Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession – Alison Weir

About the Book

The young woman who changed the course of history.

Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love.

But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.

Anne has a spirit worthy of a crown – and the crown is what she seeks. At any price.

ANNE BOLEYN. The second of Henry’s Queens. Her story.
History tells us why she died. This powerful novel shows her as she lived.

544 pages (hardcover)
Published on May 16, 2017
Published by Ballantine Books
Author’s website
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This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first historical fiction I’ve read that was written by Alison Weir. I have read some of her nonfiction, and I’ve loved her style, so I was incredibly excited when her publisher contacted me about this book. Hell yes, I’d love to review it. I’ve been fascinated by Anne Boleyn for a long, long time, not the least of reasons why is because Elizabeth I is one of my favorite historical figures, and our dear Anne was Elizabeth’s mother and that’s interesting.

So, yes. This book is a work of fiction, but where so many authors could take huge liberties with the context, time period, historical details and the like, Weir really doesn’t. She is obviously incredibly familiar with the subject matter and the time period, and she really brings it all to life for her reader, layering her book with details and context, which make the story even more poignant as it unfolds.

Telling Anne’s story has to be hard. Most people already know the highlights, so to make this story interesting, Weir really had to focus on all the details that most readers might not be as familiar with. She does this beautifully, telling Anne’s story as a girl of eleven, to her death. She explores a lot of Anne’s childhood and development in foreign courts. These experiences tell a different story of the woman that many know from history. She was, by some, painted as a sort of harlot, a witch, a woman of loose morals, and many of the charges that pinned her were based on those assumptions. Weir’s look at Anne’s childhood and teen years paint her as a very proper, very intelligent and subdued young girl.

Weir gets into Anne’s head, which also helps paint a different picture of this notable historic figure. She explores a bit of the things that influenced Anne’s religious beliefs, her political opinions, and the men that appeal to her. All of this is used to underscore how she approached the problem of Henry VIII, and how their relationship developed. It wasn’t a wild romance as I pictured it to be (despite much of my reading of Anne Boleyn, for some reason the wild romance idea sticks with me). The way Weir portrays their relationship in a very real, very realistic way in the context of Anne’s background.

This is also a story about a powerful woman in a time when women weren’t really powerful, and in that respect it is incredibly humanizing. Anne is a woman who isn’t innocent, but she is a victim of her time period and circumstance. She was incredibly unsuited for being a queen, but a bright young woman who aged far before she probably would have otherwise, and lived a flawed but exciting life that really set the stage for England’s politics for a long, long time after her.

Weir is a fantastic writer. She doesn’t embellish her story, but rather uses sparing words to tell a powerful tale of a woman who shaped a nation. Boleyn was misunderstood in many respects, imperfect, and completely unsuited to her ultimate job, but she was absolutely fascinating in so many respects. She was a woman with big dreams, big ideas, and her wings clipped by time period, circumstance, and culture.

Weir was very fair with the story she told, and the book itself was absolutely captivating from the first line to the very last. This was a fantastic work of historical fiction, and one I highly recommend if you, like me, are rather obsessed with this specific period of history.


5/5 stars


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