18th MAY 2017
ANNE BOLEYN: A KING'S OBSESSION
BOOK TWO in the SIX TUDOR QUEENS series
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.
THE SECOND OF HENRY’S QUEENS.
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/
"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.)
“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)
"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)
“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. Weir’s great skill is the creation of a driving narrative. Although, of course, I know what happens at the end, I was turning the pages as rapidly as I could to see how the story unfolded – and to follow the twist that had been trailed, to see if it came to fruition. I will say no more on that! 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)
“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)
Limited-edition advance bound proof review copies of Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession.
"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.
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?