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Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings by Alison…
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Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings

by Alison Weir

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5174828,807 (3.62)1 / 29
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Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
I really liked this book. It's a new angle on the well-covered area of Tudor history, and I really enjoyed Weir's explanations of how she reconstructed Mary's life, and where and why she disagreed with other historians. I also was happy that Weir was very clear when she was speculating about unknown facts. If you like this time period, and you have a high tolerance for reading about the historical process, you will most likely enjoy this book. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
This is really a treatise of what can or cannot be verified in Mary Boleyn's life. It was tedious; a big disappointment from a talented writer like Weir. ( )
  VivienneR | Feb 14, 2018 |
Alison Weir is one of my favourite authors, though she wouldn’t be if all her books were as off-topic and tedious as this one.

Having had similar experiences with this author’s “biographies” on Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isaballa of France, and – most notably – Katherine Swynford, I did wonder in advance if this volume on Mary Boleyn would be in the same mould.

It is, with only the off-topic account of Katherine Swynford being a bigger disappointment. I got the impression early on the the author wanted to use this book as a way to debunk myths about Mary. I wish she could've found a more engaging way of doing it.

Mary Boleyn is another historical woman of whom little details are known today. As a result, the reader is subjected to a book featuring repeated phrases like, “we do not know”, “can’t be sure”, “there is no evidence”, “there is no record”, “this is unlikely”, “Mary may have been there”, “probably was not”, “possibly was”, etc.

This produces a tedious read, telling the reader everything that Mary didn’t – or *probably* didn’t – do, while revealing little of what she did – or *possibly* did – do.

As I predicted – after reading those other “biographies” mentioned above – much of the narrative is about the more well-known people of Mary’s time, particularly Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. This means pages often go by without Mary being mentioned, and often when she is, it is just that – a mention.

I don’t see why such space should be devoted to Henry VIII’s affairs with other women. I realise the author is trying to draw comparisons, but to me, it feels needlessly off-topic, or a way to fill the pages up in the absence of info on Mary.

The first chapter proved especially tedious, dragging on and on about whether or not Mary was born before Anne. Some may argue that it shows how thorough the author was being, but for me it’s just boring to read. It’s like filler material, as are the two appendixes at the end.

The first appendix is among the most interesting parts of the book, despite it being off-topic again. It follows what happened to Mary’s family after she died, and names some of her ancestors. I was surprised to learn that P. G. Wodehouse and Winston Churchill are among her descendants.

I didn’t bother to read the second appendix, as descriptions of portraits aren’t of interest to me.

Overall, this misleadingly-named book is a huge let down by a talented author. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Jan 6, 2018 |
I really liked this book. It's a new angle on the well-covered area of Tudor history, and I really enjoyed Weir's explanations of how she reconstructed Mary's life, and where and why she disagreed with other historians. I also was happy that Weir was very clear when she was speculating about unknown facts. If you like this time period, and you have a high tolerance for reading about the historical process, you will most likely enjoy this book. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
I've been wanting to read this for quite a while, and was finally able to sit down and spend the time to read.

Mary Boleyn has always fascinated me, mostly because she is usually portrayed so badly - as a whore, or as someone a little slow-witted and unwilling to stand up for herself.

Weir's book is I believe, the first full length biography on Mary. I especially enjoyed reading about Mary's early years at French court, something I don't know a whole heck of a lot about, but certainly reads like a soap opera! There's a lot of background information about the era Mary lives in as well (most of which I already was familiar with).

Because there is not a lot of factual information about Mary Boleyn, there is a certain amount of text devoted to her family, other families who lived near them, etc., but I feel it does serve to help balance out what otherwise might be too short of a book.

I did have to rate the book 4 stars because there is a lot of repetition in the book, especially on issues (to me) that are minor - for example, a good 20 pages on whether Anne or Mary is the elder - does this really matter at all?

All in all, this book is good, just not a great read.

( )
  anastaciaknits | Oct 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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This book is gratefully dedicated to

my editor, Anthony Whittome,

to mark his retirement
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Mary Boleyn has gone down in history as a "great and infamous whore."
Chapter 1
Blickling Hall, one of England's greatest Jacobean showpiece mansions, lies not two miles northwest of Aylsham in Norfolk.
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Book description
Alison Weir built her reputation as an acclaimed, trusted historian with her nonfiction books, and this latest offering about the life of Mary Boleyn continues this esteemed tradition.

Bestselling British historian and novelist Alison Weir reconstructs the real story of the much-misrepresented Mary Boleyn. The mistress of kings, Mary was the lover of both Francis I of France and Henry VIII of England; sister to the infamous Anne, she has alternatively been labeled as a victim and a whore, a woman whose star rose and fell in the glittering Tudor court, whose life ended in banishment and relative obscurity when she dared to marry for love. Through Alison Weir's gripping exploration of Mary's life, a nuanced and accurate portrait of this fascinating woman emerges for the first time.
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Presents a historical profile of Henry VIII's mistress and the sister of Anne Boleyn, examining her affair with Francis I of France, rise and fall in the Tudor court, and obscure later years after she married for love.

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