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Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion [Kindle Edition]

Anne Somerset
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Often derided as weak-willed and insecure, Queen Anne was in fact one of Britain’s most remarkable monarchs. In many ways a stolid, conventional woman, she nevertheless presided over some of the most momentous events in British history and led a personal life riven by passion, illness and intrigue.

In 1702, fourteen years after she helped oust her father from his throne and deprived her newborn half-brother of his birthright, Queen Anne inherited the crowns of England and Scotland. Childless, despite seventeen pregnancies that had either ended in failure or produced heartrendingly short-lived offspring, in some respects she was a pitiable figure. But against all expectation she proved Britain’s most successful Stuart ruler.

Her reign was marked by many triumphs, including union with Scotland and glorious victories in war against France. Yet while her great general, the Duke of Marlborough, was performing feats of military genius, Anne’s relationship with his outspoken wife Sarah was becoming ever more rancorous. Political differences partly explained why the Queen’s earlier adoration for Sarah transformed to loathing, but the final rupture was precipitated by Sarah’s startling claim that it was the Queen’s lesbian infatuation with another lady-in-waiting, Abigail Masham, that had destroyed their friendship.

Having lost the will to continue an expensive war that the Marlboroughs and their political allies favoured, the Queen embarked upon a peace process that some condemned as a betrayal of the national interest. And, as it became clear that Anne did not have long to live, the nation became polarised by fears that she intended to bequeath her crown to her Catholic half brother, rather than the German Protestant cousin whom Parliament had designated her heir.

Drawing widely on unpublished sources, Anne Somerset vividly depicts the clashes of personality and party rivalries that aroused such strong feelings at the time. Traditionally depicted as a weak ruler dominated by female favourites and haunted by remorse at having deposed her father, Queen Anne emerges as a woman whose unshakeable commitment to duty enabled her to overcome private tragedy and painful disabilities, setting her kingdom on the path to greatness.

Editorial Reviews


"The formidable Anne Somerset this admirably objective study sets out to rescue Anne's unfortunate reputation from her critics...and restate the case for this shy and sickly ruler as one of our most unexpectedly effective monarchs...It has taken immense patience and skill create a new and subtler image of the last of the Stuart monarchs. Anne Somerset has done a real service both to us and to her namesake" Sunday Times "With a great deal of literary panache ... Queen Anne emerges as intelligent and sympathetic despite the cruelty of her gynaecological history" Antonia Fraser, Sunday Telegraph, Books of the Year "One of the most enjoyable biographies I've read in the past year, elegantly written and with an encyclopaedic grasp of the period. I loved every page of it...Somerset guides us expertly and effortlessly through the labyrinthine party politics of the reign...with flair and scholarship" Literary Review "This magisterial new biography paints a fascinating picture of an often-overlooked monarch...on the basis of this incisive and compelling portrait, none could argue that she did not keep the interests of her people close to her heart" Country Life

About the Author

Anne Somerset is the acclaimed biographer of Elizabeth I and the author of many books including Unnatural Murder, an account of the sensational Overbury murder, which was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger award for non-fiction; and The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3610 KB
  • Print Length: 641 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0007203764
  • Publisher: HarperPress (January 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005SC78W8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #842,821 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion April 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Anne Somerset has written some excellent historical biographies and, in this latest effort, she turns her attention to Queen Anne. This is an exhaustive and well researched biography about a woman who never thought she would become Queen. Her father, James, Duke of York, was the younger brother of Charles II. When he secretly married a woman already pregnant and not of royal blood, it caused a scandal that Charles II, who had only fairly recently regained the throne his father lost, was deeply unhappy with. Luckily for Anne, Charles refused her fathers rather unkind suggestion that his daughter Anne be beheaded, and took her side eventually. After a difficult start, James and Anne had two daughters, Mary and Anne. Having no living boy, and with Charles II childless, James re-married when he was widowed in that desperate search for an heir which has plagued so many monarchs before him. James eventually became King and, if she hoped to ever inherit the throne, Anne had to make a choice between her father's wish that she become a Catholic, or remain a Protestant as the people would not trust a Catholic monarch.

This book looks at the marriage of Anne's sister Mary to William of Orange and her own marriage to the compatible, amiable and devoted Prince George of Denmark. There is a terrible and tragic account of births, miscarriages, stillbirths, phantom pregnancies and early deaths. Anne herself endured pregnancy after pregnancy in her attempt to produce a healthy child and, when her father's wife had a healthy son, she was so horrified that she clung with desperate belief to the rumours that the baby was an imposter who had been smuggled into the palace in a warming pan.

During the whole of this book there is political turmoil, much related to the issue of the succession.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew I'd find Queen Anne so fascinating? December 20, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fabulous, amazing, thorough, engaging biography of a woman I didn't really know much about. Until I read a review of QUEEN ANNE in the London Review of Books, I never would have thought of purchasing this (I had to hunt down a UK seller, because it's not available in the US), and investing the (many) hours it took to finish it.

Very glad I did, though. Anne Somerset takes us from James II's near-disastrous marriage to Anne Hyde (a commoner), the mother of Queen Mary and Queen Anne, to the Glorious Revolution, through the strained relationship between Mary and Anne, and then to Anne's own ascension to the throne.

There's so much detail that it is a little overwhelming (did I mention that it took me forever to finish?), but if you want to understand Whig/Tory politics, the crazy relationship Anne had with the Duchess of Marlborough, and the nuts and bolts of the British involvement in the War of Spanish Succession, this is the book.

I can't recommend the text of the book enough. My only complaint is the notes are extremely disappointing (this would be a 4.5 star review, if I could). I love good, gossipy, annotated endnotes in a history, to lead me on to new and interesting books. Here, there are citations, sure, but they're all abbreviations and they look like they're in code.
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