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The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen | [Susan Bordo]

The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen

Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anne’s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: Neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anne’s death more than her life.
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Publisher's Summary

Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anne’s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: Neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anne’s death more than her life. How could Henry order the execution of a once beloved wife? Drawing on scholarship and critical analysis, Bordo probes the complexities of one of history’s most infamous relationships.

Bordo also shows how generations of polemicists, biographers, novelists, and filmmakers imagined and re-imagined Anne: Whore, martyr, cautionary tale, proto “mean girl,” feminist icon, and everything in between. In this lively audiobook, Bordo steps off the well-trodden paths of Tudoriana to expertly tease out the human being behind the competing mythologies.

©2013 Susan Bordo (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Roswatheist Dexter, New Mexico, United States 03-29-14
    Roswatheist Dexter, New Mexico, United States 03-29-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Most Enjoyable Biography--Win!"

    Long before I saw The Tudors I loved Elizabeth I and Anne Boleyn. I would childishly stomp my feet at the back covers of Philippa Gregory's novels because I was looking for good, realistic, Tudor fiction.

    Susan Bordo did a marvelous job portraying Anne as accurately as she could, acknowledging the lack of impartial historical documents (of course no such thing exists, much less for such a decisive lady). She was fair to other accounts of Anne, fiction and non, screen and print, to a fault. Ms. Rosenblat was a fantastic narrator, giving the biography the right twist of sarcasm and wit at their obvious parts.

    Overall, this was quite an enjoyable listen.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susie Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-14-14
    Susie Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-14-14 Member Since 2012

    I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."

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    "Our Anne, Ourselves"

    Not a biography of Anne Boleyn, this is a analysis of what each generation and writer, creates out of the historical character Anne Boleyn. She’s a woman re-made in every era’s imagination to serve the teller, from Chapuys’s contemporary slandering of “the whore,” to today’s feminist icon, or slutty vixen—take your pick.

    When Anne’s head came off, her words and images, and even friendships were erased, so every image we get of Anne says more about the person writing about her than it does about the subject.

    Susan Bordo gives you all the angles, all the trashy viper-pit details of royal life, and still separates the facts from speculation. Her chatty, dry, deadly wit make this audiobook addictive.

    Barbera Rosenblat brought so much sensibility and sharp-tongued knowing humor to the reading. She’s a perfect match.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara M. Sullivan Huntsville, Alabama 06-20-14
    Barbara M. Sullivan Huntsville, Alabama 06-20-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Anne Boleyn as seen through the years"

    Susan Bardo compares the view of Anne Boleyn by courtiers who lived when she lived to older biographies including those in the eighteen hundreds, and more modern views of her, including historical fiction by Margaret George, P. Gregory, and Alison Weir. Bardo even includes the mini-series the Tudors. I don't think as it could be concluded that she was being particularly critical of these authors. They are fiction, regardless of the academic credentials of the author.

    She is harder on writers of popular history, (like this one) who repeat rumors that cannot be substantiated by anything concrete. Even the famous letters King Henry sent her, were not found in England but in the vatican.

    The book is interesting. Barbara Rosenblat is great as always.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara Syracuse, NY 05-22-14
    Sara Syracuse, NY 05-22-14 Member Since 2013

    Recent college grad who studied creative writing... now I bum 'round listening to other's works. Not a bad life :)

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    "Best Boleyn Book!!!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Creation of Anne Boleyn to be better than the print version?

    YES! Barbara Rosenblat added so much to the text. She read it with the wit and sarcasm the book is intended to be read with. I admit (and I don't do so lightly), I could have never have matched Rosenblat's mastery and enthusiasm in my own mind. Rosenblat's style is fun and simply delicious!


    What other book might you compare The Creation of Anne Boleyn to and why?

    Hmmm, I can't think of any. This book had so much going on. It's written in that contemporary way that women (especially feminist) are writing today (like in "American's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines" by Gail Collins to give an idea and that too is another great read). You know, it's sorta like talking with your girlfriends. That is one of the most charming things about this book. When you read this, it's as if Bordo is poring you a glass of wine saying "now, about that sixth finger..." She goes into the TV series, films and books on Henry and Anne and shakes out a lot of the BS. She does this in a scholarly academic way that allows the reader to trust her with her piles of research, references and historical documentation.


    Have you listened to any of Barbara Rosenblat’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't. I did look her up on Audible but nothing else she has done looks compelling to me. I will just keep re-reading this one, ha!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    You know, I really did. Bordo asks one question I never thought of before and that is simply why. Why in the hell did he do it. I mean he was a known cheat, (having already had at least one son out of wedlock by this point) so why would he kill her. Granted her allegations (all false of course) that she had slept with George and countless others is gripping but still, why didn't he just send her to a nunnery or lock her in the tower. The horror of it really gets you like being bitten--he chopped off her head. One day he was making love to her, and another legally ordering her beheading. It hits you as you pour over this text. She writes on why Henry might have done it in great detail...so I won't spoil it here on what she suggests!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds SUMMERVILLE, SC, United States 04-22-14
    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds SUMMERVILLE, SC, United States 04-22-14 Member Since 2010

    author of Lowcountry Legend's series

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    "New perspective on an old myth"

    I enjoyed this book and this narration of it immensely. The narrator I am familiar with and she does strong American women well. However, it is the book that really shines for me. First, there is the typical history of Anne, WITHOUT the, AS IT WERE's of historians and WITH opinions. Then there is pop culture history related to Anne, which is also a study on how history changes with the generations and perceptions. This is a must for any graduate student in history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PG NYC 11-13-14
    PG NYC 11-13-14 Member Since 2014

    Cabin Fever

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    "Absolutely Wonderful"
    Would you listen to The Creation of Anne Boleyn again? Why?

    Yes. The narration is fabulous, and the writing is wonderful


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Anne & Susan - Learning how the author was feeling toward the character was as much fun as the factual history.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Anne in the Tower


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Discussion of 21st Century young women who have found a hero in Anne.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Danvers, MA, United States 07-22-14
    Michelle Danvers, MA, United States 07-22-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Very engrossing"
    Where does The Creation of Anne Boleyn rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is a very well written and researched novel. It presents a more balanced perspective of Anne Boleyn as well as how her legacy has been shaped by the culture not only of her time but of those that came after.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fiona Milton, PA, United States 06-15-14
    Fiona Milton, PA, United States 06-15-14 Member Since 2012

    Radio producer; storyteller; folk historian; and audio book addict...Audio books are the only way that I can fit in all the reading I need and want to do. ...Oh, and I am also British. (Anglo-Welsh).

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    "Overall average ."

    I had high hopes for this book. Having been interested in Tudor history for many years, and having done my own research on Boleyn. I was looking forward to a book that really got behind all of the written evidence. The book showed promise. Although, after reaching the end, I returned to the first two chapters to re-listen in an attempt to discover why I felt slight disappointment, and mild irritation.
    Bordo admitted that she had only been fascinated by Boleyn since 2001, which makes her a lightweight.
    I had to also consider that she is very American in her assumption that "most people" don't have a grasp on the Tudors. (People of my generation studied the Tudors for an entire year at school in Britain.) These two things should have been my clues.
    I mostly enjoyed the first part of the book. Although I struggled to find anything new within. I became a bit annoyed during the second part, when Bordo surprisingly forgave "The Tudors" Showtime series, admitting all of their sins of historical misguidance; partially because she'd become starstruck by Natalie Dormer, who played Boleyn; but then absolutely raked Phillipa Gregory over the coals, and held Alison Weir's feet to the flames for far lesser sins. I partially agree with her disdain for Gregory; I wasn't over keen on Gregory's take on Boleyn; except, that ironically, the comment that Bordo made, that every historical fiction writer, writes from their own time and perspective (true) was the same comment that Gregory herself made to me. Apparently, Margaret George had made that comment to Bordo, whilst doing some Gregory coal raking of her own. The irony is, that I am still raging after over a decade; over two horrible, easily researched mistakes that George made in one of her books. Mistakes of personality, happen. Major mistakes on geography verge on the unforgivable. If you don't understand a place, don't write about it.
    I don't understand the modern jealousy that historical fiction writers have for each other. It's petty and dull. I was disappointed to find Bordo joining in.
    This book has its moments of goodness, but never achieves greatness, and does have some low points. If you know nothing about Boleyn, you might discover some things. If you know a great deal about Boleyn, you might pick up one or two perspectives, but not enough to warrant the whole read.
    However the performance was top notch! Barbara Rosenblat was never irritating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hatchue 06-10-14
    Hatchue 06-10-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Not so much a biography..."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    More historical information and even speculation about Anne herself, less talking about the shortcomings of other people's books. This came off as more of a lengthy college essay than a book.


    What was most disappointing about Susan Bordo’s story?

    I was expecting more of a biography about the life of Anne Boleyn, but only about a quarter of the text was actually about Anne. Most of it ended up being a critique of other author's works on the same topics (both factual history and novels) and how they portrayed Anne. She also reviewed websites and mentioned Facebook pages. She went on to talk about Anne's influence on feminism. Quite a bit of the book was about feminist views and how people might have viewed Anne in modern times, speculated on how she might have been a leader in the feminist movement, etc.


    Have you listened to any of Barbara Rosenblat’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is the first time I've listened to anything narrated by Barbara Rosenblat, but she did a stellar job. She had a lot of enthusiasm and her narration style is actually what kept me listening.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Absolutely not.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Book of Secrets USA 05-02-14
    Book of Secrets USA 05-02-14
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    "Fantastic narration by Barbara Rosenblat"
    Any additional comments?

    Source: A copy of this audiobook was provided by Audible.com in exchange for an honest review.

    After Anne Boleyn was executed in 1556, King Henry VIII tried to erase her from history by destroying her portraits, letters, and any other traces of her existance. Because of this, the real Anne Boleyn remains a mystery. Was she a wicked harlot or a Protestant martyr? A conniving husband-stealing shrew or feminist champion? In THE CREATION OF ANNE BOLEYN, author Susan Bordo sets out to “save” Anne the human being from the various myths created over the centuries.

    The first half of the book was my favorite. It’s an in depth look at Anne’s relationship with Henry, and how certain people from her own time viewed her and her marriage with the king. It was interesting to hear the author’s opinions of Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour, and how they differed from Anne. Ms. Bordo also looks at the theories about Henry’s health that may have caused his fickle nature when it came to disposing of his wives.

    I didn’t care for the second half of the book quite as much. It explored how different versions of Anne Boleyn have been created over the last 500 years to fit the standards of the time. The chapters dragged at times, and ideas were repeated. I did like that the author showed how Anne is portrayed in film and literature today, including her thoughts on The Tudors television show. One negative for me was her obvious dislike of Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl (both the book and movie). It’s fine if she doesn’t like Gregory’s portrayal of Anne, but hearing about it over and over got tiresome after a while. (I have not read or seen The Other Boleyn Girl, but now I want to!)

    This book was narrated by Barbara Rosenblat, and she gave a brilliant performance. She added just the right amount of enthusiasm, humor, and sarcasm in her voice at the appropriate passages. I would give the narration alone 5 stars!

    THE CREATION OF ANNE BOLEYN was expertly researched, and I enjoyed how it was so much more than a typical biography. The information presented was certainly thought-provoking, and I walked away from this book with a new view of England’s most notorious queen.

    Rating: 3.5 Stars

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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