Review of My Lady of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes

My Lady of Cleves

My Lady of Cleves

I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite some time. I first saw this on a shelf at a nearby thrift store. However, I had to leave in a hurry and did not get a chance to buy it. Next time I went there, it was gone. (This was were I wanted to deliver a swift kick to the hombre’s behind). Anyway! luckily, the library had a copy available months after the thrift store incident. Tudor fix satiated!

My Lady of Cleves reveals the mesmerizing story of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII”s fourth wife, one of the rare women who matched wits successfully with the fiery king and lived to tell the tale. Written by world-renowned historical novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes, My Lady of Cleves gives readers an intimate portrait of the warm, unpretentious princess who never expected to become Queen of England. Knowing the king”s ravenous desire for a son, and aware of the disastrous consequences of not bearing an heir, Anne of Cleves bravely took on the duty of weathering the Tudor King’s temper, whims, arrogance, and irresponsible passions – and won the hearts of his subjects in the process. A treat for readers of Tudor fiction and those fascinated by the complex relationships of Henry VIII and his wives, My Lady of Cleves leads readers into a world of high drama and courtly elegance. (From Chapters Indigo)

I really liked how Anne of Cleves was portrayed in this book! and it proved to be a very enjoyable read. I had to get used to the writing style though, and it took a little longer to get into the book. It proved to be a very interesting read, and I really did like this book.

It’s hard not to sympathize with Anne. Practically alone in a country where English is a foreign language, and with different customs and clothing to get used to, I felt really sorry for her in the beginning of the book. When she becomes the target of ridicule, you sympathize with her even more and can’t help but feel angry towards Henry and his crew for being so mean. The biggest surprise in this book is her friendship with Thomas Culpepper. I didn’t think they’d get along, but I liked their friendship. Also, the Thomas in this book is much nicer than say, The Tudors version. This book painted Culpepper in a rather sympathetic light and it’s a whole different version of him than what I am used to, and I like this one much better.

What I enjoyed most about this book is how Anne gracefully became an outsider of the court, to a well beloved one. She gradually warmed characters’ hearts and the reader’s. She was seen as a person you could approach to, and talk to while she listened and gave good advice. In a way, you could say she would make a wonderful therapist. You could not help but love her up until the end. I especially liked how she managed to get Henry to come crawling back (so to speak). I thought Henry’s portrayal here was different, he’s still a tyrant, but he’s also seen as an old curmudgeon. Perhaps that’s what Margaret Campbell Barnes wanted in the first place.

The plot is certainly slow moving and although it’s not what you would call a very exciting type of book, I think it’s a book meant to be read and appreciated thoroughly and slowly. I believe this book was really meant to really look into Anne as a character and how she develops throughout the story. This book is really all about the characters. Would I recommend this? I would to Tudor history lovers out there. It helps to know the history and to know who’s who before getting into this book. Also keep in mind, the writing style is a bit different -I’d say similar to Jean Plaidy’s. So, it will take a bit to get used to, but it’s well worth the time.

This was one of the better Tudor books I’ve read, filled with great character development and most importantly, shows some of the characters in a very different light. I definitely recommend this. It was a great read, and reinforces my opinion as Anne of Cleves being one of my favorite Queens (even if she was Queen for a little while).

I give it a 9 out of 10.

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