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on 7 April 2017
loved it
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on 30 October 2009
This most neglected of Henry the Eighth's wives, Anne of Cleves created no scandal, was not involved in political intrigue, was not beheaded or imprisoned; lived an uneventful life and seemingly was liked by all who met her, including Henry once he was no longer married to her.

Elizabeth Norton has not unearthed anything new about Anne but she has done a good job in presenting the known facts in a clear and readable manner. Anybody writing Anne's biography is limited by the fact that so few personal details were known about her and she was perceived as being of little political or social importance after her brief marriage to Henry the Eighth ended as she had no power to promote faction or advancement at the Henrician court so her movements and thoughts were seen by the chroniclers of the times as unimportant. Neither did Anne of Cleves leave any diaries or personal letters that might reveal her true thoughts about her marriage and divorce - as opposed to her dutiful stance to promote her family's interest.

Little is known about the early youth of this obscure German princess from Cleves but Elizabeth Norton provides more details about her family background which is interesting. The narration follows Henry's choice of Anne as his fourth wife and rejection of her on their marriage night,and although the real reason for this is still unclear it appears to foreshadow the rejection of Caroline of Brunswick on her wedding night by the future George the Fourth - lack of personal hygiene, which must have indeed been dire given the very low standards of the age. Following her apparently relucatant acceptance of the divorce Anne settled for a quiet and prosperous life as the King's Dear Sister. Elizabeth Norton shows that, in a different less dramatic way, Anne of Cleves was just as much a victim of Henry as his other wives in that, despite her desire to return to Cleves Henry frustrated this by the terms of the settlement and even after his death her attempts to do so were fruitless.

The book is lavishly illustrated with full colour plates of Anne, and the people and places familiar to her. However, I was puzzled by the attribution of plate 52 as a portrait of Elizabeth the First; the features of this woman bear no relation to any accredited portraits and the features are impossibly youthful given her dress is late Elizabethan.

I enjoyed this biography of Anne of Cleves and I recomend it to anybody wanting to know about Anne of Cleves.
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on 27 May 2010
If you can have a favourite wife of Henry VIII mine will always be Katherine of Aragon but I find Anne Of Cleves the most interesting and if I were to chose which wife I would have rather been it would have been her; the one that really survived. Although the author uncovers nothing already known about Anne's life there are few recent biographies dedicated solely to her, which is the book's main attraction. The most interesting parts are of course the mystery surrounding Henry's dislike of Anne and her treatment under Edward and Mary. After reading the author's poor Jane Seymour biography I took a chance on her Anne Of Cleves offering. It was worth it and thoroughly enjoyable.
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I admire Anne of Cleves, I really do. For a woman of her time, and especially one placed into her unique situation, she showed immense strength of character throughout what must have been a terrifying ordeal. Openly ridiculed, by Henry and his Court, and sharing her bed with a King who was far from the glamorous, red haired prince of his youth, Anne of Cleves showed remarkable courage for such a young woman, so far from home and dreadfully isolated. I'm very happy to have this book in my Tudor collection, but I have to be very honest and say that I didn't gain any further insight into Anne than I already had. It's a nice work, cleanly presented with good illustrations but lacking in opinion, and I would have liked it be more opinionated. I'm waiting for the compassionate version, the one that sees Anne lifted into her rightful place as the woman who survived them all, and came out of it not just with her life but with independent wealth, properties and a direct link straight back into the heart of the Tudor family. After all, even the magnificent Thomas Cromwell didn't survive this marriage. It's a shame that, even here, so much is made of the fact that Henry wouldn't consummate his marriage to Anne and that's always seen as such a negative but, in my own opinion, it's probably what saved her life. Anne was free from the Tudor curse of infant mortality, infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth and more importantly, Henry had no excuse to tire of her and sharpen his axe. As historical works go this is a must have for any Tudor enthusiast but I just wanted a little more warmth, a little more compassion for this wonderful woman.
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VINE VOICEon 29 December 2009
A wonderfully lucid account of the life of Anne of Cleves which manages to avoid the pitfalls of wild supposition which make so many books like this read like author fantasies that lack a firm historical basis. Essentially we are still in the dark as to why the king rejected her. An ego-zapping first meeting? Personal hygiene? We really don't know and I prefer to be presented with the possibilities rather than a neat solution provided by the author. This is also the first book to recognise that Anne must have been clever to survive as she did. We also see though that the marriage blighted her life for she never remarried or had a child or went home to Cleves again and while she was financially well off during Henry's lifetime, she had to struggle and fight for her rights for the last few years of her life. This was a good read and although it presented little new it shone a wise and evenhanded light on Anne of Cleves.
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on 28 January 2012
There is a dearth of books on Anne of Cleves and I looked forward to an informative read.Unfortunately, I found the book quite generic, being a history of Henry V111 slanted toward Anne. There was hardly any background about her early life and little new information overall.Most of the information can be found elsewhere in books on Henry, Edward the sixth or Mary. I was really disappointed.
Considering the size of the sources used for the book, I would have expected much more detail.I would not easily be persuaded to buy another book by this author.
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on 23 February 2013
Well researched book on a slightly neglected and overlooked individual. Informative and sympathetic. Easy to read. Could have interpretation of source documents better explained, but that's being really picky.
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on 30 October 2012
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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on 3 September 2013
Historically correct, well observed and would recommend to friends and family. If you enjoy reading about this era, you will find this a worthwhile read.
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on 10 February 2012
I was looking forward to reading about how Anne of Cleves lived after her annulment, what affairs she had and her relationships with Henry VIII's children etc. Unfortunately the author did not got into enough detail for me, she seemed to breeze over those details which give a character (fictional or non-ficitonal)depth and allows the reader to feel some empathy with the character. This book added only a little to the information I already had. Disappointing.
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