From Publishers Weekly
Rejecting as myth that Henry VIII, desirous of a son and a new queen, asked his principal adviser Thomas Cromwell to find criminal grounds for executing Anne Boleyn, the prolific British historian Weir (The Six Wives of Henry VIII
) concludes that Cromwell himself, seeing Anne as a political rival, instigated one of the most astonishing and brutal coups in English history, skillfully framing her and destroying her faction. Ably weighing the reliability of contemporary sources and theories of other historians, Weir also claims that though perhaps sexually experienced, Anne was technically a virgin before sleeping with Henry. Anne was also, Weir posits, a passionate radical evangelical, with considerable influence over Henry regarding Church reform. Weir wonders if Anne's childbearing history points to her being Rh negative and thus incapable of bearing a second living child. Dissecting four of the most momentous months in world history and providing an eminently judicious, thorough and absorbing popular history, Weir nimbly sifts through a mountain of historical research, allowing readers to come to their own conclusions about Henry's doomed second queen. 15 pages of color photos. (Dec.)
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Acclaimed novelist and historian Weir continues to successfully mine the Tudor era, once again excavating literary gold. This time around, Anne Boleyn falls under her historical microscope. Though Boleyn’s life has already been dissected by a bevy of distinguished scholars, novelists, and filmmakers, Weir nevertheless manages to introduce a fresh slant on the ill-fated second wife of Henry VIII. Focusing almost exclusively on Anne’s final months, she paints a portrait of an impassioned religious reformer who aroused the suspicions and the animus of a number of court insiders, including the influential Thomas Cromwell. Although it cannot be disputed King Henry desperately desired a male heir, it appears there were more politically complex motives behind the plot to derail the unpopular queen. Caught in an inescapable web of royal intrigue and maneuvering, Anne steadfastly maintained her innocence against a host of trumped-up charges. Weir’s many fans and anyone with an interest in this time period will snap up this well-researched and compulsively readable biography. --Margaret Flanagan