We all know Henry VIII had 6 wives, we all know the names of some in particular or even all. But Henry’s fourth wife Anna of Kleve seems to be the least discussed. Who was she? Why did Henry divorce her? What happened to her? These are all answered in this book, yes it’s historical fiction and not all aspects are factually supported but it’s a fantastic read! Weir has implemented her own theories which work well to give us insight in to the wife that outlived Henry and all of his wives.
The book begins im 1530 with Anna as a child in her home of Kleve. She is the eldest daughter of the Duke Johann III of Kleve. Anna as a child was betrothed to the heir of the Duke of Lorraine. As a reader we discover her childhood, family and her early adult life before she was betrothed to Henry VIII.
There is loss, heartbreak and a huge secret which I won’t share and spoil but which goes on to impact the rest of her life. Personally I am unsure if I believe this secret but it fits in so well with the story Weir has provided that it did not take away any enjoyment! This is after all fiction.
We follow her journey to England which results in a bit of embarrassment for her and Henry. Was this embarrassment the beginning of the end for their marriage? Or was what happened on their wedding night to blame?
They were married in 1540 but the marriage only lasted months and remained unconsummated. Weir refreshingly looks at what we already know and gives a new idea on what could have been the reason for the marriage remaining uncomsummated.
Following her divorce we follow Anna through her life as she remains in England. Henry’s subsequent marriages to Katheryn Howard and Katherine Parr are also covered in this book from Anna’s point of view which is refreshing! As is her relationship with Henry’s children.
Weir is fantastic at providing an idea of how Anna must have felt leaving her family, moving to a country where she could barely speak the language and her impression of Henry VIII and the Tudor court.
These novels are fantasticly written and Weir paints the Tudor world so well that you can almost see the palaces and rooms as they’re described.
I really enjoyed this and look forward to book 5, the story of Katheryn Howard.
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Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this from NetGalley and the publisher but all opinions are my own.