When I saw The Creation of Anne Boleyn (in audio) up for review, I got super excited. You see, I love anything having to do with the Tudor clan. And Anne Boleyn, and her daughter Elizabeth, have always been a subject that I have found very interesting, and two people that I have always wanted to know more about.
The author calls this story “part biography, part cultural history.” She tells her version of Anne, a version that is not the typical one that you hear when people tell stories of this lady and her life. She believes that Anne was a good person, that she was just misunderstood, that the things we know of her are not true. She claims that other authors (who she names) have done Anne an injustice by not telling the true story, and done people an injustice because we could have learned a lot from her and her actions.
Some points she makes, I can see. Anne WAS mistreated in the end – people were against her, Henry wanted to be with someone else, lies were told (she was accused of having sexual relations with other men, including her own brother), and in the end, she was beheaded. Not only was she beheaded, but Henry did everything that he could to erase her from their home and to illiminate her from the minds of the people. Which I find funny considering she is one of the most popular members of royalty in British history.
I can also see that, yes, if you look at it all from Anne’s side, she wanted what she wanted and was willing to do anything to get that. Some people say that she was pushed into this by her family once Henry set his eyes on her, others say that this was all her idea. Either way, she wanted to be Queen – this is her goal – and it seems that once she set her mind on something, there was no stopping her. She even helped him find a way out of his marriage and assisted him politically throughout their relationship.
I don’t believe, however, that what we do know about her is all some sort of consipracy theory. Some things were made up about her, just like they are made up about other people in history, but the way the author talks, it’s as if the bad opinions that people have about her are completely wrong. Period. The end. They were made up and we shouldn’t believe them.
I also don’t believe that everyone else is wrong. And this is where I began to dislike the book. You see, the author comes across very condescending when she speaks of other authors who have written on the subjects of the Tudors and of Anne Boleyn (and, as I said earlier, she names them). Anyone who does not have the same opinion as her is ridiculed. She talks about the “inaccuracy” of their reports, about the lack of proof, without actually showing any proof of her own. She bases her own beliefs on what she knows of cultural history, using this to fill in the blanks.
She also has a few choice words to say about people that lived in Anne’s time, in particular one important friend of Henry’s first wife. It seems that everything he said about Anne was a lie, at least in the author’s opinion, and she at one point goes so far as to say “like you can believe what he said.”
I can’t say that I hated this book because I did enjoy quite a bit of it – it was interesting to see another view on Anne, to get an idea of what things would have been like for her, to be given a look at things through Anne’s eyes – and it was well written. I just couldn’t get past the way she spoke of other people. It just seemed like she was really angry about the whole thing or at least that’s the way it came across to me.
The narrarator, Barbara Rosenblat, did an amazing job, I must say. She really kept my attention and got into the book as if it were her own. The way she expressed the author’s words really drew me back into listening to the story, even though there were a few times when I was ready to give up. At the same time, the way she told the story may have been why I disliked this book. There were times that, while listening, I would get really tense, as if I were standing there watching a heated argument that was really close to becoming physical. The emotions she put into the words, the emotions I believe the author was trying to express, came across very strong.
Having discussed this with my mother – my sounding board – we’ve both decided that there is a possibility that the narrarator did TOO good a job. And, because of this, I did purchase a copy of the book to read. Who knows. I may love it if I read it myself. We’ll just have to see.
You can find Meghan (that’s Meghan spelled the right way) over on her book-ish blog The Gal in the Blue Mask. She’s an avid reader, a book editor, a story teller, a purveyor of delectable fare and pulchritudinous confections, and the best aunt in the world. She loves gardening, hiking, cooking and spending time at the zoo, library and museums. She may not be able to find her wallet, car keys or sunglasses, but she always knows where her Kindle is.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Audible.com. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.