Read My Lady of Cleves: A Novel of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes Online


Written by world-renouned historical novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes, My Lady of Cleves gives readers an intimate portrait of the warm, unpretentious princess who never expected to become Queen of England. Knowing the king's ravenous desire for a son, and aware of the disastrous consequences of not bearing an heir, Anne of Cleves bravely took on the duty of weathering thWritten by world-renouned historical novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes, My Lady of Cleves gives readers an intimate portrait of the warm, unpretentious princess who never expected to become Queen of England. Knowing the king's ravenous desire for a son, and aware of the disastrous consequences of not bearing an heir, Anne of Cleves bravely took on the duty of weathering the Tudor King's temper, whims, arrogance, and irresponsible passions--and won the hearts of his subjects in the process.A treat for readers of Tudor fiction and those fascinated by the complex relationships of Henry VIII and his wives, My Lady of Cleves leads readers into a world of high drama and courtly elegance....

Title : My Lady of Cleves: A Novel of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781402214318
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 331 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

My Lady of Cleves: A Novel of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves Reviews

  • Serra Swift
    2019-04-20 09:12

    I initially passed this book up at the bookstore, because the first two or three chapters were clunky and slow. My mom ended up buying it later, and after reading it passed it on to me as a "must read." I must say that after finishing the book, I agree.The book was written in 1946, so the writing style is a little archaic (full of adverbs and vocabulary that has been all but dropped by our generation), but the story is compelling and thoughtful. Anne of Cleves is my favorite of the Henry wives, so I naturally enjoyed her positive portrayal. I liked the suggestions that she was not all good--her want for vengeance and Henry's hardship and humiliation was interesting; I wish the book had delved into it a bit more. The book's portrayal of Katherine Howard is that of an innocent girl drawn into the sexual machinations of her "protectors," and I feel that this portrayal is far more likely (given she was of nobility and raised in a Dowager household with very loose morals) than that in the Showtime show "The Tudors," which portrays her as nothing more than an ambitious slut. Over all, this book earns 5 stars from me because of its attention to character and because I feel it did Anne of Cleves justice---something that history often fails to do. The fact that we have a novelization of her life at all makes me happy, because so often she is dismissed as "the one Henry didn't want." I loved the portrayal of her humanity and her overcoming of obstacles. It's a great book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

  • Orsolya
    2019-05-09 06:51

    Henry VIII’s marital woes and wives are still the talk of gossip over 500 years later. One can only imagine what he would say about that? Even with bawdy talk, the least-discussed wife seems to be #4: Anne of Cleves. Perhaps it is because Henry and Anne had an amicable divorce with her continuing to live happily in England after the fact as Henry’s ‘sister’ making her the lest dramatic of the wives. Possibly, it is because of her personal countenance and demeanor as the opposite of a troublemaker. Whatever it may be; Anne was still cut from a remarkable cloth. Margaret Campbell Barnes focuses on wife #4 in her historical fiction novel, “My Lady of Cleves”. Generally, Barnes has the habitual behavior of beginning her novels rather slowly and not focusing on the main character at hand. Surprisingly, this is not the case with “My Lady of Cleves” as the novel immediately highlights Anne and jumps into the beginning of her marriage to King Henry. This, alongside the fact that “My Lady of Cleves” isn’t as fluffy as the HF novels lining many of today’s shelves (“My Lady of Cleves” was published in 1949); makes for valuable reading. “My Lady of Cleves” is a form of entertainment but still rich with history. That being said, Barnes does take historical liberties with the story with some inaccuracies and with completely contrived plotlines such as the fictional romance between Anne and the court painter of the Tudors, Hans Holbein. Thus, some of the novel is simply “for fun” and not to be taken seriously.The characterization of Anne in “My Lady of Cleves” is quite rich as Barnes gives her various layers and proper growth. Usually, Anne is portrayed very stereotypically and by-the-box with all authors making her seem one-way but Barnes instead gives her new personality traits which are believable and makes her come alive on an entirely different plane. “My Lady of Cleves” is certainly excellent in this way. In fact, Barnes does well with developing all of the character figures in “My Lady of Cleves” and giving them all striking characteristics. This personification and articulate writing gives heightened depth to the story. Typically, Barnes writing style is rife with grammar issues and with her annoyingly beginning sentences with ‘And’ and ‘But’. This is not the case with “My Lady of Cleves”. The writing language is solid, illustrative with the historical period, and written quite well. The grammar issues are still evident but not as abundantly as in the author’s other novels. Noticeably, “My Lady of Cleves” doesn’t follow a standard story arc of ascending to a climax with a true crash and descent (unless you count the focus on Catherine Howard’s downfall). Even without this climb and the novel therefore being more straight-lined; the story is interesting and strong with its pace. Basically, it isn’t boring even with the absence of a true climax.The final quarter of Barnes’s writing takes a large plunge being overly fictionalized, silly, and even nonsensical to the rest of the novel. It is almost as though Barnes came to an impasse and began to take absurd and arbitrary story paths. This has a slight negative impact on “My Lady of Cleves” and dampens the merits of the piece. This artificial turn for the worst bleeds into the finality of “My Lady of Cleves” and therefore makes for a rather weak ending and let-down for the entire novel. Barnes was capable of much better and certainly dropped the ball. “My Lady of Cleves” vehemently stands tall for focusing a story on perhaps the sleepiest of Henry VIII’s wives. Although Barnes writing and story composition are not without flaws (plus there is a blatantly poor ending); “My Lady of Cleves” is still an enjoyable read that is less fluffy than most similar-topic novels. The pages display illustrative nuances that does grab at the reader. “My Lady of Cleves” is overall a strong novel and suggested for lovers of all-things Tudor.

  • Maggie
    2019-04-27 06:52

    This is my second Margaret Campbell Barnes novel, i love her style of writing, although written years ago they are not dated, just well written.Poor Anne came to England not knowing anyone or speaking the language, is called a Flanders mare and made a joke of for her dress sense, but in the end she manages become one of the most likeable of all Henry's wives. People gradually see that there is more to this woman than first meets the eye, they realise that Anne would have been the prefect wife for Henry if he could only have see past his own vanity.After the divorce Anne lives a comfortable life and thrives, this shows through and makes her all the more attractive. She and Hans Holbein have had a mutual attraction from when he first met her when he was asked to paint her portrait for Henry, nothing ever comes of it, but it's there all the same....Anne comes to realise during one of Henry's visits that Hans has been having an affair with one of her ladies, and Henry shows no sign of wanting to go home to his young new wife...and Anne, who has no desire of ever being Henry's wife again just once wants him to find her attractive and not the 'Flanders mare' he once called her. Anne of Cleaves is probably my favourite of all of Henry's wives and MCB does a great job in portraying her in a good light, as a woman who holds no malice to the man who discarded her but as one who thrives and grows into someone who people love and want to be around.The only gripe I've got about the book is the ending, i would have liked it to continue on after Henry's death.

  • Lizzy
    2019-05-01 03:07

    Although I imagined Anne de Cleves was someone I would like to read about, looking back now I think I was wrong. She probably was not controversial enough to merit a whole book. She made a good supporting character in other books I read and liked in the past. I ended abandoningMargaret Campbell Barnes'sMy Lady of Cleves in favor of more interesting reads many times. Just went back for a quick browse and can say that, although fairly well written, it was simply dull.

  • Bibliophile
    2019-05-08 01:50

    Fifty years before Philippa Gregory set out to rescue the reputation of Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, Margaret Campbell Barnes did the same thing with My Lady of Cleves. I enjoyed Gregory’s Boleyn Inheritance as a sort of literary equivalent of cheesy puffs – bad for you, but sometimes trash is what you crave - but I liked My Lady of Cleves much more. However, I should put in a couple of caveats: First of all, Barnes invents an unconsummated romance between Anne and the painter Hans Holbein, whose miniature of her is what caused Henry VIII to choose her as his bride in the first place. I suppose this explains as well as anything why Anne ended up being so much less to Henry’s taste than her portrait was. Secondly, Barnes’s Anne is a bit too saintly and well-beloved by every single person she ever encounters (except, of course, she’s not loved by Henry until it’s too late) and that gets a bit irritating! Lastly, since Anne is only on the central stage for about six months, the narrative gets a wee bit repetitive from time to time, and if I weren’t already aware of who the players are, I think I might have gotten a bit confused about all the characters who were doing and saying things offstage.However, I did really like the book. Anne is a very likeable person, despite her being a bit too good to be true, and I particularly enjoyed Barnes’s portrait of Henry VIII who is not the one-dimensional monster of Philippa Gregory’s imaginings, but instead a more complex figure whose weaknesses cause him to do monstrously cruel things. And I truly enjoyed many of the more minor characters, who were extremely vivid and well-drawn. I came away from this novel feeling that Anne of Cleves had fared the best of all of Henry’s wives (and perhaps served as a model for his daughter Elizabeth about the power an unmarried woman might enjoy?) and feeling desperately sorry for poor Katherine Howard.

  • Redfox5
    2019-04-22 08:49

    I loved this book! I've read many books about the Tudors but don't think I've ever come across one before that is solely about Anne Of Cleves. As she wasn't Henry's wife for very long, she is normally lumped with Katherine Howard story. And although Katherine is in this book. The focus is firmly on Anne. As I don't know a great factual detail about Anne, I wasn't sure how much was fiction mingled with fact. I have a feeling the love for Hans Holbein must have been purley there to give the story a romantic edge, as I've never come across this before in any other book about the Tudors, though Hans makes more sense than when I read in another fiction book, she was in a relationship with Katherine Howard! Normally the author puts a note in at the end, telling us what was made up for entertainment value but there is no such note here. I will have to do some research! This book kept me gripped and there were times I didn't want to put it down. A great story about a woman who is often overshadowed by Henry's other wives.

  • Amy Bruno
    2019-05-06 09:09

    My Lady of Cleves covers the life of Anne of Cleves from right before her marriage to Henry VIII until his death in 1547. The story opens with an agitated King Henry VIII, talking with his ministers about his need for a new wife after the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour in childbed. Among the candidates are the Duchess of Milan and the Cleves Princesses. The Duchess of Milan has already replied with “Only if I had two heads”! Smart girl!Hans Holbein is sent to Cleves to paint both Anne and her sister, Amelia. Once there he becomes quite smitten with Anne and they begin a friendship. He paints a flattering picture of her because that is the way he sees her. Unfortunately, Henry does not see the same way and is almost instantly put off by Anne’s looks and hard mannerisms. Henry likes the petite type (go figure!).We follow Anne through her short marriage to Henry, her annulment, “retirement” to Richmond Palace, Henry’s next marriage to Katherine Howard and her eventual downfall. Anne even plays a part in the infamous scene where Katherine is desperate to talk to Henry and goes screaming for him through the halls of the Palace. Anne seems to resign herself to her fate; after all she still has her head! She genuinely enjoys the life of a Princess of England; she can come and go as she pleases and has no husband or man to answer to. In seeing the freedom that Anne as a “woman” had, that had to have been a big impact on Elizabeth I, who always said she would never have a master.My Lady of Cleves was an interesting look into a woman that survived marriage to Henry VIII. Anne is a very likeable, intelligent, straightforward woman and I think she would have made a wonderful Queen, had she been given the chance. It pulls on your heartstrings to know that she never had the children she wanted and never married. I wish the story was longer and covered the time during Mary’s rule as Queen - I would have liked to have heard Anne’s thoughts on “Bloody Mary”.Note: Anne of Cleves died at Hever Castle on July 16, 1557. She lived 10 years past Henry. Her tomb is in a “hard to find place” in Westminster Abbey.Overall: 4/5Song: "Sweet Dreams" by Tori Amos

  • Elena
    2019-05-17 09:50

    My Lady of Cleves tells the story of Henry VIII's fourth wife. Urged by his counsellors to marry again, Henry chose Anne after seeing a painting of her by Hans Holbein. However, their marriage was short-lived: Henry did not like her from the start, and divorced her after just six months. Unlike Katherine of Aragon, Anne accepted the divorce and lived peacefully the rest of her life in England, as “the King's beloved sister”. Despite her short reign Anne has always been one of my favourite wives (the third after Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr), so I was very curious to read something about her. Even if a little dated, My Lady of Cleves is a very solid book, especially because of its historical accuracy (with some liberties which work really well), and because of its likeable characters. Anne is sensible, generous and hardworking. Sometimes she is too good to be true, but she also has very human faults, like her shyness and her gaucheness. Even if Henry's harsh rejection is painful for her, and always present in her life, she does not spend entire pages complaining about it. I found it easy to feel for her. The other characters are equally well built. None of them (well, with a few exceptions) is completely bad: even those who are traditionally negative characters, like Thomas Seymour, have some redeeming qualities. Henry's portrayal is really quite intense and, over all, fair: he isn't overly justified, but his best side is shown as well. I also really liked Mary and Elizabeth, and their relationship with Anne.The most peculiar aspect of the book is Anne's love story with Hans Holbein. It was not overly featured, so that it did not feel too unrealistic, but it also made sense. They were quite well suited and Hans's feelings for Anne explained cleverly the contrast between his rather lovely painting of her and Henry's immense dislike for the woman. All fans of Tudor fiction should appreciate My Lady of Cleves. If you like Anne, her portrayal in The Boleyn Inheritance is also quite successful (I know Gregory isn't big on historical accuracy, but it was her novel that got me interested in Anne for the first time).

  • Kim
    2019-05-08 06:04

    I was completely amazed by this book. The richness that Barnes put into the characters was spellbinding! Anne of Cleves takes center stage in this story, chronicling the last few months of her life in her home country, her brief time as Queen of England, and finally ending with the death of Henry VIII. I was drawn in almost from the start, coming to like Anne almost immediately. Here's a sensible, practical woman thrown into an extraordinary, dangerous situation -- being married off to one of the most changeable monarchs of the day, Henry VIII. Anne enters the marriage in good faith, but finds herself battered from all sides, especially by power-hungry, scheming courtiers. Nonetheless, Anne prevails, surviving her brief marriage with the cantankerous king and his debauched court, but also retaining a place within the Tudor family as the king's adopted sister and a surrogate aunt to his children. I love how compelling Anne was in this book. This is a tried and true woman, who feels things deeply, from her love for Hans Holbein and the king's three children, to the anger that she feels for Henry's callousness toward her both during and sometimes even after their marriage. I also loved the relationships she builds with the other characters -- the Duke of Suffolk and Archbishop Cranmer also become confidants to Anne, and sometimes even vice versa. I also love how it comes to the point near the end of the story that Henry seems to realize, even if he doesn't admit it out loud, that he was a fool to not see Anne's true worth when they were still married, and a double fool to throw her away.An outstanding, brilliant story that brings the perhaps least-remembered of the wives of Henry VIII to vibrant life.

  • Charlotte Guzman
    2019-04-23 06:59

    This is the kind of book I love to read. I was definitely very comfortable reading about this period of history because I have read so much about the Tudor's. I was quite pleased to read a book about Anne of Cleaves because I had not seen a lot about her. I also liked her the best of Henry's wives because she was smart and lived to tell the tale. Very good book.

  • Chris
    2019-04-26 05:04

    Thoroughly enjoyed this novel of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's 4th wife. Didn't know much about her and in this telling of her story, I really liked her and felt she was the ultimate victor of all the wives. I'd like to read a non-fiction work on her.

  • Suzanne
    2019-05-04 07:05

    Dutch translation of 'My Lady of Cleves'. Enjoyable read about my favourite of Henry's six wives, even though I suppose loads of it is made up. Recommended for lovers of Tudor fiction.

  • Mwrogers
    2019-05-14 05:07

    In a way, I felt guilty about giving this book 2 stars. After all, the author was born in the late 1800s. It’s almost like stomping on her grave. And maybe some of the sentences, i.e. “One of my uncle the Duke’s gentlemen retainers.” were just editing errors. “Some instinct must have warned me of the danger ran” is probably the fault of the editor, right? But to be fair, Dickens was also born in late 1800s. So, in view of equality, I gave this book 2 stars. I just could not believe that Anne was so perfect. Or that she always seemed to show up at very crucial historical events like a fly on the wall. Also, is there any proof that she consummated her marriage to Henry while he was married to Catherine Howard? And the entire love story with Hans Holbein? I just didn’t buy it. So, for those reasons (grave stomping and all), 2 stars. Maybe Hilary Mantel has just totally spoiled me...

  • Sensitivemuse
    2019-05-20 08:00

    I really liked how Anne of Cleves was portrayed in this book! and it proved to be a very enjoyable read. I had to get used to the writing style though, and it took a little longer to get into the book. It proved to be a very interesting read, and I really did like this book. It’s hard not to sympathize with Anne. Practically alone in a country where English is a foreign language, and with different customs and clothing to get used to, I felt really sorry for her in the beginning of the book. When she becomes the target of ridicule, you sympathize with her even more and can’t help but feel angry towards Henry and his crew for being so mean. The biggest surprise in this book is her friendship with Thomas Culpepper. I didn’t think they’d get along, but I liked their friendship. Also, the Thomas in this book is much nicer than say, The Tudors version. This book painted Culpepper in a rather sympathetic light and it’s a whole different version of him than what I am used to, and I like this one much better.What I enjoyed most about this book is how Anne gracefully became an outsider of the court, to a well beloved one. She gradually warmed characters’ hearts and the reader’s. She was seen as a person you could approach to, and talk to while she listened and gave good advice. In a way, you could say she would make a wonderful therapist. You could not help but love her up until the end. I especially liked how she managed to get Henry to come crawling back (so to speak). I thought Henry’s portrayal here was different, he’s still a tyrant, but he’s also seen as an old curmudgeon. Perhaps that’s what Margaret Campbell Barnes wanted in the first place. The plot is certainly slow moving and although it’s not what you would call a very exciting type of book, I think it’s a book meant to be read and appreciated thoroughly and slowly. I believe this book was really meant to really look into Anne as a character and how she develops throughout the story. This book is really all about the characters. Would I recommend this? I would to Tudor history lovers out there. It helps to know the history and to know who’s who before getting into this book. Also keep in mind, the writing style is a bit different -I’d say similar to Jean Plaidy’s. So, it will take a bit to get used to, but it’s well worth the time.This was one of the better Tudor books I’ve read, filled with great character development and most importantly, shows some of the characters in a very different light. I definitely recommend this. It was a great read, and reinforces my opinion as Anne of Cleves being one of my favorite Queens (even if she was Queen for a little while).

  • Kaye
    2019-05-20 08:10

    Written in the 1940s and re-released in the 2000s, this is one of the few novelizations of my favorite of the Tudor wives, Anne of Cleves---the one whom Henry VIII married based on a 2-inch miniature painting and then spent their brief marriage trying to figure out how to put her aside, eventually annulling the marriage based on the (false) basis of Anne's being pre-contracted.While the style of writing does age the book, that wasn't the biggest reason I couldn't give it five stars. It paints a very rosy portrait (rosier than my fangirling has ever done) of Henry VIII's fourth wife---in Barnes's view, everyone loved Anne, confided in Anne, wished Anne were still queen, from the lowliest commoner to Thomas Cranmer, Charles Brandon, and, on occasion, even Henry himself.However, it's still an enjoyable read and an interesting take on such an enigmatic historical figure.----------------I think the original manuscript of the novel was either scanned in or retyped and then not edited as carefully as it could have been. There were several places in which words seemed misused or out of place (such as firelight being "rejected in her eyes" rather than reflected). Also, I'm not sure if the lack of commas, which leads to confusion in complex sentences quite often, was how the original publication was edited or if it's how the book was originally punctuated. EDIT: In researching this further, it looks like the family might have "self" pubbed this reprint, since the imprint is through Sourcebooks, so I imagine it was retyped (lovingly, I'm certain) for this re-release. However, they should have hired a professional editor to both proofread it and update/correct the lack of punctuation to make the prose itself easier to read/comprehend.

  • Penny
    2019-05-18 08:57

    This is a great book if you want to know more about the least known of Henry's wives. It spins Anne's story from her home in Cleves to the court in England where most of Henry's waiting ladies want her to fail even before she arrives.The awful ordeal of being married off to someone she had never met who had already disposed of 2 wives, must have been very hard on a young woman. Anne had never travelled and could speak very little English. The infamous miniature by Holbein that leads to Henry agreeing to the marriage, here takes on a different hue. Holbein had a different view of beauty from that of the English court and in this story insists he has never embellished the picture of Anne but simply painted what he saw.The character of Anne comes across as exceptional and refreshing. How different Henry's life may have been if he had given her more time while still his wife. Here was a no nonsense, practical, pleasant and kindly woman who would have made him the perfect wife - as later he realises. Anne's life of course is also restricted in that she never marries again or has children. The care she gives to both Elizabeth and Mary, both motherless girls, easily shows her nature. She even returns to court for festivities with both Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr as Queen.This book is quite old now but is well worth a read.

  • LibraryCin
    2019-05-19 02:46

    Anne of Cleves was Henry VIII’s fourth wife. After a bad first meeting, they married anyway, but almost immediately, Henry was taken with Katherine Howard, so Henry and Anne’s marriage only lasted six months. They divorced and from then on, Anne was considered his “sister” and was treated quite well. This is a fictional account of their life together, and Anne’s life afterward, up until Henry’s death.I thought it was really good. I’ve read a little bit about Anne of Cleves, but most of what I’ve read stops after her and Henry’s divorce, so it was fun to read what her life might have been like afterwards. For that reason, I found that part - the second half of the book - a little more interesting than the first half, though I did enjoy the entire book.

  • Amy
    2019-05-15 09:06

    Anne of Cleves has always fascinated me. Was she really a fat and uncouth Flander's Mare. Or was she an intelligent & independent woman who set her own path?This book definitely takes the latter viewpoint of the 4th wife. Whether or not this is an accurate historical representation is open to debate, but the character in the book is one that is lovable.The one qualm I had with this book is Henry. The author tries to make him likeable... but, well, I kinda have taken to a great dislike of Henry Tudor. But, well, although he was capricious, there HAD to be some good qualities about him -- he did successfully run a kingdom. Anyway, the story is about Anne -- and the author's style makes me want to read her other books.

  • Bethany
    2019-05-09 05:08

    I am in love with Margaret Campbell Barnes. Her writing style is phenominal and precise. I love that she wrote an entire book centered around the least known wife of Henry VIII. Anne of Cleves was an amazing woman with many strengths. After reading this book, I feel as though Ms. Barnes captured her in a new light that needs to be shed upon her.

  • Leah
    2019-05-04 08:09

    I loved this book! I am a huge fan of Philippa Gregory and love reading about the Tudors, but was getting tired of Anne Boylen, when I saw this story about Anne of Cleves. Probably the least famous of Henry VIII's wives, she usually doesn't take up much space in stories, so I was interested to see what this author had to say. Highly entertaining. I'd love to think that Henry later regretted not staying married to her, when in fact she was probably the kind of Queen he needed as he got older. Anyway, every bit as good as Ms, Gregory's books. You won't be disappointed.

  • Cassandra
    2019-05-01 09:10

    Unlike Henry's other wives, ot many books are written about poor Anne of Cleves. This turns her into a compelling, relateable character that is quite admirable in her own way. Some of the descriptions of characters do repeat themselves multiple times throughout the book, but this was easy to forgive when presented with the overall quality of the story and characters.

  • Yaaresse
    2019-05-06 10:03

    I read several of Margaret Campbell Barnes' novels, which we'd now of course call historical fiction, many years. I enjoyed them greatly. She was a talented writer, and I suspect her books would still hold up today.

  • Maria
    2019-05-14 09:51

    Finally read itFor some reason I waited a long time to read this and I was not disappointed. Although I have long been an Anne Boleyn fan, I admire Anne of Cleves and enjoy that she kept her head and outlived Henry. It is a nicely written novel.

  • Small Review
    2019-05-20 09:02

    Hit and miss. Didn't love this as much as I was hoping or as much as I enjoyed her other books. Still, ok overall. Full review to come.

  • Susan Altick
    2019-04-30 09:49

    Outstanding. Nearly every page included a marvelous quote that I wanted to highlight. She's clearly a brilliant woman and a marvelous author.

  • Beth
    2019-04-24 09:07

    Barnes' brisk, capable, pragmatic Anne is far more entertaining than P. Gregory's tearful, craven version.

  • Caidyn (BW Book Reviews; he/him/his)
    2019-05-12 04:09

    Anne sought in the folds of her skirt for the gold-handled scissors hanging from her belt. Deftly she snipped off the fattest grape of all and popped it into his [Henry VIII's] watering mouth. He savored it greedily and, after a furtive glance across the room, squeezed her hand with the obscene slyness of an old man who has lived lustily."The pick of the bunch!" he said. And the faded eyes that blinked at her from beneath his sandy lashes were full of fun, and affection."How kind of you to bring grapes!" exclaimed Kate [Katherine Parr], bustling forward with a glass of medicine.She thought they were discussing the fruit. But Anne knew he was teasing her. He might equally well have been discussing his wives...She felt sure he had been speaking her epitaph; and a flood of long-delayed triumph shot through her, warm as wine. She wasn't ravishing like Nan Boleyn, nor the mother of his son like Jane, nor yet his "rose without a thorn" -- but at least he had admitted his mistake and tried to make amends for calling her a Flanders mare.This just might be one of the best Tudor-centered historical fiction novels I've ever read.If anyone kept up with my updates, I was basically gushing about this book the whole way through. Characterization of Henry, who is so rare to grasp as a person; capturing Anne's personality and accenting both extremes, from diminutive to cunning; exhibiting the relationship between Charles and Henry, and even Anne and Henry; showing the beautiful decline Henry went from a petulant child, even though he was in his forties most of the book, to a dying man. I can't explain how much I loved this book.Each character, even the minor ones, stood out from the page as real people, not the flat people I've read in many novels, either fictional or nonfiction. I felt that the characters were alive.Anne of Cleves is the wife no one really bothers to research about. And, I think she would have been best suited for him. As with Katherine of Aragon, she was deft at being regal in the face of terrible things; as with Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves sometimes could speak out of turn; and as with Jane Seymour, she knew how to hold her tongue and be diminutive to her King. She encompassed the best qualities of each previous wife. She would have cared for him in his old age and done her best to give him sons, as she was raised to do.This book takes you through Anne's marriage to Henry, through the rise and downfall of Catherine Howard, and finally to his death. It was brilliantly written and focused on the times, along with Anne's personal growth.There was romance in the book. And I didn't mind it. I absolutely despise romance in most books. It's one of my pet peeves and usually the reason why I DNF books. When I sensed it coming on, I started getting nervous about it, about if it would be cheesy and badly done, because I really wanted to like this book since Anne of Cleves is never written about for historical fiction and is just a footnote in any book about Henry VIII's wives or life. The little bit of romance was well done, and it even made me smile. I actually wanted them to get together, although I knew it was completely against history.Check this book out. Really, it's well written and if you know anything about the times, you'll find the characters very well done. I only wish there was more of it for me to read.

  • Rosemarie Short
    2019-05-10 10:07

    I like to think that, at this stage, I have built up a fairly strong base knowledge concerning historical fiction. I have read a lot. Nevertheless, as with all reading in this genre I always consult one forum alone after completion of my newest find; my Mom. She's read ten times more than I have and there's not a historical fiction novel I can name she hasn't partaken in at one point or another. And she very much helped me to clarify my thoughts on this book. It's dated. Badly. I'll leave comparisons to the end because it's unfair to immediately throw in other author's names. But suffice to say I found a lot of problems here. If it were not a novel about the relatively unwritten about Anne of Cleves it would have been two stars. However I enjoyed the chance to finally read from the perspective of the jilted Flemish Princess. She's a character I've been interested in for some time, always searching for small details about her. Not least because her marriage was the ultimate downfall of my favourite historical personage - Thomas Cromwell. Campbell Barnes does a fair job of attempting to capture the confusion and fear running like a vein through Anne's marriage. However her portrayal of Anne, I think, is overly flattering. As is her depiction of a whole host of characters. In contrast to that her thoughts on characters such as Cromwell and Wriothsley were wholly negative. Therefore there is very little moral grey to her characterisation, which I think is so important in a novel about the Tudor court. Everyone played along a blurred line there, no one announced their loyalty to anyone but the King. Yet the moral compass of characters here is more fitting for a fairytale than an attempt at reliving reality. I also thought a lot of the flow was lost as, with each changing chapter, time jumps differed hugely. A month passes, a year. Huge chunks of married life are missed out. In my case one of the things I was most looking forward to was interactions with Anne and Henry, both during their marriage and after it. Instead I was accosted by a fictitious flirtation between Anne and Hans Holbein. I didn't mind this too much, romance sells and without that authorial interjection Campbell Barnes would have struggled with childless, divorced Anne. However I would have preferred less obviousness between Holbein and Anne - personally it struck me as a little forced. Historical accuracy did many leaps from the window, departing completely from any semblance of reality. When I saw scenes reminiscent of the TV show The Tudors I had to smile. Perhaps Neil Jordan read this novel when writing about the marriage of Anne of Cleves? However in a world post The Other Boleyn Girl, I am well used to vast departures from historical accuracy and, whilst I sometimes wish the author had done just a little more research, I can largely accept it in a novel borne of fiction. Saying all of this I did, to an extent, enjoy reading. It was a light read and, whilst it lacked the historical depth and sharp characterisation of Jean Plaidy (I told you name dropping was coming) I thought that, for the time it was written (1946) this is a well enough way to dip your toes into the Tudor world and experience it through she who was perhaps Henry's luckiest Queen.

  • Rivkah
    2019-04-27 07:49

    Originally written in 1946Well written and informative I read in 3 daysLearned so much about king Henry's 4th wife

  • Stefanie Hasselbacher
    2019-05-15 08:15

    Anna, the Princess of Cleves, leads a very boring life full of everyday sorrows in her little dukedom, until the day when Hans Holbein came to her palace to paint her and her younger sister. Henry Tudor - who has already had three wifes, one of whom was beheaded - is looking for wife number four and wishes to choose from the paintings he receives. Every idiot would have guessed that the not-so-pretty, rather chubby Anna would never suit Henrys taste, but unfortunately Hans Holbein falls in love with her simple kind of beauty and paints her the way he sees her. Reason enough for Henry to choose Anna - Anne from now on. From their first meeting on the marriage is doomed. Henry is obviously disappointed in his bride and shows it. Anna tries to hide her hurt feelings and to be a woman worthy to be a Queen, but one of her ladies-in-waiting, a super-pretty teenager named Katherine Howard, caught the King's eye. Henry does his best to get rid of Anna and as she is slightly anxious for her head, she succumbs to his idea that the marriage needs to be annulled. The Lady of Cleves becomes the "beloved sister" of Henry VIII. Barred from marrying, Anna has to face life as a spinster - albeit a spinster with a broken heart - and decides to make the best of it. She becomes the dear aunt to Henrys children Elizabeth and Edward, also to his great-niece Jane and a good friend to the princess Mary and the new Queen Katherine. She leads a quiet, housewifish life, caring for her home and the poor around her, and in a triumphant moment, notices that she actually made the King regret his decision to get rid of her. A beautiful read. Not the most exciting of stories, to be sure, but a nice change to read about a woman who is not super-talented, super-beautiful or super-desired. Too much goody-goodness, though, and everyone notices and loves how good and extra-good she is. That was a bit overboard. I would have loved to hear why Anna did not like Wife Number 6. From what I know of Katheryn Parr, she was a stunning, intelligent and gracious woman, yet Anna of Cleves, who likes almost everyone, hints two or three times that she is no big fan of her. Why, I wondered, why???? Whether it is jealousy or some other reason - it would have given Anna a bit more profile and a bit more humanness. That would have been lovely to see!