AlisonWeir.org.uk Logo





ANNE BOLEYN: A KING'S OBSESSION

 



BOOK TWO in the SIX TUDOR QUEENS series


  



ANNE BOLEYN

AN EXTRAORDINARY YOUNG WOMAN, WHO CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY.
 
Fresh from the sophisticated 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.
  
She has a spirit worthy of a crown – and a crown is what she seeks.  And so she embarks on her perilous course, which will plunge a kingdom into turmoil.
 
ANNE BOLEYN.
THE SECOND OF HENRY’S QUEENS.
HER STORY.
 
Acclaimed, bestselling historian Alison Weir weaves impeccable new research into the dark, fascinating tale of Henry VIII’s second wife - a woman ahead of her time, who dared to question traditional concepts of femininity, and whose ambition drove her to gamble with the fickle nature of a dangerous king.
 
History tells us why she died. This powerful novel shows her as she lived.


Alison Weir recounts one of the most sensational episodes in English history, revealing a courageous, determined woman on a headlong course to tragedy.
   Be prepared for your perceptions to be challenged.   




"As if we weren’t excited enough…Weir teases Twitter with beautiful Boleyn book artwork" http://www.royalhistorygeeks.com/as-if-we-werent-excited-enoughweir-teases-twitter-with-beautiful-boleyn-book-artwork/



REVIEWS


"Anne Boleyn has always been one of the most hotly-debated figures in history. Villain or victim? Schemer, sorceress, or saint who died for the new religion? Alison Weir's wonderfully detailed novel offers a spellbinding solution to the mystery of Anne's true nature. Carrying all the conviction of Weir's lifelong historical research, it both paints a wholly human portrait of Anne, and places her in the broad European context which makes sense of her story. At once an enthralling read, and a real contribution to our sense of the sixteenth century." (Sarah Gristwood, author of Game of Queens, to whom most of the credit is due for the cultural context of my portrayal of Anne Boleyn's early years in Europe.)



"This Anne is clever and clear-sighted. Those sympathetic to Boleyn tend to stumble at her documented spite towards Katherine of Aragon and Mary Tudor, but Weir roots this bad behaviour in understandable insecurity as the King's ardour for her wanes and the longed-for son does not arrive. This tale of ascent and demise cannot escape comparisons with Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall series, which deals with the same events. Weir's version is detailed, immaculately researched and convincing. She is particularly interesting on Anne's probable exposure to early feminist writings." (Antonia Senior, The Times)



“As with all her books Alison makes history come alive as no one else. Her novels are biographical but with that comes that extra magic ingredient of a vividly imagined fictional framework which takes the reader there, then. I enjoyed it enormously. I finished it late last night and genuinely couldn’t put it down. I’m still reeling from the horror of that final paragraph which kept me awake for the rest of the night. Brilliant!!” (Barbara Erskine, author of Lady of Hay)




"Weir’s Boleyn is a highly intelligent idealist, who becomes the tragic victim of her own ambition, rather than the manipulative minx of popular myth. Figured as a proto-feminist figure, we see how she sought to emulate the powerful female rulers of Europe, in whose courts she served during her youth, where she learned that, ‘when kingdoms are at stake…human feelings count for nothing.’ It was a truth that would be hammered home once she was Queen, when she locked horns with her powerful male adversaries. The novel is a triumph of fine detail and research and offers a complex depiction of an endlessly fascinating woman." (Elizabeth Fremantle, historical novelist)



"A marvellous book - Anne comes alive and leaps from the page, fascinating, enthralling, full blooded - you can't help but fall in love with her. A brilliant evocation of the period - and a knife edge moment in British history. Wonderful." (Kate Williams)




"The moment I opened Alison Weir's new novel I was transported back into the sixteenth-century. Although a novel, Weir's outstanding and sound historical research shines through, shedding new light on England's most controversial queen. Weir provides page after page of utterly compelling detail, keeping the reader hooked from start to finish. This book is not only a world apart from any other novel on Anne Boleyn, it is also an exquisite work of literary art. I enjoyed it so much, I can't praise it highly enough!" (Nicola Tallis, author of Crown of Blood)



BOOK OF THE WEEK in THE LADY

"The second book in this spellbinding series offers a nuanced portrait of Henry VIII's famously 'beheaded' wife Anne Boleyn. Telling the story from her protagonist's point of view, Weir writes in a way that appeals to the modern reader, while keeping a sharp eye on historical facts. Weir presents Anne as much more than a
pretty, passive consort for Henry: she shows her manipulative side, her bravery in challenging the religious and social rules of the day, and her role at court. Her Anne is a woman who was not only fearless but also something of a feminist icon. The story of Boleyn has been told many times, and from many angles, but this could
be the best adaptation so far. A cracking read - I can't wait for the third instalment."

"Alison Weir is the doyen of Tudor fiction and non-fiction, in my book. She has that unique talent to transport her readers into the lives and loves of the people she writes about from the first line. Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession takes us from the eleven year-old Anne, worrying about her sallow skin and unwomanly figure, to the woman kings lusted after, and the woman who changed England - and thereby Europe and North America - forever. Anne shines through as the woman any king couldn't possibly resist! With Alison’s light touch, it is fiction that reads as fact, and leaves us breathless, hoping … then of course we recognise that we are not reading pure fiction after all, but a finely woven tapestry of fictional biography that stays with us long after we close the book at the final line. It is simply a masterpiece." (Susan Ronald, author of The Pirate Queen and Heretic Queen)

"Simply exquisite. Anne Boleyn is a tricky character and hard to like sometimes, but Alison has really brought her to life in such a compelling way. This is Anne Boleyn as you have never seen her before.  I could not put it down." (Tracy Borman, author of Cromwell and The Private Lives of the Tudors)




"It is 1512. A young girl, who in our own times would be in the final year at primary school, is pondering a future that soon will be decided for her - marriage with the richest and most important man her father can lay his hands on. Materially she will want for nothing. End of story. She spies her younger brother bunking off school. He is her best friend. Their dad is due home any time on leave. His work in London keeps him away for weeks on end. Alison Weir’s latest novel Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession  follows these  young characters from the most tranquil of beginnings in the idyllic Kentish countryside, to those dreadful consecutive days nearly a quarter of a century later when they are led out to meet their maker.  Before we even begin to read the book, we already know there will not be a happy ending. Weir, nevertheless, has the skill and knowledge to construct the tale in such a way that still we cannot fail to be taken aback as events unfold, or to be saddened by what Anne Boleyn becomes, and, finally, appalled by the nature of her terrible demise." (Marilyn Roberts, author of The Mowbray Legacy and of Katherine Howard, the Dowager Duchess and Norfolk House, Lambeth – Trouble in Paradise, forthcoming)

"Thank you most sincerely for this beautifully-crafted work laying bare the intimate details of Anne Boleyn's life from when she was a young child through to her tragic demise. Thank you for taking me into the royal courts of old to be able to eavesdrop on all the intimate conversations or get into the mind of these well-known characters. You brought each one back to life in a fascinating way. It is a thorough delight wandering through your well-scripted pages and I am sincerely grateful for all the hours of research and hard slog you have put in to fashion this intricate account of such a famous time in history." (Jennifer Larmer, author)



“Prominent royal biographer and historical novelist Weir is well-placed to craft this detailed fictional portrait of Henry VIII’s second wife. Weir isn’t blindly sympathetic toward Anne.  Instead, she explores Anne’s influences and motivations, creating a multifaceted portrait of an ambitious woman who reluctantly accedes to Henry’s courtship and later acts out of desperation to protect herself and her daughter, Elizabeth. Even readers who know Anne’s story well should gain insights from this revealing novel.” (Booklist)


“An intriguing interpretation of the obsessive and volatile relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. So many books have been written about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn that you may think it would be hard to say anything new, yet Alison Weir combines her wealth of historical knowledge, culled from many years of research into the period, with a story-telling ability that has held millions enthralled, to give a new take on the story. Anne’s transformation from a normal, seemingly-kind-hearted girl, to a vindictive woman, driven by fear, stress and ambition to seek the downfall of her enemies is credible, and even understandable. Weir’s great skill is the creation of a driving narrative. Anyone who enjoys a thoroughly good story, whilst wanting their historical fiction to be true to the known facts, will enjoy this latest offering from a writer who deserves the title of Tudor Queen herself. This is truly a tale of obsession – Henry’s for Anne, and Anne’s for the crown. Weir’s unrivalled knowledge of historical facts support a convincing portrayal of obsession, ambition and retribution." (Melita Thomas, Tudor Times)


"Alison Weir combines life-long research and eminent knowledge of the Tudor Era with highly engaging character and plot development to craft the fascinating, vibrant, and ultimately tragic life story of Anne Boleyn, Queen of England. Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession is a phenomenal tour de force, true historical fiction at its finest. Based largely upon Alison’s near life-long exhaustive research, this novel is written from Anne Boleyn’s point-of-view. [She] is crafted as a brilliant, complicated, driven, and passionate woman. Her navigation through the muddy waters of 16th-century male dominance throughout her life and tragic fall in large measure highlights Anne as a truly heroic figure. I was totally enthralled. Alison’s rich and vibrant story-telling will get us all discussing once again the life of Queen Anne Boleyn, as well as the lives of those she touched, sharing our opinions and debating the facts of what is known and what can’t be known." (Beth von Staats, QueenAnneBoleyn.com)

“Weir deals sensitively with Anne’s increasing desperation as she fails to produce a living son and witnesses the king’s blatant philandering. The plot intensifies once Anne is accused of adultery and treason, culminating in a truly shocking and emotional execution scene. Weir brings considerable expertise to her portrait of Anne as ‘a flawed but very human heroine, a woman of great ambition, idealism and courage. A richly detailed rendering of the familiar Tudor drama.” (Kirkus Reviews)


"This is a well-written and fast-paced novel that should appeal to fans of Tudor-era fiction looking for a fresh look at one of the period's most popular protagonists." (Library Journal)


"Weir's Anne is a clever and strong woman." (Sunday Express Magazine)


"Alison Weir's novel represents a persuasive attempt to restore the humanity of a tragic, misrepresented figure, one of history's original nasty women. Weir's fictional Anne is ferociously smart and guilty of nothing but craving the power that's rightfully hers to claim." (Romance Reviews Today)


"Beautifully written, exquisitely detailed. Anne stands out as someone who is both educated and intelligent. Henry is, well, Henry, obsessed with having a son, but also obsessed by his sexual urges, and possessing a cruel and dangerous demeanour. Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series begins with KATHERINE OF ARAGON, THE TRUE QUEEN and continues with her Anne Boleyn tale. Don’t miss this series." (NPR.org)


"Alison Weir strips away many of the myths that have grown around Anne’s dramatic life and returns to what little source material we have on this most famous of queens to reimagine her turbulent life and times. The result is a stunning reappraisal of the queen who changed the course of history, an unforgettable and palpably plausible portrait of a flawed but very human woman whose persuasive powers and vaulting ambition took her so high that she soon found herself not just out of her depth but on a road more perilous and more frightening than she could ever have imagined. Weir gets to the heart of this enigmatic queen, using her vast historical knowledge and intuitive sensibilities to bring us an Anne Boleyn more vital, more credible and more irresistibly real than we have ever before seen her. This Anne is restless, driven, manipulative, fiercely intelligent, and intimidating even to the King she ensnares through her wiles. The girl who sought love, power and status is transformed by the achievement of her own ambitions to the point where she is prepared to recklessly challenge the man who holds all power over life and death. This is a thrilling addition to the magnificent Six Tudor Queens series as Weir puts flesh on the bones of this remarkable Queen, examines in detail the influences that motivated her life, and offers up one of historical fiction’s most compelling and exciting portraits of the enduringly fascinating and mysterious Anne Boleyn." (Lancashire Post)


Alison Weir strips away many of the myths that have grown around Anne’s dramatic life and returns to what little source material we have on this most famous of queens to reimagine her turbulent life and times. The result is a stunning reappraisal of the queen who changed the course of history, an unforgettable and palpably plausible portrait of a flawed but very human woman whose persuasive powers and vaulting ambition took her so high that she soon found herself not just out of her depth but on a road more perilous and more frightening than she could ever have imagined.

Alison Weir strips away many of the myths that have grown around Anne’s dramatic life and returns to what little source material we have on this most famous of queens to reimagine her turbulent life and times. The result is a stunning reappraisal of the queen who changed the course of history, an unforgettable and palpably plausible portrait of a flawed but very human woman whose persuasive powers and vaulting ambition took her so high that she soon found herself not just out of her depth but on a road more perilous and more frightening than she could ever have imagined.

"This is a stunning, engaging, comprehensive and convincing novel. Weir create[s] a woman who is bright, educated, thoughtful, caring, likeable and different from the usual female courtier. The journey as told by Weir is realistic, unsensational, and diligent in paying attention to details of court life and Anne’s trial and execution. It is a very human tale of how power corrupts and creates neuroses, real and imagined. Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession is important, page-turning biographical fiction, hauntingly and beautifully told. It is psychologically penetrating and packed with wonderful, vivid scenes. Weir’s characterisation is superb, and this complex novel will be, without doubt, one of the most admired works of historical fiction of 2017." (Historical Novels Review)


Limited-edition advance bound proof review copies of Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession.


EDITORIAL RECEPTION

"I am slightly lost for words - I finished this over the weekend and it is truly wonderful. You’ve done that incredibly difficult thing of keeping us on the edge of our seats all the way to the end, even though we all know what that end must be. Anne is an extraordinary character and I think you’ve really handled her changing understanding of herself, her relationship with the King  and her situation brilliantly.  She is a really sympathetic (if flawed) heroine!  I really think you have delivered a Book Two that might even be better (though that would be hard) than Book 1."

"I’m a good third of the way through and thus far totally rapt in Anne’s experiences in Europe. The unique perspective you give us on these queens remains powerful and thrilling. And I’m really enjoying the glimpses of Katherine’s family from Anne’s point of view – it makes for a narrative as detailed in its weaving as the best tapestry!"

"I finished Anne Boleyn in a state of appalled fascination. Such a powerful novel! I think you’ve done a brilliant job with Anne as a character – the progression is clever, subtle and effective as we watch Henry gradually erode her resistance to romantic involvement thanks to his dogged, relentless pursuit. And because you’re so unfailingly clear about how she feels about him at every turn, we do sympathise with her in the process and her actions make perfect sense. This is no mean feat! I did enjoy, too, the shiver I felt throughout, almost as though I was watching events unfold, hiding behind the sofa, holding the pages at arm’s length and hardly daring turn them for fear of what was to come; the ghastly denouement. The ending is terrific.  What’s especially pleasing to me about this novel is that it’s plainly a piece with Katherine and yet its tone is different to reflect Anne’s personality. Brilliant. This was no easy task to achieve for a character essentially so unsympathetic. Bravo!"

"I had the pleasure of reading your novel over several days while on vacation, and I just want to tell you how marvellous I think it is. I thought I knew [Anne Boleyn's] story, particularly after reading your wonderful The Lady in the Tower, but this book took me to a new level of understanding and appreciation of her life. I particularly enjoyed the early parts in the Brabant court and in France, and also the nuanced portrait of Anne’s relationship with her sister. I cried non-stop throughout the last dozen pages or so. I found the swift final stage of her life, her sense of the tables turning and the rapid denouement so affecting, and her brave behaviour in the Tower so very sad. I am so impressed by the combination of your evident deep knowledge of Anne and your arrangement of it all into such a compelling story—really, I’m just so excited by it!  Congratulations on having written such a superb novel."

"I stayed up much later than I should last night as I couldn’t put Anne Boleyn down... Those final scenes are incredibly vivid and memorable, and Anne’s humbling self-realisation is very powerful. At the other end of the story, the effect of Anne’s early years in Europe on her developing character and personality is fascinating, and you open up the world she was exposed to at that time. I really enjoyed being back in Henry’s court, and the way you’ve intertwined the Queens’ stories and shown the impact that the long years of waiting for the divorce have on Anne. It’s great to see how you’ve maintained Henry’s character from The True Queen through Anne’s very different eyes, while successfully drawing a nuanced picture of a flawed but more sympathetic Anne Boleyn than is often offered. She’s such an interesting woman, under enormous pressure from everyone around her in that bubbling cauldron of court politics. And alongside the story itself, the push and pull of politics and religion, the desire for power and the forced or willing sacrifice of self for family or country or the greater good are themes that your readers, like me, will find totally engrossing. It’s going to be a fabulous sequel to The True Queen."

"I’ve absolutely loved Anne Boleyn, and I’m so impressed with the way you have brought her, and the people of the Tudor court, to life in this book. The liveliness of the court, and the vibrant background to Anne’s life really shine through, but best of all is the way that we see Anne’s character shaped and changed by the situations and people that she comes across and the choices that she makes. She’s a fascinating woman throughout, and you’ve captured a wonderfully human portrait of this infamous queen everyone thinks they know. It’s a fantastic partner to The True Queen, and your readers are going to love it."


ANNE BOLEYN - A KING'S OBSESSION



It is hard to credit that an English queen could become a modern celebrity nearly five centuries after her death, but in recent years, Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, has become the subject of a fast-growing cult. From the anonymous person who, every year, on the anniversary of her execution, has flowers placed on her supposed grave in the Tower of London, to the `Anne Boleyn lovers` in Yahoo Groups, the posthumous charisma of this most controversial of queens intrigues and fascinates.

In recent years, historical novelists have fed this fascination, serious historians have endlessly debated every aspect of Anne Boleyn`s life, and film makers have both fuelled, and capitalised on, the public`s seemingly insatiable appetite for all things Anne. So - why this interest?

Anne`s own story is one of the most dramatic – and tragic – in English history. She was a woman who lived on the edge for much of her adult life.Well-born but not conventionally beautiful, at twenty-one, she arrived at the English court after spending seven years at the courts of Burgundy and France, where she was imbued with radical feminist ideas way ahead of her time. Her French manners, stylish dress, wit and charm made her an immediate success. By 1526, Henry VIII had fallen passionately in love with her, and the following year he resolved to set aside his chaste and devoted wife, Katherine of Aragon, who had failed to give him a male heir, and marry Anne. There followed six long years of frustration, with Anne refusing to become Henry’s mistress in anything but the courtly sense, and the Pope stalling over granting an annulment.

Anne wielded considerable influence over Henry. An evangelical who wanted the Catholic Church reformed from within, she helped to open the King`s eyes to new and highly controversial ideas. It was her vision that shaped the revolution that we call the English Reformation.

In the end, a disillusioned Henry broke with Rome, declared himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, and married Anne. But her child, much heralded as the long-awaited male heir, turned out to be a girl, the future Elizabeth I. Her next three pregnancies ended in miscarriages, which laid her open to the machinations of her enemies, who united to bring her down.

Writing her story was an enormous challenge. We do not have such a wealth of personal letters written by Anne as we do for Katherine of Aragon, and much of the source material on her is hostile – essentially, we lack a voice for her, and there is damning evidence that cannot be ignored.      

She left behind her an enduring mystery. `If any will meddle with my cause,’ she had said as she faced death, `I require them to judge the best.’ Many since have done just that, yet the enigma remains. Anne has become a romantic figure in the widest sense. But in all the romancing, has anyone noticed the evidence that suggests how Anne really felt about Henry VIII, and about her daughter? And why, in her last confession, did she swear, on the damnation of her soul, that she had never offended with her body against the King?



Anne Boleyn was a feminist way ahead of her time.


Anne travelled extensively in France and almost certainly knew (at least by sight) Leonardo da Vinci.


Did Anne Boleyn fend of Henry VIII's advances for seven years? Or is the truth rather different?


It was Anne's vision that helped to shape the English Reformation.


Anne was the first modern Queen of England. She is unique in the annals of English queenship. She broke the mould, distancing herself from medieval ideals; no subsequent queen consort ever enjoyed such power.

What were Anne's feelings for Henry VIII, and for their daughter, the future Elizabeth I?


In Anne's last confession, she swore that she had never offended with her body against the King… What did she mean?


Scheming adventuress, wronged heroine or feminist icon? What is the truth about Anne Boleyn?


You can listen to my podcast on Anne Boleyn on the Renaissance English History project here - 

http://www.englandcast.com/2017/05/alisonweiranneboleyn/ - and there are five copies of the book to win!


Did Anne Boleyn suffer from Gender Disappointment? You can read my article here at the On the Tudor Trail website: http://onthetudortrail.com/Blog/2017/05/14/did-anne-boleyn-suffer-from-gender-disappointment/


Anne Boleyn in France: A Mysterious Episode. You can read my article here on the Tudor Times website:  

http://tudortimes.co.uk/guest-articles/anne-boleyn-in-france


You can read my interview with Beth von Staats at the Queen Anne Boleyn website here: http://queenanneboleyn.com/2017/05/19/qab-interview-alison-weir/


Anne Boleyn: a sixteenth-century feminist? You can read my article here at BBC History Extra:

http://www.historyextra.com/article/bbc-history-magazine/anne-boleyn-16th-century-feminist?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitter

Tardiness and Tempest: Henry VIII's Courtship of Anne Boleyn. You can read my article here at Historia: http://www.historiamag.com/tardiness-and-tempest/




REJECTED JACKET AND ARTWORK