Anne Boleyn is one of the most famous Queens of England. Typically in literature she is described as the manipulative schemer who lured Henry VIII from his devoted wife Katharine of Aragon and later met her death on (probably trumped up) charges of Adultery, Incest and Treason.
In this book, Denny presents a different view of Anne, as a victim of Henry’s cold blooded-ness. She asserts that Henry relentlessly pursued Anne, who resisted because of his marriage to Katharine. Anne finally succumbed to Henry’s advances and was then cast aside when it no longer suited him to be married to her.
The book is written in a very ‘readable’ way. I often find non-fiction to be somewhat dry; however this book flowed easily and held my interest throughout.
It has obviously been very well researched, and Denny is clearly a Boleyn enthusiast, with a lot of passion for her subject. However, this is a double edged sword. While I firmly believe that it is important for any biographer to really care about their subject, Denny’s own view means that this book is extremely biased. Katharine of Aragon is described as a vicious, manipulative and unreasonable woman, who lied to fulfill her ambition to become Queen of England. Anne is painted almost as a saint, who could do no wrong and was blameless in every respect.
Joanna Denny wrote this book to bring balance to the general view of Anne; however, she has not created balance but has merely tipped the scales all the way to the other side. She claims that the critics of Anne are biased – and this may well be true – but unfortunately, Denny shows herself to be equally as biased. The women in Anne’s world are portrayed as evil and two faced, with the exception of Elizabeth I, Anne’s daughter.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Anne or the Tudor period, but I do not think that this book is ‘the truth’ about Anne Boleyn, as the author claims.