QAB Book Review:
ANNA OF KLEVE, QUEEN OF SECRETS
by Alison Weir
Today, Alison Weir’s highly anticipated fourth novel of her Six Tudor Queens Series, Anna of Kleve, Queen of Secrets, releases in the United Kingdom. Queenanneboleyn.com was blessed to be sent an advanced copy. We are delighted to review what we suspect will become a controversial fictional accounting of Anna of Kleve’s life story.
Knowing very little about Anna, I was fortunate to learn of her factual life story by recently reading the outstanding biography Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister, by Heather Darsie. The book released earlier this month. Alison also recommends Elizabeth Norton’s biography Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII’s Discarded Bride. With some knowledge under my belt, I was able to sort out fact from fiction in the novel. Alison’s end notes were also quite helpful in that regard. (Do not fear. Whether you are knowledgeable of Anna’s life story or not, the novel is well worth the read.)
Though packed with factual history, Alison’s storytelling takes center stage in this novel, Anna crafted both through a factually accurate historical timeline (at least thought to be factually accurate by some respected historians, albeit debate exists among them) and fictional plot. After all, this novel explores the “Queen of Secrets“. It is “Anna’s secrets” where the fiction reigns supreme, all drawn from a kernel of truth from history and resulting author speculation that will spring forth debate and, yes, controversy. Alison admits she expects some readers will disagree with the plot twists she weaves into the storyline. That is okay. It really is.
(Hint folks, this is a historical fiction novel. If you are seeking the facts, read non-fiction material.)
Whether the reader agrees with the “secrets” explored, the plot is solidly crafted, fast-paced and intriguing… and depending on your point of view, quite plausible. Alison does not simply pull her plot moves out of thin air. They spring from the reporting from contemporary sources and Henry’s own observations shared with Thomas Cromwell and others. So, let’s move past that and on to the story-telling, which from a literary standpoint is excellent. Beyond Anna, Alison does a wonderful job crafting the historical figures and fictional characters that surround her, weaving in historical detail that increases the believability of Anna’s life story.
This is the first novel in the Six Queens Novel Series that explores a Queen Consort that lives well beyond the life of Henry VIII, carrying to her death in 1557, her “secrets” explored into the reign of Queen Mary Tudor. I enjoyed “the post-Henry Era”, in particular, the plotline exploring Anna’s suspected conspiring against Mary with Elizabeth and the French — and also her suspected involvement in Wyatt’s Rebellion. Alison shares her expertise in this period of Anna’s life here today at the website. Do enjoy Anna of Kleve’s Evil Genius to enjoy this fascinating historical accounting.
Anna of Kleve, Queen of Secrets is an outstanding addition to Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens Novel Series. Dive in and join the inevitable discussion. Determined to not drop spoilers beyond one hint that Alison dropped herself three years ago in the video above, I will leave the secrets lay for your own discovery. Do dive in.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alison Weir is the United Kingdom’s most popular and best selling female historian. Alison’s first published work, Britain’s Royal Families, introduced the world to the now recognized genre of “popular history”, and her sales tell the story. Readers purchased more than 2.3 million books, over 1,000,000 in the United Kingdom, and more than 1,300,000 books in the United States. Rich in detailed research, Alison’s engaging prose captured the interest and imaginations of countless people, instilling a love of history that influenced the career paths of historical fiction writers, historians, and teachers, while also greatly increasing knowledge of medieval English history among people throughout the world. For more information on Alison Weir, visit her websites at ALISON WEIR: U.K. HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR and ALISON WEIR TOURS.