Review: Anne of Kleve, The Princess in the Portrait by Alison Weir

by 10/06/2019 0 comments
I was on a bit of a historical fiction binge this summer, specifically Tudor England. Let's face it, my fascination with this era is never going away. As soon as I saw the fourth instalment in Weir's series, I snatched it up and proceeded to read it very quickly. These novels provide a glimpse into the lives of Henry VIII's wives, from their youth right up until their deaths, and each thus far is riveting.

Series: Six Tudor Queens, #4
My Rating: 5/5
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This novel opens with Anna's engagement, but to King Henry VIII. Anna is young, and has been raised to adhere to her role as a daughter and a princess, and although the engagement is not one of her choosing, she's willing to follow through it as is her duty. However, in a surprising twist, she falls in love with a young aristocrat and experiences her first kiss which ends with the loss of her virginity. This encounter leaves Anna sorrowful as she can never be with the man she truly loves. And it ties beautifully into history as it provides the grounds for King Henry's suspicions that Anna is "no maid."

For this is the reason that Henry VIII wanted nothing to do with his fourth wife; or at least one of them. It's no secret that he found Anna unattractive, and that he stated she smelled foul and had a soft belly and breasts, among supposed other truths that confirmed in his mind that his bride was not a virgin. I thought this rather a brilliant stroke by Weir, who imagines that Anna engages in a sexual encounter early, gives birth to a baby and that Henry, who had both wives and mistresses immediately saw that her body was altered by that pregnancy. Could this have been why the king so disliked his fourth wife? Or were these words said merely of a woman Henry had no desire to bed? We'll never really know, but it certainly made for interesting and realistic story telling.

Anna navigates  the political waters of Henry VIII court wisely even though she time and again is pressed to debase her royal status. Luckily, she is much loved by Henry once their marriage is annulled and well kept, and Anna even finds love again. In this novel, we side a King Henry that sometimes history forgets, that Henry Tudor was sensitive and even kind hearted. Since Anna outlives Henry, we see him age and hear his last words to Anna and I was very moved by that scene in particular. We also saw how Anna manages after the death of this infamous king, into an era of Protestantism and financial waste.

A novel spans three Tudor monarchs, this study of Anne of Cleves was poignant, polished and praise worthy.

Happy Reading,

Jewels E


I'm a thirty something girl who loves to read, write and dream. Because I'm so addicted to the written word in all its forms, I created this blog to share the books that devastate me with you.