16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Unusual take on the enduring enigma that is Anne Boleyn.,
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This review is from: The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen (Hardcover)
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.