I have ploughed my way through many books about Anne Boleyn and her spectacular fall in 1536. Many of those books were brilliant, some not so brilliant. Among the best are authors and historians such as Eric Ives whose biography of Anne is superb.
When I first heard about this book I wondered what would be so different about it that would make it stand out when so many books have already been written about Anne. I read it with a completely open mind, while wondering what I would gain from it. What I discovered was that I gained an enormous amount from it. Let's make it clear that this look at Anne's fall is not intended as an attempt to replicate what has gone before. Ives' biography of Anne, while superb, is not for a novice or the feint hearted! This is an entirely different approach to the subject. It is intended to be a clear, concise and easily digestible reference for Anne's fall, which I think achieves it's primary purpose.
It sets out a day to day diary of events building up to Anne's execution in May 1536, setting out details of the main characters involved. Most importantly of all it does so using all of the original source material available, with explanatory commentary by the author, Claire Ridgway. All angles of the story are looked at and researched, and all possible causes of the tragedy are investigated and dissected. But although Claire gives her personal views, backed up with compelling and logical argument, she makes it clear that the story is open to different interpretations, meaning we as readers are allowed our own opinions, whilst fully appreciating the logic behind the writer's views.
The greatest achievement of this book is that if you are a complete novice to the story of Anne Boleyn then you will feel, after reading it, that you will be able to talk with confidence about the subject. Yet even if you are not a novice to the story then you will find everything you know, or thought you knew, is contained here in what is a comprehensive, while readable look at the story of Anne's fall.
I think that's what makes this book so unique and so worth reading. It gives all of the information you need to know in order to understand Anne's fall, leaving out nothing, but it does so in a way that I don't think has been achieved before i.e. in a way that anyone can read and enjoy with ease.
"Review based on Advance Reader Copy"