Mary Boleyn was the mistress of two kings, Francois I of France and Henry VIII of England, and sister to Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. In this astonishing and riveting biography, Alison Weir’s extensive research gives a new and detailed portrayal, in which she recounts that, contrary to popular belief, Mary was entirely undeserving of her posthumous notoriety as a great whore.
©2011 Alison Weir (P)2011 W F Howes Ltd
author of Lowcountry Legend's series
If you don't know what a Historiography is, you're probably not going to like this work. This is not really a story, but an analysis of past bios and surviving documentation. If real history interests you and how historians and time interprets people then this is for you. If you want a seamless romantic story, historical fiction is what you should read.
Phenomenal, riveting, and accurate
I adore Alison Weir's biographies. She does painstaking first hand research from primary sources and is unfailingly accurate in her representations of historical figures. This biography exposes a lot of fallacies passed along as fact for generations by less committed biographers. Weir tackles the problems of incomplete, damaged, and decayed records with aplomb and should be commended for refusing to pass along the information far easier to find in secondary and tertiary sources and instead doing her own research to obtain new and more accurate conclusions. Weir is a phenomenal biographer and a talented writer. The narrator, Maggie Mash, does a lovely job of making the figures come alive and I will be looking at more of her books in the future. I sincerely enjoyed this book and look forward to more of Alison Weir's fiction and nonfiction.
Enjoyed the history; reader interfered with enjoyment
This is the second time I've listened to a book with Maggie Mash as reader. When she switches voices for a quote from some historical male, she only obscures the words. Sounds like an old crone, instead of a different character. Her regular reading voice is very pleasant and easy to listen to. I would be pleased if she developed a different male voice, or better "quote" voice.
In a word: DULL. When a long biography starts out by telling you that very little factual information is known about its subject, I guess you should know what to expect: a lot of repetition (to the point of irritation), endless debunking of what others have stated as fact, and vague speculations about what "may have" happened, been thought, or been felt. The result was a real bore. The writing is flat and, again, repetitive, not only in details but in phrasing, and the chronology is fractured. There is so little focus as she jumps between persons peripherally related to May's story that at times I even forgot that I was supposedly reading a biography of Mary Boleyn. I kept thinking that Weir was finally running out of Tudor-era women to write about.
A number of readers have defended Weir's tedious style, claiming that it is simply because the book is not fiction but rather "academic." As an academic specializing in Tudor England, I can attest to the fact that an academic book can indeed be an exciting read--as have been several of Weir's previous biographies.
It's sad when the best thing about a promising book by an author whose books, on audio and in print, you've previously loved is the reader.
I enjoyed Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth, both by Weir, very much, but this biography is simply boring. I think I lasted about four hours in to the narration before I deleted it from my iPod. I wish I could get my credit back!
Though Alison Weir is always a little extreme in her views, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. It is easy to delineate between fact and the author's opinions. It was good to learn about Mary, as she has become a popular figure without really being better understood. The narrator was fine, though halfway through her voice changes so much that for a couple of minutes I thought they had replaced her.
I have loved Allison Weir’s other books and was so looking forward to this new one, however the beginning is dull as dirt; do I really need pages and pages and pages of speculation of when Mary was born and still don’t ever get an answer. She starts out saying she wants to write a definitive biography of Mary but there is a lot of; well this is what is known, not known, speculated, but I still can’t give you any answer, so why am I reading if you’re not going to tell me anything?
I have to say I like Alison Weir’s fiction better than her non-fiction this one she just seems to be calling out other historians mistakes but she doesn’t really give the correct information just what others have said is wrong.
This did get better in the second half and kept my interest as I said I am a huge fan of Alison Weir however, this one won’t be up there with my favorites of her books.
I think this book should have been a biography of the Boleyn family there is so much more about Mary’s father, brother, sister and of course Henry VIII. I think I wouldn’t feel like she’s padding the book if it told you in the beginning that this is a biography of a family because we sure don’t really find much out about Mary, what does all Henry’s other affairs and illegitimate children have to do with a bio of Mary?
I am sorry as much as I like Alison Weir this one just didn’t do it for me I know she is a great researcher and that’s what this book is lots and lots of research told in a very textbook like manner, I think I will stick to Weir’s historical fiction rather than her non-fiction.
If you are new to Alison Weir don’t start here, start with Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey then The Lady Elizabeth I loved these 2 books, this one not so much.
I must give props to the undeniable amount of research Weir does. And the rating on this has to do with the fact that this book does not answer any questions about Mary and was about so many other people than her and there is a lot of guess work still going on. There is just too much, must have, maybe have, could have, and not enough really did!
Maggie's narration was well done but didn't save me from being bored to tears at times.
I am a huge fan of Alison Weir. Having said that, this book is a real disappointment to me. There are simply too many "maybe's." For instance, "Maybe Mary never saw Anne again." There is simply too much supposition in this book for me to take it seriously as an historical work. While Mary Boleyn was in many ways a minor character in the Tudor saga, she still had a life unto herself which, if one is endeavoring to chronicle, deserves more fact and less supposition.
There's a reason why this is the first attempt at a Mary Boleyn biography, and that is because there is just not enough information on her that has survived to fill up a whole book. This book would better be described as a biography of the people around Mary Boleyn and the places she inhabited... the former was still somewhat interesting, as knowing about her parents, siblings, and husbands can help paint a picture of Mary herself, while the latter was rather tedious for someone who is not particularly interested in the detailed history of random British houses and properties.
I will definitely continue to read historical nonfiction and biographies, but going forward I will be more careful about the subjects I select. For example, I was considering Alison Weir's biography of Elizabeth of York next, but I think I will skip that one now as I fear it will run into the same issues.
Too much description of the history of houses and properties that often weren't even owned or inhabited by Mary Boleyn, but rather had ties to other members of her family. This includes a lot of info on what conditions the houses are in today, which seemed very out of place.
Also worth noting- I wouldn't necessarily cut these parts but the last hour or two of the audiobook are exclusively about what happened to Mary's family after her death, not actually about her.
In many ways this is more a historiography than a biography- the difference being that a historiography is more about responding to conclusions other historians have drawn based on the facts than the facts themselves. This makes sense given that very few facts on Mary survive, so the author needs to spin out each one into a description of the many different interpretations that have been offered.
I have enjoyed other biographies by this author who usually combines scholarship with lively narrative. This book veers more to the former with a lot of genealogical lineages and historical detail less suited to an audiobook. After a slow start with too much turgid detail about Mary's family history the book becomes an eye-opening account of Mary Boleyn's life and dismisses many false beliefs about her reputation and gives a different slant on the turbulent Tudor period.
The reader is very good and helps the book crack along, despite all the detailed information and scholarly argument against other biolographer's works.
Having more actual facts about Mary Boleyn and not having every quote spoken in annoying voices.
I'm going to steer clear of new historical non fiction around the Tudor Dynasty. I don't think there's much new information to be had.
I'll be looking for summer reading now :)
Not sure. The non-stop quoting in ridiculous voices drove me nuts from the start. If there are books out there without the relentless quoting then I'd he happy to give it a go.
Disappointment and sometimes anger.
I was expecting a full bio of interesting facts about Mary's childhood and her relationships etc. However, the most used word throughout this book is "probably" along with others of that ilk (possibly, maybe, assume etc) and I ended up howling every time it was spoken.
The thing that annoys me most is that this feels like someone just turning out another "Tudor" volume because of the public's incessant interest when really there is no story to tell - certainly nothing we haven't learned from other sources.
And I felt like a sucker for falling for it.
After listening to this its clear that there is not an awful lot known about Mary Boleyn at all (which was the most interesting fact the book delivered to be honest).
Misleading and deliberately entitled to encourage people with an interest in Tudor history to buy it.
"A story about how there is no story to tell"
I usually like Alison Weir's books, this one is a bit of a disappointment as it mostly seems to be about fact that there isn't much to tell and that what there is is mostly speculation and conjecture.
Maggie Mash is a good reader though and, personally, I think the readers are quite important - still a good reader cannot make a bad book into a good one.
"Worth reading if you love the Tudor period."
Alison Weir has the gift of being able to pack out a book about someone whom actually pretty little information actually exists. She confirms and dispels the assumptions that have been made in historical fiction and explores the Boleyn family and Mary's offspring in detail. It's a book worth listening to.
"Great book "
a fascinating insight into Mary boleyn, not the person I had been led to believe, another great book by Alison weir, well worth a listen.
"Good Production Great Story"
The subject matter is really interesting and this production tells it well. Very intertaining, entertaining, educational and enjoyable.
Considering how little information there is on Mary, Alison has done a pretty good job indeed. It was very nice to get to know more about Mary herself as well as new information on her contemporaries as descendants that I hadn't known before. Maggie, as usual, was excellent
"Enjoyable listen of a interesting book"
As a "Tudor time fan" I often check what's available on the subject. Alison Weir writes an interesting story and gives much information in an easy-to-listen manner. So much fiction has been written on Anne Boleyn and her sister that it is refreshing to come upon a carefully researched book that not only tells the story but gives background and opinions on many other versions of it. Maggie Mash reads the book in a clear, beautiful voice which is a delight to listen to. I'm sure to check what else she's read!
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