Monday, May 13, 2013
Review: The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen
The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Whether you believe Anne Boleyn was the tragic pawn of powerful and ruthless men or a manipulative whore that stole a crown and spent her days scheming to murder her enemies, or something in between, you have to admit that Anne Boleyn was fascinating. Susan Bordo's "The Creation of Anne Boleyn" discusses how Anne has been portrayed in both fiction and non-fiction, TV, movies, and documentaries and how that has changed over time. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author explored and compared the many versions of Anne's life and character throughout history and how each portrayal of Anne was adapted to fit in with the era in which it was written. It's easy to see how the "true" Anne Boleyn could be lost somewhere in history. It makes me hate Henry all the more for all that he did to remove any mention of her so that now, we're left with mostly conjecture about who she really was. Of course, that may be the very thing that causes me to be so drawn to her above many other dynamic women in history. I admit, I haven't watched many of the movies and documentaries mentioned but there are several that I am eager to see after reading this book.
Bordo is very opinionated about the way she believes many popular authors have unfairly characterized Anne. From the beginning, this approach was very off-putting for me since my introduction to Anne Boleyn was from authors such as Alison Weir, Norah Lofts, and Jean Plaidy and I was almost offended at, what I felt, was Bordo practically accusing them of fabricating history (as far as Weir and Lofts, not much is said about Plaidy). As you see by my 4 star rating, I ended up finding this to be an excellent read, and I may have even rated it a 5 had she not been so harsh on Alison Weir. I am much more inclined to see Anne Boleyn much the way Bordo does, as an intelligent, charismatic, and complex woman as opposed to the sly temptress that she is so widely believed to be. However, I think that, with the lack of information available about Anne Boleyn and since the information that is available cannot necessarily be taken at face value, Alison Weir's interpretation of historical events and Anne's character is just as likely as Bordo's interpretation.
I found "The Creation of Anne Boleyn" to be thought-provoking and it definitely motivated me to revisit some of my favorite Tudor reads and led me to discover some books and movies I wasn't familiar with. I appreciated that there were many points of view discussed and compared even though there was a clear bias. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is curious about Anne Boleyn because it does present so many differing points of view as well as the author's own opinion about Anne's character and why she has been portrayed so many ways.
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