The Lady In The Tower by Alison Weir

imageI think I’ve mentioned before my fascination with the Tudors, so when I saw this audiobook at my local library I couldn’t resist. Plus it was Alison Weir, whose books I like in general, regardless of their subject.

Of all Henry’s wives, Anne is probably the most interesting and the one who most influenced English history as it was Henry’s desire to marry her – after eight long years of trying to get a divorce – that led, in part, to his break with Rome and the forming of the Church of England. She is also probably the most disliked of all his wives – reviled, even, at the time for having stolen Henry’s heart from the beloved Katherine of Aragon, and the subject of much gossip and misunderstanding, both before and after her death.

This isn’t the first book on Anne I’ve read and it’s not the first time she has been written about by Weir but I haven’t got bored yet and, here, I found more to peak my interest and help fill in the gaps (possibly) of what I know. I say possibly because little is actually known about Anne, not even what she looked like – there is only one known confirmed likeness of her because they were all destroyed after she was executed. Much of what was written at the time was by people who disliked her and were biased against presenting a likeable or sympathetic person for the most part.

Weir manages to do that, though, allowing a picture of Anne to develop that is not quite the evil home wrecker she is often made out to be. There is no doubt she schemed and played politics but so, it seems, did most people back then. It was the way the world of the royal court worked and it was an accepted part of life. Perhaps that Anne tried to play the game as a woman was part of the problem, as was the fact that she threatened the established power of many of England’s richest families.

It will always be impossible to know exactly who she was and whether she was guilty of the crimes she died for but that is part of the fascination. Weir presents the facts, few as they are, and the conjecture, giving her opinion on what might or might not be true, coming to the conclusion she probably was innocent. I tend to agree.

For those who want to know more about Anne, this is a great book. She really is the focus, not Henry – though there is plenty of him and Cromwell for those interested in them too. It is full of little details, like her having a double fingernail, which make her come alive and feel less like a character, more like a person.

As an audiobook, it was easy to listen too, with good narration and pace. There was plenty to keep me listening, including a great chapter at the end that talked about ghost stories and legends relating to Anne. I have a huge desire now to go start spending nights in Norfolk (her birthplace) looking for a lady in white. I’ll let you know if I find her!

Emma

P.s. If you couldn’t guess, I really liked this book – a recommended read.

This Week, Next Week in Books (or not as the case may be): 9th August, 2015

So it’s Sunday and I failed miserably in all things blog-related last week, posting only one review – Taken for Dead by Graham Masterton – and struggling to keep up with visiting the sites I follow.

The problem was I spent way too much time on Pinterest looking at ways to set up home offices in small spaces and decorate a kids room with a Frozen theme that wasn’t – well – too Frozen themed because I just can’t go that far as much as I love my daughter.

I did manage to get a fair bit of reading done inbetween – I finished The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson and made it through most of Emma by Jane Austen but anything beyond that failed me. Still, there’s always this week, although I have no idea what I’ll be reading, possibly one of the two new audiobooks I picked up at the library…

A Mother’s Story by Amanda Prowse

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Jessica has just had the wedding of her dreams, and now she’s setting up a new home with her lawyer husband Matthew. Even better – they are expecting a child.

As they paint the nursery and shop for babygros, she plans for the joy that motherhood will bring. But Jessica’s experience is far from joyous. Why isn’t she transformed by maternal feelings? Where is the all-consuming love she’s supposed to feel for her child?

No-one told her that being a mum was so lonely and terrifying. No-one told her you don’t always love your baby. Perhaps it’s best if Jessica keeps that dark secret to herself for now…

Or The Lady In The Tower by Alison Weir

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The imprisonment and execution of Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, in May 1536 was unprecedented in English history. It was sensational in its day, and has exerted endless fascination over the minds of historians, novelists, dramatists, poets, artists and film-makers ever since.

Anne was imprisoned in the Tower of London on 2 May 1536, and tried and found guilty of high treason on 15 May. Her supposed crimes included adultery with five men, one her own brother, and plotting the King’s death.

Mystery surrounds the circumstances leading up to her arrest. Was it Henry VIII who, estranged from Anne, instructed Master Secretary Thomas Cromwell to fabricate evidence to get rid of her so that he could marry Jane Seymour? Or did Cromwell, for reasons of his own, construct a case against Anne and her faction, and then present compelling evidence before the King? Or was Anne, in fact, guilty as charged?

…or I may read one of the stack that currently seems to be threatening to topple over and off the sideboard!

What about you? What are you reading this week?

Emma

This week, I’m linking in with Kimberly at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and her Sunday Post. Head over to see what other bloggers have read, written about or just added to their shelves.

The Sunday Post

What I'm Reading This Week: 8th June 2015

Happy Monday everyone- I hope you had a good weekend. Mine was full of sunshine, family, and time in the garden – lovely. I’m hoping for more sun this week, even though I will be spending a lot of time on the road. Because of this, I’ll be audio booking it this week.

First up is Forensics by Val McDermid

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The dead talk. To the right listener, they tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died – and who killed them. Forensic scientists can use a corpse, the scene of a crime or a single hair to unlock the secrets of the past and allow justice to be done.

Bestselling crime author Val McDermid will draw on interviews with top-level professionals to delve, in her own inimitable style, into the questions and mysteries that surround this fascinating science. How is evidence collected from a brutal crime scene? What happens at an autopsy? What techniques, from blood spatter and DNA analysis to entomology, do such experts use? How far can we trust forensic evidence?

Looking at famous murder cases, as well as investigations into the living – sexual assaults, missing persons, mistaken identity – she will lay bare the secrets of forensics from the courts of seventeenth-century Europe through Jack the Ripper to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.

I’ve heard good things about this and am looking forward to finding out just how realistic some of my favourite crime novels are.

I’m following it up with The Smell of Almonds by Camilla Lackberg, an author I’ve only recently discovered.
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It’s less than a week until Christmas and policeman Martin Mohlin is begrudgingly accompanying his girlfriend to a family reunion on the tiny island of Valön outside of Fjällbacka. The connection to the mainland is cut off by a snowstorm and when the domineering patriarch Ruben collapses during Christmas dinner, Martin is forced to intervene. He soon establishes that Ruben was murdered and since they are completely isolated on the island, one of the family members must be murderer…

This is a novella so shouldn’t be too long.

In between time I’ll be finishing off Thomas Hardy from last week. What about you? What are you reading?

Emma

What I'm Reading this Week: 12th January, 2015

Afternoon everyone. Bit of a late start to my blogging week this week. Not sure why but today has just completely gotten away from me, as did the weekend. I really couldn’t believe it was Monday this morning. I need more time off to enjoy life! Oh well, on to my books for this week.

As predicted last week, Brave New World is taking a bit of time to read so I’m starting off this week’s what I’m reading with what I didn’t get finished last week. It’s not that it’s that long, I’m just struggling to get into it. I am finding many other things to do instead I’m afraid. It will be finished but when is another matter. In between times, this week I’ll be reading….

The Martian by Andy Weir which I’ve read good and not-so-good reviews for. Although, I’m not much of a one for review copies (too much pressure to read them), I did get one for this so thought I should give it a go.

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there. It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I’m also going to listen to A bunch of Sweet Peas by Henry Donald. This is an older book (published 1988) that I came across at my local library and I just liked the sound of it. Plus, it’s short and with Brave New World, I think I need something like this.

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In 1911, in the Scottish Border village of Sprouston, the young parish minister wrote to the Daily Mail for entry forms for its sweet pea competition. The top prize was a staggering £1000 and organizers predicted that as many as 15,000 would enter. He could not foretell that the paper’s estimate of the number of competitors would be more than doubled, or that a fortnight before the deadline a nation-wide drought would threaten the very existence of the sweet peas he was so painstakingly cultivating. This touching and beautifully illustrated tale is based on a true story.

And that is it for this week. Something old, something new, and something short and sweet. Seems like quite a good mix! What are you reading – something good I hope.

Emma

Once again, I’m linking in with Sheila at Book Journey, who has a weekly linky post, It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Click on the link to find out what Sheila and other book bloggers are reading.

The Dead by Howard Linskey

Title: The Dead
Author: Howard Linskey
Genre: Crime
Source: Library (audiobook)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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David Blake is a Newcastle gangster with a lot on his plate. He’s been accused of murdering a policeman’s daughter; his accountant has been arrested for murder and is refusing to give him the codes for his bank account; Serbian gangsters are trying to take over his Glasgow operation; and a Russian Oligarch wants to use his drug supply line to launch a terrorist attack. It’s all too much. For him and for me.