the argument about what Anne (or any other person was like). Even the opinions that disagreed with her own.

Basically Bordo didn't just look at the facts of what happened, which is basically inconclusive, but also the views of people now, and through the other ages where Anne was portrayed in fiction/film. The book is split into three parts, the history, the fictional Annes, and then the public opinion of her.

If you're interested in the Tudors, or in Anne Boleyn, then this is a definite must read!
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on 1 October 2013
Wow what a book. Like so many of the most interesting characters in history - all is not what it seems. Anne Boleyn is no exception. Susan Bordo portrays a very different Anne than that we see in tele-movies (The Tudors) and in popular fiction. She has meticulously researched her subject and discovered many inaccuracies in how Anne has been portrayed; no sixth finger, no goitre, and certainly not a shrew. Anne's character assassination is typical of that era when someone falls out of favour, history is re-written and the person painted as evil. This is a lovely mix of fiction, historical fact, and the authors insights. We worth a read.
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on 21 January 2014
Anne Boleyn has been alive and well in the public imagination for five hundred years, and interest in her hasn't abated one bit. Over many years Anne has been portrayed in many shapes and colors although it was likely she was of middling height,was olive-complexioned with very long dark brown hair and sparkling black eyes. Although the ideal female coloring in the Renaissance was blonde with very light skin like Botticelli's Madonna, it is ironic that Katherine of Aragon as a Spaniard is most often represented in art and film as swarthy and raven-haired when actually her hair was red-brown, her skin considerably lighter in tone than Anne's. Anne possibly may have had a mole or two, but certainly no goiter or wen on her neck, no crooked tooth.

One famous physical anomaly was Anne's sixth finger which the author wryly remarks will not stop pointing. Contemporaries often know nothing whatever about Anne except the Sixth Finger. If Anne had indeed had an extra finger, the superstitious Henry would have run the other way as fast as he could go, such manifestations being the mark of Satan. Besides, says author Bordo, all the skeletons in Peter Ad Vincula where Anne was buried were dug up and examined and no sixth finger popped up.

Eustache Chapuys, the ambassador to England from the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, wrote voluminously of Anne, of Henry, of the British court, was one of the first spinners of the Anne Boleyn myth and he carefully and meticulously molded her into a witch like shrew. Rabidly pro- Katherine (who was Charles V's aunt ) and pro-Mary, (Katherine's only child), he was a Catholic to the core, and spent some twenty years during his ambassadorship in undermining Anne both before her death and after. He called her "the Whore" or "the Concubine " or derisively "The Lady."

Author Bordo confesses that when reading the contemporary manuscripts she felt like shaking them, hoping a real person- Henry or Anne and the other players- would fall out. Contemporary writings are so larded with courtly elaborations it is hard to get to the gist of the matter and separate the wheat from the chaff. Many of the conversations between Henry and Anne as reported by Chapuys hardly took place in his hearing. Henry's famous warning to Anne that he could bring her down just as quickly as he had raised her up, and at her child-bed after a miscarriage, coldly declaring God would not allow him to have male children - could very well be inventions. Chapuys is not to be trusted for any information about the royal couple, especially for conversations he could not have listened to personally.

Anne is usually blamed for the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey and is portrayed twisting the King's arm to get her way. Even if Wolsey, on orders from the King, had broken up the affair between Henry Percy and Anne, the Earl of Northumberland would not allow the match between the peer his son and the daughter of a mere knight. And what was Henry Percy anyway compared to the King? It appears that Henry and Anne worked harmoniously together with Wolsey in trying to get the divorce from Katherine. Wolsey could not convince the Pope to grant the decree, but the King now had his eyes on Wolsey's substantial wealth and at the hounded Cardinal's death, simply grabbed it.

In some of the most fascinating parts of the book author Bordo looks at Anne (and Henry) as they appear in novels, biographies poetry,in film and in essays covering writings of literally hundreds of years, all the way back to Chapuys.

She analyzes modern films such as "Anne of the Thousand Days" and "The Other Boleyn Girl." She had interviewed Genevieve Bujold, the young Canadian actress with the perfect English-French accent who played Anne in "Days." Bordo asked Genevieve who she thought should play Anne in future films. There was a long silence then Genevieve said "Me! Anne is mine!" Boleyn gained a lot of modern fans in that movie, as viewers shrieked and cheered when Anne says as a little red-haired girl runs by "My Elizabeth shall be Queen!"

The many historical inaccuracies in "The Other Boleyn Girl" are pointed out in detail but even though Anne gets short shift in the novel and movie, I for one loved them, flights of fancy on the part of the author included. Think cocker spaniel (Mary) versus greyhound (Anne).Anne has been imagined and re-imagined over and over again her various incarnations reflective to the time they were written as well as the sex of the author. Don't miss this one!
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