Monday, March 26, 2012

Question from Vicky - "The Boleyns" by David Loades

I was looking to buy Loades' 'The Boleyns', but the reviews put me off. Has anyone read it? Does it fully explore, and find new information on, Thomas and George Boleyn?


Anonymous said...

Hello Vicky!
I have this book and I must admit - I was not impressed by it. There is no new information provided, there are some mistakes. I expected a lot more from this book and from David Loades.

Foose said...

It needed editing, definitely. Loades kept referring to Mary Boleyn's marriage to William Carey as "morganatic," and there were some genealogical errors and other weirdnesses in the language.

But I understand the publishing houses have turfed out all their editors who were subject matter experts - not a new process, as Evelyn Waugh in his time lamented the dwindling ranks of professional proofreaders "because clergymen are no longer unfrocked for sodomy" - so I don't really blame Loades for this. I hope the American edition will have ironed out most of the howlers.

He's certainly a sympathetic partisan of Sir Thomas Boleyn, which might cause recoil among some readers. He gets two chapters or so out of the pathetic extant source-scraps on George Boleyn (for all you George Boleyn fans out there), declining to characterize his relationship with wife Jane as being as openly rancorous as pictured on TV and in the movies, but intimating that a certain "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" domestic flavor may have prevailed chez Rochford.

Loades is as assertive in his way as David Starkey, and recapitulates arguments already made in his other books. He did speak favorably of Starkey and his research in this one, which surprised me.

Claire Ridgway said...

It's a good book as an overview of the Boleyns but doesn't give any new information on them, more a collection of the information that's already out there. Loades never claimed that it would be anything new and it is useful to have all of the information together in one place.

There are various points I disagree with, one being that Thomas Boleyn did not have reformist sympathies, when there is evidence that he supported his godson Thomas Tebold's travels around Europe reporting on the religious persecutions and Tebold sent him a pamphlet by Clement Marot.
As Foose says, there were various inaccuracies, a howler on the inside flap of the cover - Edward Boleyn instead of Geoffrey Boleyn - but Loades was probably not responsible for that.