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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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In this biography of Mary Boleyn, Alison Weir attempts to debunk many of the myths and rumors surrounding the sister of Anne Boleyn. Yes, she was the mistress of two kings. No, this was not a position she sought or ever publicized. The book also says that Henry VIII was probably the father of Mary's daughter Katherine Carey. And illustrations point to a remarkable likeness between the two. It's a good book that gives Mary some redemption. Unlike many of the film or television portrayals of Mary, this is the real deal. ( )
  briandrewz | May 19, 2016 |
Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII had a love affair that catalyzed a political and religious revolution in England. But years before they married, Henry had an affair--no one knows for how long, or how serious--with Anne's sister Mary. After writing numerous books about Henry VIII and his wives, Weir has set out to delve into the history of Mary Boleyn.

The problem is, there isn't much history to delve into. We have two letters by her, and some information about her travels during young adulthood. But we don't know what she looked like (no portrait has been authenticated, and the portraits associated with her have a very low probability of actually being her), or what color hair she had, or when she was born, or if she was older or younger than Anne, or when she left France, or what her feelings were about any of the men in her life, or who fathered some of her children, or how many children she had, or anything at all, really. And that's my issue with this book. Weir has clearly put in due diligence to discover everything she can find about Mary, but there just doesn't seem to be much known. And so instead the majority of this book is taken up with either mocking other scholars' theories about Mary (and rightfully so--the fanciful, downright prurient language they use to describe this woman they know nothing about, whose sex life is a near complete mystery to everyone, is shockingly unprofessional) or making up her own theories.

I've been impressed with Weir's scholarship and careful weighing of fact vs possibilities before, but I think she goes a bit overboard into fiction here. She theorizes all sorts of things, based on very little evidence indeed. One of Mary's children named one of her children "William," and from this Weir concludes that William Stafford was a good step-father to the Mary's children and that they loved him. What the heck? William is a perfectly ordinary, very common name! Or Weir uses the royal imagery in a poem by Sir Philip Sidney (when he was courting Katherine Carey, Mary's eldest child) as proof that Katherine was secretly Henry VIII's bastard daughter. Again, that's very flimsy indeed! By the end of the "biography," I was very frustrated with Weir. I think she did her reputation more harm than good with this book. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
I got this book as a free book one of Goodreads.com giveaways.

This book was a great read for me since I love history. This told me everything I could ever want to know about Mary Boleyn and corrected some of the many misconceptions there are about Mary. If you love history and would like to know more about Mary Boleyn and her life this is the book for you.

( )
  tianicolle | Jan 27, 2016 |
I got this book as a free book one of Goodreads.com giveaways.

This book was a great read for me since I love history. This told me everything I could ever want to know about Mary Boleyn and corrected some of the many misconceptions there are about Mary. If you love history and would like to know more about Mary Boleyn and her life this is the book for you.

( )
  tianicolle | Jan 27, 2016 |
This felt like left over research and was more disconnected than most of Weir's nonfiction. But not much can be done when there isn't much information to go on. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
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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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