Book: Mary Boleyn: The Mistress Of Kings by Alison Weir
Published September 2012|Published by Ballantine Books|416 pages|Own the paperback
Part of a series? No
Genre: Non-fiction: History- Tudor England/Biography
Goodreads.com Summary: New York Times bestselling author and noted British historian Alison Weir gives us the first full-scale, in-depth biography of Mary Boleyn, sister to Queen Anne as well as mistress to Anne’s husband, Henry VIII—and one of the most misunderstood figures of the Tudor age. Making use of extensive original research, Weir shares revelations on the ambitious Boleyn family and the likely nature of the relationship between the Boleyn sisters. Unraveling the truth about Mary’s much-vaunted notoriety at the French court and her relations with King François I, Weir also explores Mary’s role at the English court and how she became Henry VIII’s lover. She tracks the probable course of their affair and investigates the truth behind Mary’s notorious reputation. With new and compelling evidence, Weir presents the most conclusive answer to date on the paternity of Mary’s children, long speculated to have been Henry VIII’s progeny. Alison Weir pieces together a life steeped in mystery and misfortune, debunking centuries-old myths to give us the truth about Mary Boleyn, the so-called “great and infamous whore.”
Tudor England is one of my favorite periods in history, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to get it.
It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The thing with Mary is that very little is known about her, so it was of Weir trying to dispel all the myths surrounding her. It was more along the lines of what we know and think we know about her and why they’re correct (or not correct). We learn a lot about her family and how she didn’t seem to have a huge impact in a time that had a lot going on. It really was more about what we don’t know than what we do know.
Mary, as a person, was pretty unremarkable, especially with how little information there is about her, but Weir did the best she could. Learning more about her 2 husbands was really interesting, but she spent a little too much time on possible birth dates for both Anne and Mary. It really seemed like their ages were going to be important- only for it to not be as important as I expected.
I did like this book, but it was just too much of a stretch. There just isn’t enough to fill pages upon pages. I found myself getting slightly frustrated with how pop culture gets history wrong. It has to be frustrating to see t.v. shows and movies take liberties with history, but at the same time, it was frustrating to see her take it so seriously. She is very readable, and she has an eye for detail, but I really felt like she lost something with this one.
I think the part about how she wasn’t this great and infamous whore was the most interesting part of the book. Weir goes into quite a bit of detail, and the idea that if she had such a reputation, there would probably be more in terms of records.
Final thoughts: I liked it, but it was more speculation and debunking of myths than anything else. I think it would have worked slightly better as a biography of the Boleyn family as a whole. It gets 3 stars.