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4.3 out of 5 stars
8
Windsor Castle
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VINE VOICEHALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 4 July 2010
Over the years Ainsworth's novels have gradually lost favour which is a shame because he did write some cacking tales. This one alas isn't one of his best but may still appeal to quite a few readers, especially with the popularity of Tudor based historical novels that seem quite in favour at the present time. I should warn you though that there are quite a few typos in this edition, not necessarily spelling, the one that I found most annoying was that it for some reason at times alternates in the size of the font.

Anyway, that out of the way the story starts in 1529. Henry VIII is at Windsor with his mistress Anne Boleyn, with Wolsey and Campeggio discussing whether Henry has grounds to divorce Catherine of Aragon. Anne is trying to wrap Henry round her little finger but Wolsey is trying to get him to fall for a young lady in the area, thus taking his mind off of a divorce. With others after love with the women they fancy there is a lot of intrigue and machinations going on. At the same time the castle servants and those who live in the area of Windsor warn people not to go into the forest at night, as Herne the Hunter has been reported abroad. With Herne appearing and disappearing seemingly at will, is he really a spirit, or something much closer to earth?

As with nearly all novels of this period, if you do decide to read it be warned that there is a lot of melodrama, but that is part and parcel of reading older works. I quite enjoyed this, but as with all authors some books are better than others, and for me this isn't one of Ainsworth's greatest.
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on 28 November 2014
This novel features material now jumbled with the folklore of Herne the Hunter. A very interesting read if you are researching this subject, made famous in the Merry Wives of Windsor by Shakespeare. A chilling read set in Tudor England. It might be old, but it's a good 'un!
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on 9 April 2018
bit slow going but gets there
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on 3 July 2017
Seller gave excellent service. I would not hesitate to use again.
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on 4 September 2013
I have never had a good word to say about Henry VIII, and still do not, however this novel does present a new image of him which, of course is brilliantly crafted by Harrison Ainsworth.
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on 13 February 2015
quick delivery great service
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VINE VOICEon 26 January 2013
This novel by Ainsworth, the fourth of his I have read, centres around Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the rise, and in the last section, the fall of Anne Boleyn. The situations are as contrived and somewhat fanciful as ever, though with magnificently readable dialogue. There are some great scenes - such as a fictional one between Catherine of Aragon who, after her fall, enters the Castle in disguise and tries to warn Henry not to abandon her for Anne, then has a confrontation with her rival in Henry's sight - and some great scenes in the final section where Anne falls prey to Henry's infatuation with Jane Seymour. This is mostly good stuff (though it plays a little fast and loose with historical facts). There are also two other major plot strands which interweave with the historical one, one involving the local ghost Herne the Hunter who is supposed to haunt Windsor Great Park, and the other around a maiden Mabel Lyndwood, who is the object of desire of most of the male characters, including Herne and even the King himself, who is temporarily distracted from Anne Boleyn by this maiden. The strands got a little confusing at times, but this was mostly lightweight and enjoyable. In the middle of the novel, there is a Victor Hugo-style digression giving a lengthy history of Windsor Castle from its earliest days to contemporary times (i.e. the 1840s), including even a gushing tribute by the author to the then youthful Queen Victoria whom he says he has seen from a distance at the Castle. This section took up fully 10% of the book and jarred with the storylines - it would have been better as an appendix.
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on 12 March 2016
All fine.
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