Saturday, March 17, 2012

Question from kb - Opinions on Weir's "Mary Boleyn"

Has anyone read Alison Weir's "Mary Boleyn: Mistress to kings"? Of so, I would be interested in your thoughts.



  1. I got this book for Christmas and immediately started reading it. I got about a quarter way through before I had to put it down. Now it's March and it's still sitting on my bookshelf. It's not awful but there is very little information on Mary Boleyn to begin with, so I'm not sure how the rest of the book will work. I know I shouldn't comment on your post since I haven't finished it but I thought I'd throw my two cents in.

  2. I just finished reading this a few weeks ago. A very enjoyable and enlightened read. Weir gives a good basic timeline to Mary's life and approaches her story without bias.

    I also appreciated how Weir teases out the truth from fiction and presents a Mary Boleyn who was a much simpler woman, a much smarter woman and one who has been much maligned. Like with any historical figure, there are many gaps and inconsistencies in the story, but Weir does a good job of giving the probable story based on limited sources and her own extensive knowledge of the time period. Several times, Weir refers to conflicting accounts, but explains very clearly how she gives more weight to one versus the other based on her knowledge of the writer's background, bias, position, etc.

  3. Nash613 - That you have not finished it is a comment in and of itself. I'm interested in all thoughts and opinions.

  4. I found it to be an interesting attempt at a full length book with minimal archival sources.

    The genealogical charts at the front of the book have some errors. Interestingly, within the text, she points out that there are some errors in the general understanding of the genealogy but still published incorrect charts.

    Also frustrating are the continual end note references to L&P with no further detail. I tried to look up several such references only to find that there were no L&P entries for the dates she was discussing or the information for that date did not seem to relate to her text.

    There are some intriguing theories such as time Mary Boleyn may have spent in France and in Calais.

  5. "I found it to be an interesting attempt at a full length book with minimal archival sources.........."

    Does anyone really expect anything else from Weir anymore? She deliberately selects women from history on whom there is very little personal information & teases her audience beforehand about "new" info, but it never materializes.

    Same thing as with Catherine Swynford, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France....the Swynford book in particular would've done better presented as a bio of John of Gaunt. I think I would've enjoyed it more & respected the author more had she just 'fessed up to the dearth of material & altered her focus. Is she afraid now that she's established herself as an historian of women, her readers will dump her if she dares do another book about a man?

  6. I purchased the book with great anticipation as I have been a fan of Alison Weir's biographies, but was extremely disappointed in this attempt and did not finish reading it. It give almost no new information and is full of speculation and assumption -- 'what if", "could be", "likely" throughtout the entire book. The photos were inaccurate and assumptive and Alison's usual in depth research and attention to detail was missing. Obviously there was no reason to write this book without being able to present any new information.


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