Alison Weir writes both fiction and non-fiction about Tudor England, and is probably my favorite writer for books on that era. She researches thoroughly, cites her sources, and isn’t afraid to tell you what is conjecture and what is hard fact.
In her latest book, Mary Boleyn,Weir examines the evidence surrounding the life of Anne Boleyn’s sister, Mary. Mary, as you probably know if you’ve read anything about Tudor England, is much maligned. However, in looking closely at contemporary accounts and related evidence, Weir comes to some rather different conclusions about Mary, and paints a far more sympathetic portrait.
As with all of Weir’s books, I found that I learned quite a bit from Mary Boleyn, both about historical figures of the time and also about what life was like in that time period. Weir’s discussions of historical accuracy and how sources are weighed were also fascinating and instructive.
If you’re interested in Tudor England and already have a fairly good handle on it, I recommend this book. If you’re new to the era, you might want to get a couple of other seriously researched books (that is to say, not highly fictionalized stuff like the TV series “The Tudors” or books like “The Other Boleyn Girl”) out of the way first so you can really appreciate the point-counterpoint historical analysis in Mary Boleyn.
Now that I’ve scared you with a term like “historical analysis,” I do also want to mention that Weir’s writing style is highly readable and accessible–you don’t need to be a history major to enjoy it.
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