The Lady in the Tower (Queens of England, #4)

ISBN: 1400047854
ISBN 13: 9781400047857
By: Jean Plaidy

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About this book

One of history’s most complex and alluring women comes to life in this classic novel by the legendary Jean Plaidy.Young Anne Boleyn was not beautiful but she was irresistible, capturing the hearts of kings and commoners alike. Daughter of an ambitious country lord, Anne was sent to France to learn sophistication, and then to court to marry well and raise the family's fortunes. She soon surpassed even their greatest expectations. Although his queen was loving and loyal, King Henry VIII swore he would put her aside and make Anne his wife. And so he did, though the divorce would tear apart the English church and inflict religious turmoil and bloodshed on his people for generations to come.Loathed by the English people, who called her the King's Great Whore; Anne Boleyn was soon caught in the trap of her own ambition. Political rivals surrounded her at court and, when she failed to produce a much-desired male heir, they closed in, preying on the king's well-known insecurity and volatile temper. Wrongfully accused of adultery and incest, Anne found herself imprisoned in the Tower of London, where she was at the mercy of her husband and of her enemies.

Reader's Thoughts


what an exciting read! after having visited the Tower of London 6 weeks ago , this seemed like the prefect story to continue my education into the history of English nobility in the 16th century. It kept me turnings pages with accounts of espionage, romance, adultery, and near poetic prose. I was truly enchanted. worth every minute and it wont take many!


This is the book that started my obsession with Jean Plaidy–the first of her novels I read and my absolute favorite characterization of Anne Boleyn. Eight years have passed, and reading it again I stand by my initial delight in finding an admirable protagonist in Anne–after having been introduced to her by Philippa Gregory, with her not-so-flattering portrayal of Anne as a great intriguer with temperamental dominance.In The Lady in the Tower, Anne is imprisoned in the Tower of London, recounting her life in its entirety in an effort to distract herself from her present state. She details her early life at Hever, the years spent in the court of France, and her relations with James Butler, Henry Percy and Thomas Wyatt. All of this makes up the first half of the story and leads up to the Henry VIII’s entrance into Anne’s life.Losing her mother at a young age, Anne was precocious and wise beyond her years–well-prepared to join the King’s sister, who had become the Queen of France. Born into an ambitious family, court life suited her–though she loathed the position her sister had taken as François’ mistress (and later Henry VIII’s). She was aware of the gossip and ribaldry focused on Mary’s promiscuity and she was shamed and horrified at the indignity of it, and very determined not to follow in her footsteps. This, and a natural inclination to chastity, set her resolve that would one day hold off the King of England for seven years before their marriage.She gained a love of learning and was greatly influenced by the French King’s sister, Marguerite d’Angoulême. During Anne’s stay in the France, Martin Luther published his Ninety-Five Theses and the budding Protestant Reformation interested the young philosophically minded courtiers, Anne included. This influence would shape Anne’s future, as it set the foundation to the upcoming changes in Henry VIII’s religious policies, instituting the break from Rome and beginning the Church of England.Before joining the English court, her father, who was rising high in the King’s favor (thanks to his elder daughter), came home to ready for a visit from King Henry. Anne, pondering her dismal future as the wife of James Bulter, an Irish peer, is not impressed by the King and decides to play a trick on him when he happens upon her in the garden unannounced. She pretends to believe he is a gentleman of the court and proceeds to ridicule the court, comparing it to that of France. Thus both angered and fascinated, the King makes himself known and Anne deftly extricates herself by feigning her purpose to have been amusement, and not pretension.Plaidy stages Anne to meet James Bulter at court, where he is much taken with her, but she is indifferent to him–mostly because she has no desire to live in Ireland. When it is announced that there is to be no betrothal, she is relieved and believes there must have been a change in policy which negated the alliance. Her chance meeting with Henry Percy, the heir to the Earl of Northumberland, was different in that she was drawn to him and both were enamored of the other. Their forced split and her subsequent dismissal from court was a low point in Anne’s young life and caused the coldness she felt toward men, especially the powerful Cardinal Wosley and the King (once she learned he was the cause).As the first half of the book ends, Thomas Wyatt, a neighbor of Hever and childhood playmate of George and the Boleyn sisters, makes his feelings known to Anne. Though already married, he wished Anne to dally, but is much mistaken in his presumption that she will fall for his handsomeness, wit and flowery writing. Anne Boleyn will be no man’s mistress–and thus the chase begins for King Henry VIII…Anne finally gave in to the fact that Henry would not stop pursuing her, and if she could not have the life she wanted with Henry Percy, heir to the Earl of Northumberland, she could at least be the highest lady in the land. Though she did not love the King, she couldn’t help feeling elated by his attentions, and the continuing attentions of the bright young men at court. Here the book goes into detail about “The King’s Secret Matter” and the steps he was taking to divorce Katharine. There were many political obstacles between Henry and his heart’s desire, such as the ever changing alliances with either France or Spain, as suited the needs of policy.Wosley’s downfall precipitated Anne’s in that, for the first time, she lost a little of Henry’s regard when she gloated over the man’s demise. Though still infatuated with Anne, Cranmer and Cromwell were turning him onto the idea that the break with Rome was about power and wealth as much as his matrimonial affairs. His ever obliging conscience saw the need for reform only because it bolstered his own cause (and lined his pockets).Anne let her guard down after Katharine was sent away and she was named Marquess of Pembroke. Politically, this was Henry’s way of making Anne “fit” to be presented at the upcoming meeting with the French king, as she wasn’t the queen. It served little, however, when the Queen of France (who was from Spain) refused to accompany the court–and thus only the men of the two countries were allowed their entertainments and political strategics. Anne, however, came away from this event with something in her favor–she was pregnant.Henry finally thumbed his nose at the Pope and had his ministers declare his marriage to Katharine invalid. He and Anne had a small, quiet ceremony in January of 1533 and began planning for her coronation in May. This was a time of triumph for Anne, though it was to be short-lived. Before their daughter, the future Elizabeth I, was born, Henry’s eye was already roaming. There was an unnamed lady of the court who had caught the attention of the King, and Anne’s gossip hungry sister-in-law kept her informed of the affair. Anne, not known for keeping her temper, railed at the king and was quickly put in her place with the words, “You will close your eyes as your betters did before you.” This was the point where Anne found she had gambled much for Henry’s “love” and found it was not altogether as exciting as she’d once thought. She began to know the tyrant, and loathed him, but she was not ready to give up the fight for her place. She would swallow her pride and focus on bringing herself security in the form of a male heir.It was not to be–she suffered several miscarriages and the old pattern Henry had experienced with Katharine began to emerge. With each, Anne lost a little more of Henry’s regard, and because he was tired of her he began to look for a way out of the marriage. Anne finally realized her efforts were futile, but still she played the meek wife in hopes of bonding their marriage and conceiving another child.Meanwhile Henry met with Cromwell to devise a way to be rid of Anne. It is thought at first that he would divorce her as he did Katharine, but when Mark Smeaton and the men of the court were arrested, Anne saw that he desired a more permanent solution: treason and death. Until the end Anne was cool and level-headed, sending a letter that must have taunted him for the rest of his life:“Commend me to His Majesty and tell him that he hath been ever constant in his career of advancing me; from private gentlewoman he made me a marquess; from marquess to a queen; and now he hath no higher honor of degree, he gives my innocency the crown of martyrdom.”This characterization of Anne Boleyn is the most detailed and historically accurate fictional account this reader has encountered. It is the book I always recommend on the subject and one of my favorite novels of all time. Henry VIII’s complex personality is displayed magnificently, explaining his struggle of desire versus conscience. Anne is portrayed not as the calculated schemer and/or black-eyed witch of some embroidered fiction, but as a woman who was thrust into a tyrant’s world and made the best choices she could with what was presented and her own personality allowed.


Anne Boleyn describes her life from the confines of her apartments in the Tower awaiting her execution. I enjoyed the first-person narrative and dialogue. A much different take on Anne than I have read before and found it fascinating and intriguing.Jean Plaidy is quickly becoming a favorite author with her amazing insights (albeit fictional) into the Tudor complexities and personalities. This account shows Anne as a young child and adolescent placed in the French court and sheds light on her young experiences that would establish the unstable foundation on which she then lives our her very short life.Highly recommend and will be reading more of this series.


Every time I read it watch an account of Anne Boleyn, I catch myself rooting for her even though I know how the story ends. This book was wonderful, chock full of historical details, and Plaidy does a beautiful job of bringing the well-known names of the story to full-color life. I am definitely going to be reading more of her work! I just love historical fiction and I can't believe that I hadn't heard of Plaidy before, since some research shows that she is one of the best-known writers about England's monarchy. I only discovered her for myself because our library has an entire section devoted to her works and I was intrigued. I highly recommend her! Just a warning, though: this book starts a bit slowly, but if you can make your way through the first few chapters, you'll be well-rewarded.


Ann Boleyn came alive for me like never before in this book. Her mannerisms, relationships, hopes, moods, losses all took on meaning for me. Plaidy tells these tales as well as, or better than anyone. That one can sympathize, become annoyed with, and ultimately find themselves relating to the life and times of any British queen from 500 years ago is startling to me..Plaidy has the gift of bringing the reader to the protagonist's table, so to speak, and at that point the reader partakes even when the story is grim, the characters small or detestable. I guess Plaidy is legendary for a reason...hers are classic tales told with truly great skill.


I love Jean Plaidy and as expected this novel did not disappoint.Plaidy has a skill of bringing historical characters to life, recreating legendary figures. Her characters have faults, they have displeasing personalities, they are far from perfect. And I think that is what makes her novels so interesting because these royals are merely human.In this novel, Anne Boleyn is strong willed and temperamental but she's also smart and captivating. Boleyn is shown to be a witch are cruel by many historians but here she's a heart broken woman, eager for power after her love was taken away.The writing is beautiful, as always, and pretty much historical accurate (and was the time of publication - I'm sure.A good read for those who love history.


I was glad to get a new to me perspective on Anne Boleyn. Everything I had read recently, even the book I, Elizabeth was kind of negative about Anne. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I consider her to be a really sympathetic character and I’ve always felt like everything that happened to her was a real shame. It amazes me when I realize how little so many people know about this woman who vastly changed the course of history. Her impact on what happened in England is ginormous – could any of us imagine an England without Elizabeth I in its history? How different would things have been if this one woman had simply had a male child survive?To read the rest of my review, please visit:


Not my favorite characterization of Anne and it uses sources that have been discredited, but still a coherent story told well.

Mary Campbell

I bought this book via Audible, having just finished listening to A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES in preparation for AN ECHO IN THE BONE. This is my fifth Anne Boleyn book -- the only one told in the first person, the only one beginning in her early childhood, and the second in which it is related that (1) her mother dies young, and (2) she has the nail of a sixth finger and a mole that her "B" pendant hides. At this point in the book, Anne is lady to Queen Mary (Tudor) of France, Henry VIII's sister and Louis XII's wife. Mary will become, incidentally, Lady Jane Grey's grandmother.


This was a very hard book to read. It was very dry, and very different to my other venture into the world of the Boleyns, being The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory.PG's writing was much more interesting and the characters were all more likable. Jean Plaidy's interpretation was a lot more factual, and the characters didn't have much personality. I wanted to know more about the characters. It has put me off Jean Plaidy. I don't know that I could read more of her books


Fascinating and intuitive first person narrative of the life of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII of England. I thoroughly enjoyed the author's take on Anne, especially the decision to write the novel as if Anne had written it while imprisoned in the tower before her execution. It is laid out in a chronological, conversational, and confessional manner; as a way of looking back over the span of her life, to determine where she made her fatal mistakes, and how she may have anticipated them, or avoided them. Anne is pretty, bright, mysterious, witty, vivacious, well-mannered, observant, provocative, and hot-tempered. She remains to me one of the most enigmatic women in history.


I used to love reading Victoria Holt's gothic novels. Although I wasn't as fond of the historical novels written under her pen-name Jean Plaidy, I didn't remember them as being boring or poorly written in any way. So when I saw this title available for audio download, I quickly checked it out. Unfortunately, I found it both boring and poorly written. It didn't seem like historical fiction really--more like a history lesson that someone attempted to breathe life into. The story is supposed to be Anne Boleyn's remembrances as she awaits execution (spoiler alert?), so naturally the story begins in narrative form. But when the story stayed in that narrative form, it quickly became dull. Basically, the novel consists of long passages of narration, interspersed with stilted, static, unlikely conversations. Not only that, but the author felt the need to repeat information over and over. And each time, she repeated the info as if it should be new to the reader--as if, for instance, she hadn't told us thirty times already that Anne liked to wear her sleeves long to cover the sixth nail on her hand. All in all, the book was a slog to get through. I wish a publisher would focus on bringing the Victoria Holt romances to audio, rather than the Jean Plaidy historicals.

Keith Nield

As normal a good Plaidy book to read, always get a good picture of the main characters, or at least Plaidy's view. It was a bit repetitive in places and kept getting the feeling that I had read it before. Interprets the periods so well making it a somewhat frightening period to live at what ever level you are. Looking forward to my next read, although I do tend to use Ms Plaidy as a resource I can use as a good read, when I cannot make my mind up about what other author to read next, she is my Ms Reliable.


I was disappointed that this novel wasn't more engaging. I didn't know much about Anne Boleyn (except what I knew from The Tudors) before I read this.It started off pretty well, but by the time Anne has decided that she will accept Henry VII's advances, the story just dragged on. I understand that the author was trying to stay true to reality (-ish) but I think some events could have been fast-forwarded over.And it was very confusing trying to remember who was whom and how they were related. At one point, Anne mentions that "Mary" comes to visit. It took me a while to figure out she ultimately meant her sister. Not Henry's sister, not Katherine's daughter, and not one of the umpteenth people named "Mary". The author could have clarified such little annoyances.I never got a good sense of why Anne did what she wanted. Even though the novel is written in first person, the narration is very much cobbled together descriptions of what other characters think, or seem to think, about Anne.I may try a few of the other novels by Ms. Plaidy (or her numerous pseudonyms) but that's not high on my list.


I enjoyed this book as I have always been interested in Anne Boleyn. I've always wondered what she was really like. Did she scheme and plot to get the eye of the King, and to get rid of the Queen, or did she just get caught up in events? Jean Plaidy's portrayal of Anne was somewhere in the middle. She didn't seek the attention of the King, but once she had it, she certainly became ambitious. It will be interesting to read "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory and compare. The only complaint I had with this novel was that parts of it were quite dry and took forever to get moving.

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