The Unhappiest Lady in Christendom by Alison Weir (Review)

The Unhappiest Lady in Christendom by Alison Weir

Blurb

Henry VIII’s third queen is dead, leaving the King’s only son without a mother and the country without a queen. And as preparations are being made for Queen Jane’s funeral, her stepdaughter, the Lady Mary, laments the country’s loss.

But, only a month later, the King has begun his search for a new wife. Will Mary accept this new queen, or will she be forced to live in the shadows of Queen Katherine, Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Jane for ever?

Review

I have read all the main novels from the Six Tudor Queens series but I have still got the short ebooks to finish off. This little short kept me occupied whilst I sat and waited after my second vaccine. 

This book begins at the death of Queen Jane and is told from the perspective of Lady Mary. Lady Mary loved Queen Jane because Queen Jane welcomed her and reunited her with her father and was a Catholic so when Queen Jane died Lady Mary was very upset and also felt sorry for her baby brother Prince Edward. 

Through this short book we see Mary work through her grief but also see her worry about what will happen to her next, now that Queen Jane is no longer there to be her friend at court. We also see that Mary’s health is not great in this book and that she is plagued by tooth ache. 

The main books from this series are all based on the wives of Henry VIII so it is nice to have a small book based on Lady Mary and to see her thoughts and feelings of her life as the daughter of Henry VIII. Her father hasn’t made life easy for her but Mary still loves him and wants to spend time with him but now she has a new worry in the form of a possible new step mother.

I really enjoyed this short story and I would love Weir to write a full book for each of the children of Henry VIII. I just really wanted this story to be longer. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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About the author

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Katharine Parr: The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir (Review)

Katharine Parr: The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir

Blurb

Two husbands dead; a life marred by sadness. And now Katharine is in love for the first time in her life.

The eye of an ageing and dangerous king falls upon her. She cannot refuse him. She must stifle her feelings and never betray that she wanted another.

And now she is the sixth wife. Her queenship is a holy mission yet, fearfully, she dreams of the tragic parade of women who went before her. She cherishes the secret beliefs that could send her to the fire. And still the King loves and trusts her. 

Now her enemies are closing in. She must fight for her very life.

KATHARINE PARR – the last of Henry’s queens. 

Alison Weir recounts the extraordinary story of a woman forced into a perilous situation and rising heroically to the challenge. Katharine is a delightful woman, a warm and kindly heroine – and yet she will be betrayed by those she loves and trusts most. 

Too late, the truth will dawn on her. 

Review

Katharine Parr is the one wife of Henry VIII that I have never really known much about and to be honest that is due to my own fault as I have never found her as interesting as the other wives. I now realise that I was very wrong about Katharine Parr, she was indeed a very interesting character. 

Katharine Parr had a life marred by sadness, she lost her father at an early age but had a happy childhood due to her aunt and uncle and her very forward thinking mother who believed women should have the same education as men. However, she had to leave the happy home to get married to her first husband and although her husband was friendly things were not as they seemed. Sadly, Katharine is widowed early but she soon finds happiness with her second husband and finds the love of a loving step daughter. Katharine’s life is happy but she is frustrated with the fact she has to keep her true beliefs hidden from the public eye. 

Sadly, Katharine is widowed again but happiness in the form of Tom Seymour presents itself but at the same time King Henry also wants her hand and because Katharine believes she can do some good she accepts and puts her own happiness on hold. I do believe though that the thought of being queen is also a big draw to marrying the king as in the book Katharine really does love her pretty gowns, jewellery and her major passion which is shoes. 

Katharine is a kind woman who wants to help her step children in any way she can and is an advocate for religion and education. The one problem I had with her was how heartless she could be and it was obvious she was not a mother herself. The things she said to people who had lost children were terrible and although she thought what she said was a help it really wasn’t. I also found her rather naive when it came to Tom Seymour. For such a strong woman it would appear she was easily deceived when it came to her fourth husband. 

This was an excellent read that I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved learning more about Katharine as a woman. She was strong willed and forward thinking for the time and because she had power she was able to get away with her beliefs. This is an excellent series of books and this was an excellent ending. The series teaches us about the queens of Henry VIII but not just their time as queen but their whole lives and that is the beauty of these books. I give this book 5 out 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Katheryn Howard: The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir (Review)

Katheryn Howard: The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir

Blurb

A naive girl, thrust forward by her ambitious family. A pretty girl, who has captured the heart of the King. Katheryn sings, she dances, she delights in the pleasures of being queen. The King tells the world she is his rose without a thorn.

But this young woman has a past of which Henry knows nothing. It comes back increasingly to haunt her, even as she courts danger yet again. For those who gather roses must beware of the thorns.

Review

I started reading this and could not put it down, thankfully I had handed in my latest assignment as I would have been thoroughly distracted. Alison Weir really does keep producing some amazing books and they seem to be getting better and better. 

Katheryn Howard is Henry VIII’s fifth wife and one who was used by her family and did not  remain Henry’s wife for long. Katheryn lost her mother at an early age and was then passed from one relation to another until she reached the household of her Grandam. The household of her Grandam contains many young women and these young women lack morals and soon Katheryn is following their example and also taking it further. 

When Katheryn serves Anna of Kleve she catches the King’s eye and so her uncle the Duke of Norfolk and her Grandam take advantage of this and make sure that the King only has eyes for Katheryn. 

Katheryn has lacked guidance and makes some naive decisions before she is married and sadly these come back to haunt her when she is married to Henry. Henry loves and adores Katheryn and will do anything for her happiness and Katheryn finds herself very happy whilst married to him but also she lives in constant fear.

Katheryn was basically a very naive and silly young woman who knew the risks but lived in a world of delusion where she thought she wouldn’t be found out and she was wrongly used by her family and those she trusted. 

I always felt sorry for Katheryn because if she had had better guidance as a child and teenager I believe she wouldn’t have made the decisions that she did but sadly she might still have been used by her family. Weir really builds a wonderful picture of Katheryn’s life and even though I know her story well I could not stop reading to see what happened next. I did want to shake Katheryn at times and tell her to grow up but this didn’t affect the love I have for this book. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom (Review)

Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom

Blurb

Summer, 1540. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the King’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . . 

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered – the formula has disappeared. Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovered nothing is as it seems . . .

Review

I was so excited to read another story about Matthew Shardlake as I thoroughly enjoyed the first book Dissolution. This book is set three years after the first book and finds Shardlake no longer in the employment or favour of Cromwell but quietly working as a lawyer in London.

Shardlake is defending a girl who is accused of murdering her cousin and must work quickly if he has any chance of saving her. However, during this time Cromwell throws a spanner in the works by giving Shardlake another case and not an easy one. Cromwell also gives Shardlake a rather uncouth assistant to help him called Barack who likes to call  people he doesn’t like a rather rude name.

Shardlake and Barack have to work on the two cases at the same time but the one for Cromwell is hampered constantly. People are trying to kill Shardlake and Barack and the people involved that could help the investigations are killed before they can help. The other problem is that Shardlake and Barack always seem to be one step behind the bad guys.

This book really kept me on my toes and I never worked out who was guilty for either crime until it is revealed until the end. I also enjoyed reading about how the Tudors considered humours to be the source of health and illness as I have just finished an assignment on health in ancient Greece and Rome and their health and treatments also relied on the balance of humours.

There are so many twists and turns in this book and it never stopped for a moment. I couldn’t put this book down and throughly enjoyed it, in fact I think I enjoyed it more than the first book in the series. I can’t wait to read more about Shardlake and I give this book 5 out of 5 books. 

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Purchase Links

 Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.

Dissolution by C. J. Sansom (Review)

Dissolution by C. J. Sansom

Blurb

It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066. Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved.

But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege – a black cockerel sacrificed on the altar, and the disappearance of Scarnsea’s Great Relic.

Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake’s investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes . . .

Review

This book was my buddy read and I came across this book because my buddy had suggested it, otherwise I might never have discovered the wonderful character of Shardlake.

I will be honest I struggled to put this book down once I became engrossed in the story and got acquainted with Shardlake’s character. Dr Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer and as well as having his own successful practice he also works for Cromwell and it is on Cromwell’s bidding that Shardlake finds himself at the monastery of Scarnsea. Shardlake uses his many skills in deduction to work out what exactly has been going on at Scarnsea and it is wonderful to see how he works everything out and puts together the truth. 

Matthew is Shardlake’s assistant in the investigation and a family friend who Shardlake feels greatly responsible for. Matthew clearly does not have the same skill set as Shardlake but he is useful for Shardlake’s protection and when Shardlake needs someone to look menacing. Matthew clearly has a great affection for Shardlake in return and is always checking on Shardlake’s welfare and I really enjoyed how their friendship shifted through the story. 

The monks in the monastery are I admit all suspicious and it made it hard for me to try and work out the murderer although I was pleased to find I was half correct in my own deductions. As the story unfolds it quickly becomes clear that all the monks could have had a reason to commit the crime. 

Sansom’s description of the different parts of London and Scarnsea are all excellent and the little extra details he gives about Cromwell’s office and other areas really helps set the scene and you soon realise that everything Sansom has described has a purpose, even if you do not see the significance right away. You can also see Sansom’s considerable experience in history as everything is well researched within the story. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I have ordered the next in the series as I can’t wait to see what Shardlake is up to next. I give this book 5 out 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction and a good crime thriller.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.

Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir (Review)

Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir

Blurb

Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to insure the royal succession. Now forty-six, overweight and unwell, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe’s most eligible princesses, but Anna of Kleve—a small German duchy—is twenty-four and eager to wed. Henry requests Anna’s portrait from his court painter, who enhances her looks, painting her straight-on in order not to emphasize her rather long nose. Henry is entranced by the lovely image, only to be bitterly surprised when Anna arrives in England and he sees her in the flesh. She is pleasant looking, just not the lady that Henry had expected.

Review

I will be honest I was not looking forward to this book as I have always felt really sorry for Anna of Kleve and thought this story would be hard to read. Poor Anna arranged to marry a much older man who is obese, and who hasn’t looked after himself and really does not have the best reputation with his past wives. She must have been terrified when she first met the King.

Anna has led a sheltered life controlled by her mother. She has not been allowed to learn music and her education has been limited because she has only been allowed to learn what is needed for a woman whose duty is to marry and be a good wife. This was always going to be a problem for Henry who liked his women to know music and be educated and then poor Anna could never live up to the portrait that had been painted of her. Henry had fallen in love with the portrait and was disappointed by Anna in real life.

Weir had embellished the story of Anna slightly which I can understand why because of what Henry had supposedly said but I am not sure I was fully onboard with it. I won’t say more as I don’t want to spoil it for you. Weir had made Anna a beautiful character, although she was horrified by Henry to start with she endeavoured to be the best wife she could be and when sadly the marriage was dissolved she endeavoured to be the best friend she could be to Henry and his children.

I loved Anna’s character, she was full of love and kindness and always wanted to do the best she could for everyone although she did have a bit of a wine problem and I will be honest I had a good giggle whenever she was drinking wine in the book. It would be a good drinking game to be honest, every time you read that Anna has a glass of wine you take a sip of your drink. Although Anna is left a good settlement I can’t help but wonder if she was been swindled out of her money.

This book is a beautiful story but it did pull at the heart strings and I did avoid reading it sometimes when I knew what was coming up. Another triumph by Weir but I have only given the book 4 out of 5 Dragons because I did not entirely agree with the one storyline.

Purchase Links

Book DepositoryFoylesWaterstonesWordery 

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you)

About the author

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Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

 

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Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir (Review)

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

About the author

9D684E2E-3884-47F4-94EF-93B01DB3585D_4_5005_c

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Blurb

The woman haunted by the fate of her predecessor.

Eleven days after the death of Anne Boleyn, Jane is dressing for her wedding to the King. She has witnessed at first hand how courtly play can quickly turn to danger and knows she must bear a son … or face ruin.

This new Queen must therefore step out from the shadows cast by Katherine and Anne. In doing so, can she expose a gentler side to the brutal King?

Jane Seymour. The third of Henry’s Queens. Her story.

Review

I will be honest straight away this is my favourite book so far from the Six Tudor Queens series by Weir and possibly the best book I have read so far this year. I could not put this book down and absolutely loved it!

The first thing I love about this book and the previous two is how the books entwine and you get to see the same scene but from different Queens’ perspectives. I love the different perspectives seen and the different feelings expressed about the same situation. This also shows the back stabbing nature of the court and how lethal it can be just dabbling in idle gossip.

Weir shows Jane Seymour as a wonderful character in this book and the way I always like to think of Jane Seymour. Jane is a timid, good natured creature, who has a deep faith and worries for her soul. Some people think Jane is the boring queen but I think she was a wonderful breath of fresh air after Anne Boleyn. Jane is a complete opposite of Anne Boleyn and that is what attracts Henry to her and although she doesn’t argue with him she has a deep inner strength. She gets the Princess Mary back to court and always tries to get Henry to do the right thing.

The description of Jane’s family home and family life before she goes to court is wonderfully detailed and a joy to read. I also really liked the characters of Jane’s brothers and her mother.

However, in this book poor Jane is haunted by a shadowy figure and every time she sees this figure tragedy follows. Is it a vision of Jane’s creating or real? We do not know but it is clear that Jane feels a deep sense of guilt over the death of Anne Boleyn.

I absolutely loved this book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the author’s notes at the end. I always enjoy reading about how Weir created the book. I highly recommend this book and the series so far. They contain love, intrigue, religion, drama, history and much more. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

Book DepositoryWaterstones

Reviews of previous books

Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession

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The Chateau of Briis: A Lesson in Love by Alison Weir (E-Short Review)

The Chateau of Briis: A Lesson in Love by Alison Weir

About the author

9D684E2E-3884-47F4-94EF-93B01DB3585D_4_5005_c

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Blurb

1515 – Dressed in wine-coloured satin, with her dark hair worn loose, a young Anne Boleyn attends a great ball at the French court. The palace is exquisitely decorated for the occasion, and the hall is full with lords and ladies – the dancing has begun. Anne adores watching the game of courtly love play out before her eyes, though she is not expecting to be thrown into it herself. But moments later, a charming young man named Philippe du Moulin approaches to ask for her hand in the dance. And before she can resist, so begins Anne’s first lesson in love.

Review

Another short story from the Six Tudor Queens series and I must admit I really enjoyed this one. It was somewhat more satisfying than The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today as that just left me feeling a bit frustrated with the story.

This is a wonderful little story but it was a little emotional rollercoaster. Anne Boleyn has her first lesson in love in this story and although it is only something Weir has made up it would explain a great deal about Anne Boleyn’s character. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her at times.

This little glimpse into Anne’s life in the French court is wonderful and full of detail. I throughly enjoyed it but again found it was very short, just a few extra pages and I would have been happier but it is a perfect little novella to read between Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession and Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen. I have given this story 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today by Alison Weir (E-Short Review)

The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today by Alison Weir

About the author

9D684E2E-3884-47F4-94EF-93B01DB3585D_4_5005_c

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Blurb

Jo, historian and long-term admirer of Anne Boleyn, takes a group on a guided tour of the Tower of London, to walk in the shoes of her Tudor heroine. But as she becomes enthralled by the historical accuracy of her tour guide and the dramatic setting that she has come to love, something spectral is lurking in the shadows . . .

Review

I am sure I have read this little story before but I don’t know where from as I have never owned it. I do not mind though as I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this little story again.

I have always been fascinated by the history of the Tower of London and have often thought it is probably the home to many ghosts so this little story is right up my street.

This little story centres around a tour group who Jo is in charge of and she books a special tour guide to take them all around the Tower. This tour guide is dressed up like Anne Boleyn and looks incredible, everyone is impressed. As the tour progresses though a spectral figure is spotted in another group.

I really enjoyed this story but it was just too short! Seven pages just wasn’t enough. I was begging Weir to make it longer but sadly no. I loved the detail in this story, the detail of the Anne Boleyn lookalike tour guide’s dress was fantastically described and had me hooked. I can sadly only give this short story 3 out of 5 Dragons because it was just too short for me.

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Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir (Review)

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir

About the author

9D684E2E-3884-47F4-94EF-93B01DB3585D_4_5005_c

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Blurb

The young woman who changed the course of history.

Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love.

But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.

Anne has a spirit worthy of a crown – and the crown is what she seeks. At any price.

Review

The life of Anne Boleyn is well known and one that has always had me fascinated. I will be  honest I know I shouldn’t like Anne Boleyn because of what happened to poor Katherine of Aragon but I don’t think anyone can pin that all on Anne Boleyn because Henry VIII would have divorced Katherine in the end as he was quite determined to have a son.

The moment I started reading this book I could not put it down and I absolutely loved what Weir did with the story of Anne Boleyn and I ended up seeing Anne in a very different light. Anne Boleyn was a well educated and very refined young woman. Her experiences in the courts of Burgundy and France set her up wonderfully to be a star in the English court and of course the King could not help but notice her.

Anne was the victim of ambition, her family’s ambition and her own. Weir showed Anne determined to keep her virtue intact but wanting the crown more than anything. Anne could see she could help make changes in the church, she could help the people if she was queen. However, things were also against her.

I really felt sorry for Anne in this book, she thought she could make changes but instead things were twisted against her and she had no way of surviving. The other element I enjoyed was how Weir showed Anne’s relationship with her daughter Elizabeth and it was different to what I expected but made a lot of sense.

At the end of this book I will be honest I cried my eyes out and it really left me feeling quite cold at the end. I knew the outcome obviously but how Weir ended the book was astonishing and very haunting, it is something I will not forget.

Weir really triumphed with this book and I will admit it is one of my favourite reads for this year and I can’t wait to read the next one. I highly recommend this book to all historical fiction fans and give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

 Book DepositoryWaterstones

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you)

 

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