BLURB: “The fall of Anne Boleyn and her brother George is the classic drama of the Tudor era. The Boleyns had long been an influential English family. Sir Edward Boleyn had been Lord Mayor of London. His grandson, Sir Thomas, had inherited wealth and position, and through the sexual adventures of his daughters, Mary and Anne, ascended to the peak of influence at court. The three Boleyn children formed a faction of their own, making many enemies: and when those enemies secured Henry VIII’s ear, they brought down the entire family in blood and disgrace. George, Lord Rochford, left no children. Mary left a son by her husband, William Carey – Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon. Anne left a daughter, Elizabeth I – so like her in many ways and a sexual politician without rival.”
REVIEW: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a concise, well-written and highly informative text detailing the lives of the Boleyn family – in the main, Thomas Boleyn, his children Anne, George and Mary, George’s wife Jane, Mary’s son Henry and Anne’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. Loades deals with each of these individuals in a sensitive way, looking at a variety of interpretations from other historians and contemporaries to create a well-constructed picture of the members of this great family. I did find a few problems within the novel -for example, Loades’ assentation that Mary gave birth to her son Henry before her daughter, Catherine. I have never read of this anywhere before, not even in biographies specifically on Mary Boleyn, and am more than a little intrigued as to where Loades obtained this information. However, the book was extremely well-balanced in its views and interpretations, and Loades seeks to dispel many of the myths surrounding the Boleyn children – he stresses both the unlikelihood of George Boleyn being homosexual (backed up by the emergence of his bastard children during Elizabeth’s reign) and also seems convinced, as I am, of Anne and George’s innocence. Loades also looks closely at how Anne Boleyn’s early death and her genes may have influenced the life of her daughter, who grew up to be, arguably, England’s greatest monarch. Overall, although there were a few points that I hold disagreement with, I would highly recommend this book.