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


** spoiler alert ** I loved that Anne stressed that she loved her daughter dearly, often she is portrayed as hating the child who was not a boy. The care that she showed the child was very endearing. I’m not sure if it was believable that she wished to feed Elizabeth herself.“Then it occurred to me, it’s not easy to tread safely when dealing with Royalty.” If only Anne had remembered the lessons she learned while serving Mary in the French court when dealing with Henry. Plaidy wrote a much more innocent view of the Antics of the French Court the Robin Maxwell did in her book Mademoiselle Boleyn, although she too refers to Mary Boleyn as the English Mare, ready to be ridden by any man who wanted her. I like how she choose to have Henry suggest that Anne become his queen instead of his mistress. It makes Anne seem much less calculating then she is so often portrayed to be. I also like how Anne believes that it will never happen. Plaidy writes so many warning signs to the dangers to Anne ahead. It makes me wonder if there were signs there and she ignored them.


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.


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.


One of the best examples of historical fiction. All the drama and tragedy that is Anne Boleyn told in the first-person. Unique and wonderful.


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.


I really enjoyed this book. It was the first I read by Jean Plaidy, and it will definitely not be the last. I recently re-discovered my Tudors obsession, and so I decided to pick a book about my personal favourite Henry VIII's wife, Anne Boleyn. Plaidy wrote a lot of Tudors books, and I really hope the others are as successful as this one.Plaidy starts the story when Anne is in the Tower, awaiting her death, and then goes back to the very beginning of her life, when as a child she goes to the court of France with the new Queen, Mary. At first I could not wait for Anne to return to England, but very soon I was immensely happy that Plaidy decided to focus so much on her time in France, also because this period of her life is often neglected in historical novels. I really enjoyed reading about her relationships with Mary Tudor (sister of Henry and Queen of France for a while) and Marguerite (Francis I's sister). I think the characterization of both women was beautifully done, and as the story progressed it was easy to see how Anne was influenced by them. I also liked that much focus was given to Francis I himself and his troubled relationship with Henry VIII.Anne's story in England was equally fascinating. The characters she meets are well portrayed, even if maybe a little more one-dimensional than the ones she interacted with in France. I liked the characterization of Henry VIII, and how Plaidy insisted on his ambiguous character - both naively childish and frighteningly cruel -, but I would have liked to read more about Katharine, Cromwell and Norfolk. As for Anne herself, I was completely happy with how Plaidy presented her. She acts much like the Anne Boleyn I imagine (though, of course, no one can truly know how she was like). She is not a complete bitch, nor she is unbelievably naive, but she has wits and is very aware of her charms, and not afraid of using them. She is vain and ambitious, she wants to be adored and to be at the center of the attention. However, she also has a terrible temper, and even if she is clever she is sometimes too impulsive and too foolish. The only thing I did not found entirely convincing was her obsession with her virtue. In the book, she is determined not to give herself to Henry because she does not want to be shamed like her sister Mary. This is realistic, I guess, but sometimes it seemed a little out of character. However, this worked for the story, so I did not mind very much. The pace is always quite engaging, and I found myself rarely bored, even if some parts were a little repetitive. The writing is simple, easy to read, even if a little fluffy sometimes. So yes, it is not a masterpiece, surely, but it is the best book I've read about Anne Boleyn so far. I think it is definitely worth the read if you like the historical period (I know I do!). Now I look forward to reading other Jean Plaidy books!


** spoiler alert ** Very different take on Anne Boleyn. Shows her in a way I hadn't considered before. Also shows Henry to be very creepy. Half of this tale shows Anne to be of strong moral fiber. She disgusted by her sister's behavior in France. Then is repulsed by her father basically pimping out her sister to the King of England - all for the name of family ambition. Half of this story is spent with Anne adamantly stating that this will not happen to her. King Henry tires of the sister and turns his gaze on Anne. He then goes total creeper/stalker mode. She refuses him. But then he offers her the crown - and *poof* the moral fiber has vanished. And she turns in to the power hungry, ambitious girl I'm most familiar with. The rest of the book gets repeatitive and a little boring. Finally, it ends where it began, back in the tower with Anne who should've stuck to her guns and done anything but hook up with the creepy king.

Rachel Swords

If you ever wanted a novelization of "Anne of the Thousand Days" (and yes I know it was a play first), this is as close as you're going to get. Jean Plaidy's take on Anne Boleyn sounds quite similar to Genevieve Bujold's legendary interpretation, despite the addition of Anne having a mole and a sixth fingernail(which historians have doubted the real Anne actually having; more than likely it was propaganda spread against her by the Spanish ambassador). Here Anne holds out against Henry, doubts any real feelings she might have for him, adores her see where I'm going with this. The book is a little long-winded, but ultimately a satisfying read for Anne Boleyn fans. Read this before you even think of going near "The Other Boleyn Girl."

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.


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

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.


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.


So often Anne Boleyn is painted the villian. This novel is fiction but I love the perspective the story is being told from. Anne is opinionated, educated, erudite and mysterious. I never believed she was an opportunist like her father, the Earl of Rochford. It is highly probably the rest of the Boleyn children were strongly encouraged to increase their status from parental pressure. In this depiction, Henry is the pursuer, and Anne holds him off, not only because she dislikes and blames him for dismantling her relationship with Henry Percy, but also because she was horrified by the actions of her sister Mary, who was a mistress to the king of France years ago, and was known as "the Great Whore". In this instance, we are led to believe Anne's virtue is more important to her than being a king's concubine, a truly progressive notion for that day and age. With Anne's cultured personality and exposure to strong female figures early in her youth (Henry VIII's sister Mary, who was Queen of France, and Mauguerite d'Alencon, sister of Francis I of France) it is believeable she could demonstrate the type of confidence and mystique that rendors men powerless. Unfortunately, Anne didn't wear it well within the English Court, without being born royal; she was regarded as haughty. After being raised to the Marquess of Pembroke, and then finally Queen, Anne failed to produce the male heir that Henry so desperately wanted. The king's wandering eye fell upon Jane Seymour and he sought to invalidate his marriage to Anne. Divorce proved to take too long, and was still too controversial with the decision laying with the Pope. Finding Anne Boleyn guilty of adultery was the quickest way to dispose of her. Very tragic tale; I happen to believe that Boleyn was guilty only of circumstance. How was she ever to refuse the kings advances without fear for her life? She was doomed from the start. Someone needs to be in her corner after all this time; and this is a very plausible scenario.


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!


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.

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