After the death of Henry’s beloved third wife, Jane Seymour, the aging and ponderous monarch searches for a new bride who can increase his count of heirs. Anna of Kleve, a young woman from one of the small German principalities becomes the chosen one, and what follows is the story of a woman who was rejected almost as soon as she was married.
I struggled to maintain interest in this book (spoilers ahead). The author’s choice to have Anne birth an illegitimate child while in her teens was highly speculative and somewhat offputting. This was coupled with a historical writing style that was highly literal and had little symbolism and foreshadowing. Many times, the narrative contained specific and lengthy descriptions of items and clothing, and though doubtless designed to create an atmosphere, it often felt like an info dump.
While the first person narrator (Anna) felt fully fleshed out as a character, the speculative nature of the initial events shed doubt on whether the character shown in the book was anything like the original wife of Henry VIII. Henry himself is adequately repulsive, alternating between kindness and cruelty. Cromwell was interesting, but fairly flat. Anne’s retainers from Kleve were my favorite characters in the book.
Fans of Alison Weir’s earlier books in the Six Tudor Queens series will enjoy seeing the story of Henry’s fourth wife as well as the introduction of young Katheryn Howard (soon to be the fifth).
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.