The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir – Book Review

The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir
Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House

Accused of incest, adultery, witchcraft, and plotting the death of her husband the king, Anne Boleyn was the first royal woman to be put to death for crimes of this nature. What really caused her downfall, though? Was Henry VIII simply tired of her, had she become a harridan who he no longer wished to deal with? Was she actually guilty of adultery and incest? Or perhaps Anne was an innocent victim in Henry’s all-consuming quest for a legitimate male heir? In The Lady in the Tower: the Fall of Anne Boleyn, historian Alison Weir examines the evidence against Anne and those around her, and comes to a conclusion not often promoted in popular Tudor historical fiction.

Weir tells the story of Anne’s fall from beginning to end, all the way to its impact on her daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I. Along the way she explores the evidence and counter evidence both for Anne’s alleged guilt, and for the plethora of theories that have built up around her accusal, conviction, and execution. Weir writes clearly, and ostensibly without much bias. She seems to know the Tudor period inside and out, and her arguments are convincing, based as they are on documents and Tudor-era norms.

Although packed with facts, theories, and evidence, The Lady in the Tower never becomes dull or dry. Anne’s story is a fascinating and dramatic one, and Weir lets that come through, without the drama prejudicing her arguments. This is a very well-written and informative history that has undoubtedly influenced the way I view Anne’s trial and fall. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – Audiobook Review

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, narrated by Simon Vance
Published in audio by Macmillan Audio, published in print by Henry Holt & Co, both imprints of Macmillan

Bring up the Bodies is the sequel to Wolf Hall.

Synopsis:

His attempt to marry Anne Boleyn irrevocably changed England, but now Henry VIII is growing disenchanted with his wife. Her one living child is another mere girl, like his child with his first wife, Katherine, and although Anne has conceived since she has failed to carry any more babies to term. In addition to feeling cheated in the return on his investment, Henry also finds himself increasingly intrigued by shy, quiet Jane Seymour. There is only one man who the king trusts to do his bidding and make sure that his ends are achieved: Thomas Cromwell.

Thoughts on the story:

In Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel continues telling the story of Cromwell and his machinations on behalf of Henry VIII. She clearly took to heart the criticisms of Wolf Hall, particularly that it is at times difficult to follow in the myriad of “he”s. In Bring up the Bodies, Mantel frequently clarifies when talking about Cromwell, the phrase “he, Cromwell” is sprinkled liberally throughout the text. It is actually present to the extent that it seems a bit overdone, almost as if she was attempting to prove a point about her choices in Wolf Hall. Bring up the Bodies is shorter and, in general, much more accessible than Wolf Hall while still being incredibly well-written.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Simon Vance was ON with his vocal differentiation and accents in Bring up the Bodies. I was initially put off by his voices for both Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, but shortly after each of them first speak, Mantel describes their voices/accents and Vance’s interpretations match perfectly.  The audio format does bring out Mantel’s “he, Cromwell” more prominently to the point where it is almost annoying, but Vance’s appealing narration smooths over that minor textual irritation.

Overall:

As much as I enjoyed Wolf Hall, I found Bring up the Bodies to be even better. I highly recommend it in general, and even more highly recommend having Simon Vance whisper Mantel’s fascinating words and stories into your ears.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Personal.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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