Recently I read Anna of Kleve by Alison Weir. I hesitated on whether I would share the review or not. I have not been a huge fan of this author for many reasons, but I will not go into them here. However, I was offered a chance to read her new book. I thought, “why not, I will give her another shot.” I was sorely disappointed. There were so many different ways she could have moved the book but did not.
I do not think that I have been this disappointed in a book in a very long time. I only gave it two stars and might have gone lower, but two was far enough. As a historian, I was shocked and dismayed at what I was reading. If you read Anna of Kleve, I would love to hear your thoughts!
Review of Anna of Kleve
Anna of Kleve was one of the lucky ones. She survived marriage, however short, to King Henry VIII. As Anna leaves her home to begin a new life in England, she wonders what she is getting into, and what her life will hold.
As she begins her reign as the queen, she knows that there is no love between her and Henry. He made a few attempts to consummate their marriage, but then stopped. While they are polite, she knows that unless she can produce an heir, she is in a precarious position.
As Henry moves to have the marriage annulled, using her precontract as a means, she does not want to return home. Preferring to stay in England, and bowing to the Kings demands, she manages to secure a very decent position for herself as the “King’s beloved sister.” While no longer the queen of England, she has her own estates and a fairly healthy income. Now that they are not married, the relationship between Henry and Anna has improved, and they are learning to enjoy spending time with each other.
My thoughts on Anna of Kleve:
I have held off writing this review for a while, trying to wrap my head around what to say. This book had some very interesting points. I felt that even though labeled historical fiction, it took to many liberties with the Lady Anna. Through the book, Anna has a love interest in her cousin. Through this, she gives birth to an illegitimate child. This is hushed up. The child was given away, and she moves on to her life as the queen of England. But after the marriage with the king falls apart, she once again welcomes her cousin into her bed.
While reading through this, I kept thinking “this is not how a woman of this time would have behaved, especially one who was dependant upon the good graces of the king.” While she was human and may have longed for some sort of relationship through her life, the position that she was in, would have made this unthinkable. Through her actions and what we know about her through writings, the mere thought of this can be brushed away as fanatical. There was just too much for her to lose, both in England and her home country. Everything would have been gone if anything like this had really ever taken place.
While historical fiction is meant to entertain with some loose hold to history, there are times when it goes too far and enters the realm of fantasy.