Many books have been written on the Tudors, not least on Henry VIII's notorious second queen, Anne Boleyn. Weir revisits her subject with a closer focus, writing primarily on the last four months of Anne's life in 1536. I'm a huge fan of Anne--I've even toyed with getting a tattoo of her signature. But despite it's sometimes claustrophobic focus, this book does not expand my understanding of her, or tell me much that I didn't already know. That Anne had few friends and many enemies, that she had miscarried several times, that she had openly declared herself the foe of Cromwell, that the diplomatic envoys she had encouraged had just failed, and that Henry had fallen in love with another woman--other books have covered all of this already. Weir doesn't even manage to provide more information on the trial. She repeats herself often (in one paragraph, she says, "The author of the 'Spanish Chronicle,' never reliable and incline to embroider or make up details, claims that Rochford had been espied leaving her bedchamber in his night robe on several occasions." Only a few sentences later, on the very same page, she writes, "The 'Spanish Chronicle' states that George Boleyn [called Rochford for his title:] 'had been seen on several occasions going in and out of the Queen's room dressed only in his night clothes,' but it is not a reliable source." Very frustrating!) She spends chapter after chapter on conjecture and "possibly this means..." but so much of the record of this period was expunged or accidentally destroyed that little can truly be claimed. And most frustratingly, she quotes Anne very rarely. Oh, she quotes what other people said of her, the rumors, the poems, the songs. She devotes a full chapter to various claims of what Anne wore to the scaffold. She gives the versions of Anne's last words (most of which vaguely agree with each other in content, none of which match exactly). But she doesn't cite a single letter that we know Anne wrote. She sprinkles rumors of what men said Anne said throughout the book, but as to Anne herself? Nothing in her own words.
In the end, I was left frustrated and bored. I suppose this is a good book for a completist, or somehow who is interested in the Tudors but doesn't know much. But anyone who has already read even ONE of the biographies of Anne Boleyn will be left wanting. The one aspect of this book that I did enjoy was Weir's tangents on the law. There are all sorts of oddments and loopholes riddling English law. For instance, when Anne died her marriage to Henry had been annulled, but her status as Queen was assured in a Law of Succession...so technically she was Queen without ever having married the ruling king!